Are you losing employees faster then you can replace them? Excessive turnover is expensive and poses a risk to your operation. There may be hidden issues that are causing the exodus. Sarah Fogelman, KansasStateUniversity, offers some root causes and how to head off the problem.

  • When hiring, tell prospective employees exactly what the job involves, what the expected work hours are and why the job is important. A written job description is a great way to do this. Make sure you evaluate the person’s past experience and contact references. If possible, hire on a probation basis to be evaluated later.
  • Thorough training. This is critical to retaining employees, and it will pay off each time a task is done. Make it a formal procedure. Do the training in an area that minimizes distractions. Use demonstrations, videos, manuals and employees who have experience in the area or task. Training should continue through one full production cycle, and needs to be refreshed with each change of season. Make effective, on-going training a top priority.
  • Cross-train. This can be invaluable when employee gaps occur and threaten to interrupt the smooth function of a critical area. It also provides possible career options for employees who want to move up.
  • Give feedback. Research shows that giving employees feedback is one of managers’ most frequent failures. Feedback should be given often in both formal and informal settings. Feedback also can come in the form of unit or operation performance.
  • Communicate with employees often, especially with new employees. Make sure they understand the full compensation package they receive. Put a dollar figure on all the perks such as insurance, sick leave and time off. Tell them, “your hourly wage is $12 but with all the extras, it’s more like $16.”
  • Do performance appraisals for everyone in the operation. Compliment employees formally for areas in which they excel and evaluate where improvement can be made. Explain exactly why improvement is crucial for the operation.
  • Conduct exit interviews. This may not always be possible, but fit it in when you can. Be open and sincere; you may discover problems that you didn’t know existed.

Finding and keeping good employees is a growing challenge and will not get easier. It requires time, effort and diligence.