June 25, 2018

How to Deal With High Turnover Rates


Turnover. It means extra time spent hiring and recruiting. It means losing productivity while training new hires. It means low employee morale and strain on your organization.

High turnover is a disease to your business. Left untreated, it can bring an organization down.

How high is high turnover? Well, that depends. Turnover rates vary by industry, with some reaching as high as 6.1 percent against an average rate of 3.5 percent across all sectors.

But no matter your industry, no business can succeed without a steady, reliable supply of talent.

Let’s just say it: High turnover is the result of bad hiring practices. If your business is suffering from turnover problems, you need to take a close look at your hiring process. Maybe the hiring manager is getting too comfortable. Maybe hiring processes are poorly defined. Maybe hiring processes were never defined to begin with!

Whatever your situation, high turnover means your hiring process needs some revision. Here are a few steps you can take:

Understand What You Really Need in a Candidate

This step might sound so obvious you’ll be tempted to skip it. But let me ask you one question: Have you ever known someone who made the wrong hire because the candidate felt so right at the time? Maybe you yourself have hired a candidate who aced the interview but turned out to be a dud.

This kind of thing happens all the time, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s so important to define in extensive detail exactly what you want in a candidate. Know your minimum requirements, your ideal requirements, and any potential deal-breakers. Setting these parameters will allow you to filter out all the candidates who don’t live up to your standards.

Identify the Traits a Candidate Must Have to Thrive in Your Environment

Obviously, you want a candidate who has the skills to do the job, but if your goal is to reduce turnover, you need more than that.

You need to think hard about soft skills. You need to think hard about culture fit. You need to think hard about the mix of personalities in your office and the personality traits a candidate is going to need to thrive in that environment.

This means more than just finding a candidate who holds your company’s values — although that is important. But you also have to know the group dynamics of your office and look for the kind of person who will excel under those conditions.

Ask the Right Interview Questions

Once you understand your ideal candidate, you must develop a set of questions that will identify the person who comes close to that ideal.

One of the common tactics for doing this is asking behavioral questions. These questions require candidates to explain how they have handled common workplace situations in the past. An example might be: “Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult customer.”

The goal is to develop a set of questions that will surface evidence — or the lack thereof — of the specific skills, traits, and competencies you need in your next employee.

Make Your Hiring Process Objective

This might come as a shocker, but sometimes hiring managers hire people just because they’re likable. The candidate may not have the skills or the culture fit, but darn did they charm their way into the position!

Sometimes, this works out great. Often, however, it’s a disaster.

It’s important for your hiring process to be as objective as possible. One way to do this is to develop a scorecard that ranks candidates according to how well they exhibit the core skills, competencies, and traits you need. It’s also a good idea to have multiple people interview each candidate, as the increased number of perspectives should lead to a more objective decision.

Talk to an Expert

Sometimes it pays to bring in an expert. Hiring can be a challenge in the best situations, and under the pressure of high turnover it can be almost impossibly difficult. Consider getting in touch with an expert who works with these kinds of problems regularly, such as a professional executive recruiter. An insightful expert can guide you through the process and maybe even take the problem off of your hands.

Jeffrey Audette is president of VMG Recruiting. Contact Jeff at [email protected].

Read more in Turnover

Jeffrey Audette is the president of VMG Recruiting. With more than 25 years of experience in recruiting, Jeff has partnered with small, medium, and Fortune 500 firms, helping them find the talent they need. You can learn more at VMGT.com or contact Jeff at [email protected]