Let me start by saying not all turnover is bad. Organizations who effectively “manage out” underperformers and candidates who self select out of the job can open the door to backfill the position with a candidate who is a better fit. However there are also forms of turnover that aren’t as good and need to be avoided as much as possible. As many HR professionals have come to find out there are many reasons why employees exit the organization. However some themes emerge over time and are fairly stable from one organization to the next. Some of the most cited reasons are (1) pay/compensation (essentially this means employees are leaving for another opportunity that is offering more money) and (2) their relationship with their boss/manager, among many others.
Each situation is different and various organizational interventions may help to reduce turnover. However based on my experience with organizations who hire hourly employees there is typically one area that is overlooked the most. Supervisors and managers have a huge impact on the morale of their staff. It certainly makes sense given their function in the organization. It also makes sense that effective leaders have the ability to improve morale, increase productivity, and generally make the workplace more pleasant for everyone involved, particularly their staff. However they also have the ability to derail these outcomes if they are not effective. More specifically they are one of the most commonly cited reason for employee turnover.
It is interesting when I start my engagements with organizations whose stated goals include the reduction of turnover. Most of the time the methods they use to reduce turnover include focusing solely on the “hourly” population and things they can do differently to find better candidates who are less likely to turnover. More times than not the organization and HR team see it as the “bad candidate pool” that is driving their turnover. I suppose it is easier to blame turnover on the hourly population and try to impact change through recruitment rather than develop their supervisors and managers to be better and more likeable leaders. However, impacting turnover by focusing on supervisors and managers doesn’t need to be as difficult as it sounds. A focus on supervisor and manager hiring and development could be the key to lowing turnover.
Next time you are engaged with a “turnover problem” please do not forget about the folks that can impact this issue most. At the very least you should ensure you are putting as much effort into your supervisor/manager selection process as you are for your higher volume (and higher turnover) hourly workers. Adding a short online assessment or behavioral interview to the process could make a huge difference. Not only will you find better managers but you will impact your overall turnover as a result as well.