Six reasons why you’re having employee turnover … and how to prevent it

November 1, 2013

There seems to be a common statement we've heard in the past few months: Betty put in her notice or John hasn't called or shown up in three days. Job-shifting is occurring more now than we've seen in a long time.

When there is a job opening in a business, the company's production numbers will always take a hit. The size and cost of the hit will depend on the structure of the company's policies, procedures, and training. According to Inc. magazine, 42% of business owners state that their biggest challenge is finding and keeping skilled workers.

Before we can effectively find and even keep workers, let's first ask WHY workers are leaving. The most common reason that an employee gives for leaving is frustration. This frustration can be based on:

1. An ogre-type employer or office manager. This person is always grumpy, yelling, or just never satisfied. The frustrated employee often states that just a “thank you” every once in a while would have made life so much better.

2. Unfair office policies. One employee is always late, leaves early, or doesn't complete his or her job accurately, yet never gets called out on it. The rest of the team works harder or suffers because of the weak link. Similarly, one employee gets preferential treatment.

3. Unwritten or underwritten company policies. No one knows the rules until they are called out for breaking them. This can be due to an outdated office manual or not having one at all.

4. Poor time management. The team rarely gets a full lunch, if ever, or consistently clocks out at 7 or 8 p.m. (when the day should end at 5).

5. A hostile environment. The feeling of sabotage, blame-game, or “gonna get ya” runs rampant on a daily basis.

6. Lack of trust by doctor or manager. This is a hard one for an employee to overcome.

If any of those six problems sound familiar, then chances are that you have a pretty high turnover rate in your office. Statistics show that each time there is a change in an employee, the business will incur a hickey that is equivalent to the size of the departing employee's yearly salary.

It is imperative to understand and learn the following strategies to minimize this cost to your practice.

1. The employer should always make time for an exit interview. This is not a job to delegate to a manager since it is your employee giving important details about your business. Create a form to fill out and include it in the employee's personnel file. Ask specific, pertinent questions that will drill down to the real reason for the departure.

Emphasize confidentiality and ask for honesty. (If you need an exit interview questionnaire, we have one to share. Send us an email at info@GTSgurus.com.)

2. Understand that managing and leadership are two different things. Managing is guiding people to perform the daily operations in the most efficient manner to ensure that the business meets or exceeds production goals. As a business owner, you are leading your team in the direction of your goals and maintaining your mission and vision.

3. The biggest mistake a business owner can make is to lead without setting the correct example. You require all team members to be ready for the morning huddle at 7:45, yet you notoriously walk in at 7:55. You demand exact actions toward OSHA compliance, yet you walk to the front desk wearing your gloves. You lecture about no texting, Facebook, or personal calls during office hours, yet delay hygiene checks because you're in the middle of a Candy Crush Saga game.

What you preach, you too must live.

4. Everyone approaches conflict differently, and that in and of itself can cause friction. Understand that friction can be good. It can be beneficial and it can be healthy, if it’s dealt with appropriately. Friction doesn’t mean knock-down drag-out fights. It means that opinions differ yet from those differing opinions can come creative, innovative ideas.

5. Giving your employees a voice is important to the growth of your business. Routine team meetings with set agendas are a breeding ground for new, creative ideas through brainstorming sessions. Listen to all ideas, but know that the buck stops with the owner ... and so does the final decision.

6. Everyone is important but no one is irreplaceable. Once the rules are set and the correct examples are given, the job must be done, according to your standards. If the rule states, “3 strikes and you are out,” then it's easy for you to do what the rule states. Everyone is held to the same standard and anyone who chooses not to meet that standard must go.

7. Cross-training is the only way a small business can survive shifts in jobs. It might mean that on the third week of the month, the insurance person switches tasks with the recall person or the hygiene assistant swaps with the sterile tech. Two people need to know how, when, and from whom supplies are ordered.

Two people know to understand how the electronic confirmation system is set up and how to modify it. If someone terminates his or her job, another person is immediately trained (and not necessarily the new hire). An up-to-date list of all passwords is kept by the doctor, which includes insurance websites, office website, Facebook page, and supplier's websites.

These sites often require a password charge periodically, so the doctor's list needs updating monthly or quarterly.

Employees leave for all reasons, including life changes. In order for a business owner to really understand why an employee is leaving, it is important to ask and to be prepared as the transition takes place.