Tuned In and Turned On


Is your staff tuned in to what your customers need? Do you ever worry about losing your top performers? Is your ratio of low performers outnumbering the good ones? How do you know when to take action? To feel confident that you’re managing your team better than your competition is managing theirs, read on. 

Knowing your turnover rate is a good place to start. Besides increasing your costs related to recruitment and training, high turnover rates mean that your workforce likely lacks experience which translates to less efficiency and an increased number of mistakes, at least for a while. Your staff turnover rate also tells part of the story of what is going on with your workforce. 

To calculate turnover, consider the last calendar year. Divide the number of employees who have left the organization by the average number of employees during the same period and multiply by 100. For example:  if four employees out of 35 left in one calendar year, then the annual turnover rate is 11.4%. 

You might be thinking that counting someone who leaves the organization due to a decision to stay home with a new little one, to return to full time post-secondary education or to move out of the area might not be a good reflection of your company’s turnover or level of employee engagement. And you may be right. In calculating your assessment it’s okay to omit those departures, as long as you make a note of the exclusions to avoid comparing apples to oranges in the future.  

The rate should be compared to that of the industry, if possible. Ask colleagues what their turnover rate is to help you understand how you compare. If your rate is higher, consider how you can achieve better results by understanding why the employees made a decision to leave. Do you use exit interviews with departing employees to really understand their motivation for leaving? Be brave enough to ask, “what could I (or the company) have done differently?” Then, be prepared to shift your thinking if a pattern emerges.  

Turnover rate is a reflection of employee engagement and employee engagement is the catch phrase that thought leaders and coaches are talking a lot about these days. But what exactly does it mean? In a recent blog by Michael Brenner on the American Society for Training and Development website, engagement is described as: The extent to which a person chooses to apply their talent, energy and care toward any effort.”[i] 

Every employee brings talent to the employment relationship, but whether or not they bring their energy and care to work may be a different matter. Some people just bring it, others don’t have it to bring, but there are those who may be in the middle ground. This is where your leadership skills can be particularly influential. 

Leaders have to help other people get what they want out of life. Try to understand how you can help individual employees progress towards accomplishing meaningful work. If you can do that, both you and your employees will get what you want, both for the company and personally. It’s a beautiful thing to develop your employees’ talents to the point of making yourself obsolete. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes for a moment. If you want to grow and develop, they likely do too. It’s not a bad thing for a business owner to have the freedom to do other things and let his or her staff step up and take charge. 

Getting a handle on employee engagement is more than calculating turnover, it’s all about knowing your workforce and how they are motivated to perform. Aligning your company’s goals with the employees’ goals brings value beyond the numbers.