How to tackle staff churn

Matthew Hickford, Marketing Manager at Westray Recruitment Group, offers some easy and affordable tactics to increase staff retention.

Staff churn. I could almost hear the collective sigh you all let slip when you read those two words. Nobody really wants to think about why people don’t want to work for their business anymore do they?

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

The thing is, there must be some people in the business you’d hate to lose, and in order to keep them, you need to learn from the people you’ve already lost.

I think it was Jesus who said “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses”. Jesus was mostly wrong. Here’s why. Even though I’m a marketer and not a boss, it’d be too convenient/easy for me to say ‘blame the boss’. They can’t be blamed for everything but they’re certainly responsible for fixing what needs fixing, even IF they aren’t to blame (because sometimes they are).

If you don’t already, start effectively tracking why people leave because you need to know if there are themes that need to be fixed. An excel spreadsheet will do if you don’t have bespoke HR software. Consider the leaver’s age, role, line manager and of course, stated reason for leaving. BUT, be prepared to take that last one with more than a pinch of salt because most people, even leavers, don’t want to be rude or offensive, even if it’s the truth. So, they might not tell you if their line manager is like the hound of hades come clocking off time and won’t let people leave on time, that they can’t stand the MD or that the stone age technology is hampering their ability to perform. They might say that they’re leaving to ‘pursue an opportunity more commensurate with their career development’ or ‘an opportunity closer to home’, and occasionally they might be telling the truth, but more often than not, they’re just not telling you quite what you’ve done wrong.

From there, you need to give your staff reasons to stay really. Offer everything that you reasonably can without it being detrimental to the business. A lot don’t actually cost you anything and a fair few can actually save you money or increase productivity so what’s not to love? I’ve set out a few of the easier ones below:

1. Promote sideways steps when relevant. Recognising that a staff member in one role could contribute more in another is a great way to keep staff and boost productivity. We’re great at that here at Westray, I myself benefited from a sideways move from recruitment into marketing and have absolutely loved every day since. It’s a great way to make staff happy and definitely encourages staff loyalty!

2. Introduce flexible working. 70% of millennials and gen z’ers expect some form of flexible working to be on offer and 90% of UK professionals would, given the choice of 2 similar jobs, choose the 1 with more flexible working options. So, what’s in it for you? There’s a hyperlink above taking you to an article we’ve written previously including lots of stats but essentially… 83% of 8,000 businesses surveyed said categorically that flexible working had directly led to higher levels of productivity and 61% of those said it had boosted company profits.

3. Have a great career progression strategy. Even if positions aren’t available, staff will be happy to have their ambitions noted and encouraged. Where possible, assign staff a mentor who’s in the role they’re pursuing and let them deputise when their mentor is on annual leave or out of office.

Crucially, all of these things are free, easy to set-up & encourage and are proven to improve staff morale, boost productivity and promote loyalty. Moving jobs is a stressful process, your staff will only choose to do it if they can’t find enough of a reason to stay, it’s your job to offer those reasons.

Westray Recruitment Consultants are proudly family-owned and run and have served the recruitment needs of businesses and inhabitants of the North-East for almost 30 years. We are delighted to be headline sponsors of People Power 2020 and are passionate advocates of the key themes of the event.