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Thinking About Attrition Differently

May 31, 2023, By Seth Millis

Employee turnover is often viewed as a negative phenomenon in the business world. But employee turnover can actually be a sign of a healthy and dynamic company culture.

As we move into the NBA finals (can you even believe the Miami Heat – what a journey!), I often think about the types of teams and players that make up championship teams. Some teams are built from the ground up; drafting, developing, and growing young prospects into all-stars. Some teams exploit free agency in order to hand pick the best available players for immediate impact—shortsighted and short-lived on purpose. Finally, there are the teams that have a thoughtful, structured, effective, mix of role players, veterans, rookies and staff. One thing is true of all of these teams: they all have planned turnover. Players are routinely and carefully let go throughout the season for financial, personnel, load management and public relations reasons. Maybe planned attrition isn’t such a bad thing. 

Employee turnover is often viewed as a negative phenomenon in the business world. Managers and owners see high employee turnover as a sign of instability and a drain on company resources. Between onboarding, downtime, cross training and team building exercises, most companies invest tremendous resources after hiring. But employee turnover can actually be a sign of a healthy and dynamic company culture. Organizations that value growth and advancement may empower and even encourage their employees to leave their current role for a better opportunity elsewhere. Planned turnover also suggests that the organization itself values employees that pursue their career and personal goals. This can lead to a more motivated and engaged workforce, as employees feel that their contributions are valued and that they have a future, no matter where they end up. 

Employee turnover can usher in fresh perspectives and new ideas. When new employees join a company, they bring with them different experiences, skillsets and ways of thinking. This often leads to innovation and creativity, as employees collaborate and share knowledge. Embracing employee turnover and actively seeking out diverse talent can foster a culture of learning and growth. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but employee turnover can save companies money in the long run. Investing in employee development and training can be more expensive than simply hiring new talent. If an employee is not performing at the level required or is not a good fit for the company culture, it may be more cost-effective to let them go and bring in a new employee who is a better fit. Additionally, if an employee is looking to leave the company, it may be more expensive to try and retain them through incentives and benefits than to simply replace them with a new hire. 

Let’s not fool ourselves though. The negative effects of high employee turnover are obvious. Loss of tribal and organizational knowledge as well as decreased morale and increased recruitment costs are just some of the downsides. However, if managed properly, employee turnover can be a positive force within a company. By embracing turnover and using it as an opportunity to learn and grow, companies can create a culture that attracts and retains top talent. 

Organizational alumni can help shape your brand. It speaks volumes about a company when employees praise the employer they left. Social media groups are often created by organizational alumni to reminisce nostalgically about the team dynamics, the organization and even the perks they once enjoyed. Alumni can often return in different roles, affectionately known as boomerangs, but often they are grateful for the opportunity, the name recognition and the ability to use that experience to shape their career trajectory.  

We need not always fear employee turnover. By actively managing turnover and using it as a tool for improvement, companies can create a dynamic and engaged workforce while developing their current employees, attracting the best talent, and polishing their brand.  

Our latest Agent Experience Index found churn is at an all-time high. Are you delivering on what’s important to your agents? Find out when you download the report.  

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