”People move on for better opportunities; they seem to graduate from my business to another.” This West Kootenay employer echoes the frustration of many local employers who are dealing with employee turnover. This interview was a component of the Nelson Area Human Resource Strategy (Local Employers Working Together), a 1997-98 labour market partnership conducted by Kootenay Career Development Society that addressed the issues of skills shortage in the Nelson area. Through the interview process, employers shared what worked to reduce employee turnover. Some of the successes that were documented in the Human Resource Strategy included offering flexibility, interesting work, competitive wages and benefits, term completion bonuses, and ”a safe, respectful, supportive and fun environment.” Below are some practical tips to reducing your employee turnover: Flexibility: Flexible work can either be in a compressed work week that allows an employee to work the same amount of hours but in fewer days or a daily flexible schedule where staff can arrive and leave at different times than the employer’s regular business hours. Often employees, particularly in the Kootenays, want to experience the lifestyle; having flexible work is a definite perk. For employers creating a flexible work environment invokes the issue of trust. Trust: C. Ken Weidner, an assistant professor at the Center for Organization Development at Loyola University Chicago, found that a manager’s ability to develop relationships have a positive impact on employee turnover. Here are some tips to develop trust in an organization or business:

  • Communication. Keep employees informed about what is actually going on; provide as much information as soon as possible. Be honest. Communication also includes sharing your vision of your business or organization.
  • Keep your commitments. If you cannot, inform people as soon as possible.
  • Think of everyone in the organization as part of a team. Protect all of their interests.
  • Listen with respect.
  • Set high expectations for yourself and others; treat everyone as if they can meet those expectations.
  • Focus on shared goals. When everyone is aligned with the same vision, an environment of trust is developed.

Interesting work: Most employees enjoy being engaged in their work and people are more engaged when they are using their strengths. Are there ways that you can offer employees opportunities to work on their strengths? Interesting work also happens when people are encouraged to build on their skills. Are there training possibilities for your staff? Good fit: Ensuring that you have hired the right employee is integral to reducing employee turnover. One employee in the Human Resource Strategy commented on their approach: ”We have developed concise job descriptions and know what we are looking for. We conduct behavioural panel interviews and are very concerned with the ‘fit’ of the new person into the team.” Good wage: Part of the value in the workplace is valuing what employees contribute. Performance Based Incentives: Are there projects or initiatives where your employees can be rewarded for their outstanding performance? Other Benefits: Other benefits may include paid time off for holidays or sick time, telecommuting, preventative healthcare or wellness programs, recognition (for example, event tickets), tuition reimbursement, training incentives, mentoring, retirement savings matching. BC Jobs, a website connecting job seekers and employers talks about employee turnover in an article called Employee Turnover: How much is it costing you? Though some of the benefits you offer to employees may include a cost, understanding that there can be a much greater cost to employee turnover will help with the decision making. The American Management Association estimates that the cost of replacing an employee is 30% of their wages. Cost savings is just one benefit. A vibrant and healthy workplace is also more productive, and that is the basis for increased revenues. The Nelson Area Human Resource Strategy is a community-based study; to see more of the results and recommendations, you can find it here.