Do you know why your workers are leaving?

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Do you know why your workers are leaving?

With research showing that poor management was the biggest reason why employees moved on, it was vital for managers to become more involved in developing their workers’ skills and retaining them, a Sydney audience heard last week.

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With research showing that poor management was the biggest reason why employees moved on, it was vital for managers to become more involved in developing their workers’ skills and retaining them, a Sydney audience heard last week.

Karen Cicero, from WorkplaceInfo’s partner HRM Consulting, told a workshop on Interpreting HR Information this meant encouraging employees to move through the organisation not only to develop their own experience, but to avoid the ‘silo effect’, whereby different parts of an organisation had no idea what other areas were involved in.

Separations - specifically employee-initiated ones - were a valuable source of information for HR managers, Cicero said. Two rules of thumb applied:

  • Employees leaving within the first year were generally doing so because the job had been sold to them wrongly, and it was not the job they thought it would be;
  • Those leaving in the second or third years were either generally leaving because of poor management or lack of career progression, or because they may not be getting the development they needed.

Thus, the first question HR managers should be asking was: of those workers who have come on board in the past year, how many are we losing? Or, put another way, how many employees have only stayed one year?

And Cicero warned it was not enough just to gather the exit information - it must be collated and examined for trends, rather than gathering dust. As exit surveys could sometimes not be forthcoming, with employees waiting for positive references, she suggested employers consider using post-exit surveys. This involved asking employees why they had left after they were safely in their next job.

Recruitment surveys were also useful tools - asking new employees and even unsuccessful applicants what had attracted them to the organisation in the first place would give the company an idea of what was important to workers. In a similar vein, Cicero said when recruiting it was important to sell the whole package - geographical location, work-life balance and so on - rather than just the salary, as workers had consistently been shown not to be solely, or even mainly, motivated by money.

Staff movement information should then be used to inform a staff development program. ‘Drilling down helps focus your initiatives,’ Cicero said. ‘Your investment is more likely to work if you target the right areas.’

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