Thoughts on employee turnover


I recently had a discussion with a client about the current employee situation in his company. Naturally, we got talking about retention, onboarding and the high staff turnover rate.

The way he pronounced the word “Fluktuation” (German for “turnover”) sounded a little strange to me. I wondered if it was just his dialect or the poor virtual acoustics. Even as I was pondering this, I began to like what I was hearing. 

Now you may ask, what exactly was I hearing?

To my ears, it sounded as if he was talking about staff “FLUCHTuation” (“Flucht” in German means “flight” or “escape”). 

And that made a whole lot of sense to me.

Not only did a recent Gallup study prove it, but countless conversations with employees come back to this very point: Employees quit. Because of the heavy workload, bad management, a bad work environment, and more.

But is it really always a flight response? I think the answer to that question is critical when it comes to identifying the levers that need to be pulled. Because it is important to distinguish between the following aspects:

Is it a movement “away from” something or rather “toward” something else? I think that makes all the difference. Because the motivation to quit is completely different in those two cases. Someone who wants to move “away” from my company has clearly gone through a great deal of suffering that has made them realize that no matter what they find elsewhere, it can only get better! Someone who is moving “toward” another position in another company has recognized what they want in terms of advancement, what position and task ignites their passion, and is offered exactly that opportunity in another company. 

Therefore, depending on the reasons why people quit, it’s possible to deduce what specific change measures should be considered or even implemented in the company. The quitting is only a symptom of something. And it is precisely this “something” that we need to investigate – and it’s where we need to start.

The motivational situation or flight movement of employees can be uncovered by simply asking them. In my experience, people tend to answer this question honestly, which means that the employee is making a valuable contribution to the development of your company on their way out. Does that make sense to you?

By the way, when I told my client what I’d heard, he clarified that he really meant “employee turnover.” But he also liked my “misunderstanding” and it got us even deeper into discussing the options on the table.

Need a sparring partner on this topic? Feel free to contact me. I look forward to a lively exchange of ideas and interesting conversations, so that together, we can outline creative and customized solutions for you.

Wishing you stimulating discussions!

Go for it,

Your Crisis Manager

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