Magazine excerpt: Five steps to cut turnover rate

Michelle Lanter-Smith on how to find, retain and grow your best people.

It is no secret that it is a job seekers’ market. Combined with a high turnover rate, it is difficult to remain fully staffed. Some companies are seeking to reduce the headcount by cross-training employees.

Cross-training is a professional development technique used to train employees in different roles or skills. However, this is only an effective strategy when you are able to retain those employees during and after training. In order to keep the best of the bunch, you’ll want some steps to cut your turnover rate. 

Culture of communication

A high turnover rate can seriously impact your bottom line. Creating a culture of communication can help reduce turnover. There are two main reasons employees leave a business – forced separation (firing), and voluntary separation (quitting).

Firing typically occurs because the employee lacks motivation or is unsuitable for the position. This indicates a need for improvement in the recruiting and hiring process – finding ways to get a better fit. Quitting is an indication that the employee was unhappy or had a better offer elsewhere.

This calls into question what you are doing to engage and retain employees. 

Proactive ways to cut turnover

We’ll take a two-pronged approached to reduce turnover, addressing both forced and voluntary separation: improving your recruiting and hiring process to nip forced separation in the bud, and reducing voluntary separation through careful employee management with an emphasis on employee engagement.

Stated simply, to make an impact on turnover in your business, you must hire the right employees and retain them. The following five steps can help you accomplish that goal. 

  • Create a job description

With every hiring process, it starts with the job description, so your fight against turnover starts here as well. Creating a job description may seem like a basic step to filling a position, but including the right information is essential to finding the right candidate.

This is the first impression of your company you give the candidate. Use it to set the standards of your business from the start. Be honest in the description without being brutally honest. Furthermore, post the job description to multiple job boards to gain more traction.

Whatever the position and no matter the number of applicants, it important to have a response plan in place. 

  • Schedule interviews

The next step is scheduling interviews. It can be hard to sort through the piles of CVs and applications – so include applicant questions that will easily determine your top candidates. Before conducting an interview, think about the questions you plan to ask. The right interview questions can reveal a great deal about the candidate. Examples include:

Why did you leave your last job?

Where do you see yourself six months from now? Tell me about a conflict you had at work and how you resolved it. 

  • Screen applicants

Once you have a selection of promising applicants, do a double-check. It’s probably already a part of your hiring process to conduct a background check, but don’t leave out a reference call. A reference check can provide insight into how the candidate performs in a work environment.

While a background check only uncovers any criminal record or major employment complications. It may also be important to review what you consider a “major employment complication”. The way that the job market has changed in the past 10 years should also change how you view red flags.

Common red flags that you might need to rethink are criminal records, job hopping, and employment gaps. The red flags that you can’t miss in today’s work culture are fired employees and employees with a history of misconduct. 

In the age of #MeToo, it is important to be aware of your company’s liability. Traditional background checks often won’t reveal whether someone has a history of sexual misconduct unless formal charges are made. This is another reason why a reference check is incredibly important to root out possible issues.


About the author

Michelle Lanter-Smith is the chief marketing officer of EPAY Systems.


To find out all five ways to cut employee turnover, get yourself a free 3-month subscription to TJ magazine here 


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