Why is your staff turnover so high — and what can you do about it?

Sometimes, good employees leave. It’s a normal part of running a business, and usually, it’s for the best. People you respect leave on good terms and head for greener pastures, while you replace them with new and enthusiastic staff members.

But when staff are leaving en masse, employers need to look inwards to realise there may be an internal problem. High staff turnover is often a symptom of deeper issues within your company, whether it’s outdated management practices or a toxic work culture.

Gemma Harding, Head of Client Services at call outsourcing solutions provider CALLCARE, says that addressing high staff turnover should be a top priority for any employer. “If staff are leaving left, right and centre, it won’t be long before your business faces critical issues to do with cash flow and resource.

“It’s imperative that business leaders get to the heart of the problem as soon as possible to minimise the damage and build a better, happier work environment for their future team.”

How much does high staff turnover cost UK businesses?

Cost of staff turnover on businesses

HR experts Croner calculated that, based on the average UK salary, the cost of employee turnover is about £11,000 per person. Other research from AXA PPP suggests this figure could be even higher, costing businesses as much as £30,000.

But why is losing a member of staff so expensive?

  • Loss of productivity — It’s unlikely that you’ll fill a role immediately, so there’s usually a period when a lot of tasks just can’t get done because there’s not enough available resource. Even if you have staff on long notice periods, they’ll naturally begin to switch off as their leaving date approaches.
  • Training time — Even the best hires won’t be at max capacity from day one. It can take weeks of training and onboarding until your new hire is working to the same level as their predecessor. In specialist roles, there may be the added cost of legally required third-party training.
  • Recruitment fees — Hiring takes a lot of time. If you don’t have a big HR team, you’ll likely need to work with a recruitment agency to fill your vacant roles with the right people. Those commission fees can quickly add up, especially if you need to recruit for senior roles.
  • Cost of new equipment — In many industries, your new staff will need dedicated computers, uniforms and specialist gear before they can do their job.
  • The domino effect — Perhaps most costly of all is the effect that a departure can have on your other employees. In the gap between someone leaving and someone else starting, some team members will need to pick up the slack. When that’s added to an already overwhelming workload, it can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, leading to a slippery slope of notice letters.

The key problems that lead to high staff turnover (and how to solve them)

If you want to reduce your staff turnover, you first need to identify the root issues that are contributing to it.

Below, we’ve outlined 5 of the most common problems businesses suffer from that can lead to high staff turnover, along with the best strategies to resolve them.

1. Your staff are overworked

When it feels like there’s too much work that will never get finished, it’s difficult to find any mental downtime even outside of work.

Naturally, it’s instinctive to want to remove ourselves from the stressful situation, which is why complaints of being overworked are one of the key causes of high staff turnover.

Solution: Redistribute and outsource

If your team is stretched, work out who is in the most danger of burnout by assessing their workloads. If one person is at more risk than the others, redistribute that work by giving a couple of their less important tasks to other employees. Alternatively, you could outsource work temporarily until you can make a new hire.

2. There are no progression opportunities

Not every role will have a clear progression path, but without clarity on what to strive for, employees become disheartened and start seeing their job as a dead-end. They’ll start looking elsewhere for some variety; they’ll want to broaden their skillset.

Solution: Swap the ladder for a lattice

Instead of focusing on moving employees upwards, consider how they can move outwards. Invest time into creating personalised progression plans based on the new skills they want to learn (maybe from departments outside their own) and check in regularly with them to see how you can help them achieve those goals.

3. They want a better salary

Once an employee gets offered a better salary in another role, it’s tricky to coax them back without things getting very expensive indeed. Even in today’s benefits-focused work culture, salary is still the elephant in the room.

Solution: Be transparent about salary increases

One reason many people accept jobs for better pay elsewhere is that they don’t expect it to increase in their current role. Set objectives tied to salary increases to make visible to staff when their next pay rise is due and what they need to do to achieve it.

4. They don’t fit the culture

If staff don’t share the same values as the business they work for, there will always be conflict, no matter how many salary increases and benefits come their way. Bad culture fits are usually the result of unscrupulous hiring and can cost you business significantly even before that employee decides to leave.

Solution: Revise your interviewing process

Define what your business values are and incorporate them into your interview process. Write up some questions that can address culture-fit problems you’ve experienced with hires in the past; leave them open-ended to get a better feel of what your candidate really thinks. You should also introduce them to the wider team so you can talk about first impressions with someone else that you trust.

This way, you can detect the warning signs before your new employee starts.

5. Staff don’t get enough feedback

If your team members aren’t receiving regular feedback on their performance, they can start to feel ignored, or that the work they do isn’t valued. This can cause a disconnect between them and your business, meaning they’ll seek out somewhere that they believe will give them more recognition.

Solution: Public praise and private critiques

If someone has done something great, tell the world about it. Make time in the week for managers to give shout-outs to their team for their achievements in front of the whole company, whether that’s on a Monday or a Friday afternoon. When you need to provide some constructive feedback, do so privately and in person. This shows that you are genuinely trying to help them improve rather than air grievances, and they’ll appreciate having clarity on what to develop on.

Happy staff, healthy business

Retaining your staff doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Sometimes, all it takes is a little more time focused on their wellbeing to nip small issues in the bud before they become big ones and save your company thousands every year.

Natasa Christofidou
Natasa Christofidou

Writes articles about customer service and business process outsourcing.