Is Unwanted Turnover Keeping You Up at Night? We’ve Got Some Ideas!

Is Unwanted Turnover Keeping You Up at Night? We’ve Got Some Ideas!

by Sara Bennett | November 27, 2019

0 Author-Jeanne, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION get connected


There are ways to make sure your team stays on track, even when people leave.

OMG – another team member has JUST handed you their notice.  If you’re like me your head immediately goes to the pejorative – how will I ever replace this employee who has all that expertise and tribal knowledge?    And not far behind come your concerns (okay fears) about the impact to the team – geez, one more staffing change.

Any turnover, even the wanted kind, creates a unique set of challenges.  For Northwest employers, the challenge is greatly exacerbated by a tight candidate marketplace that isn’t bursting with replacement options.  No kidding – not only will it take more time than you have just to find a replacement employee, but you run the risk that who you hire won’t be the right fit.  (50% of hiring decisions turn out to be hiring mistakes)

Meanwhile you have to know that your team and its customers will be wondering about what’s next.  With “one more person jumping ship” is this ship going to stay afloat?

Been there?  In this job market, we suspect you have.

If good bye parties are becoming a monthly or quarterly occurrence, it’s probably time for you to take another look at this turnover thing.  While turnover will definitely keep your leadership skills sharpened, we think a change in mindset and a few new tools in your management toolkit, it can actually turn out to be a good thing.

First, here’s some what’s and why’s behind turnover that will make it clear that you’re not alone – turnover is here to stay and it’s not likely to get better – for you, or any employer.

In terms of the TURNOVER WHAT’S, here’s what some quick research shows….

  • In 2017 the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) projected a US turnover rate of 19% – or one in every five employees leaving their jobs the following year (2018). In that same year, the Work Institute estimated that 42 million, or 1 out of every 4 employees, would leave their jobs in 2018.

Look around your office – that’s a whole lot of comings and goings.

  • But, turnover rates vary by industry and job category.  Call centers, for example, are notorious for excessively high levels of turnover, sometimes as high as 50-75% turnover annually   If you’re losing one employee for every 3 you hire, even though your service levels are impacted, you’re doing well.

Hourly employees’ turnover at higher rates than do salaried employees.

Industries with higher than normal turnover rates include retail, hospitality, construction, professional and business services.

Industries with lower than average turnover rates include manufacturing, information and financial services.

To understand the WHYS behind these WHATS, here’s what we know about why employee’s leave jobs.

  • Because they can! The ease with which an employee can find a new job has considerably impacted turnover rates across the board. If something goes wrong at work on Friday, a disgruntled employee can be on line over the weekend and land a new job within one or two weeks.

While new employers should be leery of employees who are quick to pull the trigger when things don’t go their way, all employers need to remember that a new job is  only a click and an on line app away.  It doesn’t take much to create a turnover.

  • There are lots of new ways to earn a living. Opportunities to become part of the “gig” economy – no boss, no supervisor, no employer – has become an increasingly tempting alternative for many employees. After years of dealing with unexpected layoffs, changes in business strategy, and job shrinking acquisitions, many employees have bought into the notion that the best job security is the kind you get when you’re in charge.


  • Deliberate, career enhancing “job hopping” is now a social norm…often the preferred and easiest way for an employees to get an increase in pay, a sexier job title, or better opportunities to grow their career. If you’ve just hired a college grad, statistics tell you you’re likely to have them 2ish years before they’re ready to move on.  The new workforce is constantly looking at what’s new.  And they’re not afraid to start over to get the opportunity to explore.


  • The reasons candidates give for changing jobs have significantly shifted over the last decade – with many of these reasons outside an employer’s control. Employees leave jobs to move to new locations, to spend more time with their families, to work closer to home.  They are less likely to stick with a job purely just because it pays more – preferring instead a job that is more in sync with their “life style” choices or garden variety issues that suggest they probably shouldn’t have been hired in the first place –   they aren’t the “right fit”!
  • My supervisor’s management style doesn’t work for me.
  • The company’s culture is too cliquish. I feel left out.
  • The company is demanding more from me than I want to give. I can’t sacrifice my personal life just to get ahead.
  • My employer isn’t giving me the promotional opportunities I need. I wanted to have a manager title by now in my career.     
  • My life style no longer makes it easy for me to work for this level of pay.

What Can I Do to Turnover into Something Good?  

Believe it or not, turnover can result in something positive with a quick adjustment in mindset and the right solutions. While some of our advice will sound “self-serving” (part of what we do is temporary staffing and we have a bias towards making temporary/contingent staffing at least a part of our client’s staffing arsenal),  here’s some of the ways we work with clients who are dealing with more turnover than they would like…..

  • Get and STAY Prepared. If you’re in a high turnover industry, turnover is a fact of life and you just need to deal with it.  If you’re a call center you’ve likely heard us suggest that 10-20% of your call center agents should be “temps” auditioning for hire.  Why? When the inevitable turnover occurs, you’ve already got someone in place – ready to be hired.

There are multiple reasons why employers use “flexible staffing strategies” – one of them is to help high turnover industries avoid the gaps in performance that are created by turnover.

  • Identify the Gaps and Fill Them In Quickly.  When someone leaves your team, the team’s first concern is almost always about the backlog of work that if allowed to pile up creates additional stress and pressure on the remaining team members.    While it might be tempting to backfill work with existing team members, that’s not always the best decision, and may, in fact, lead to more turnover.

We think a temporary employee is often the better solution – a way to fill in the gaps left by a departing employee without unduly burdening the folks on your team who you want (as in need) to stay in place.  Even someone to answer the phones do routine filing or errand running while work is being reshuffled elsewhere,  can be a god send to a busy team.  Let’s face it, it might take you months to ‘find” the right new hire, but a temp can be on boarded within a few days.

And who knows, your “temp” may turn out to be more than just a temporary solution.  At PACE, close to 40% of our temporary employees get hired by our clients after working on a temporary assignment.

  • Create New Opportunities for Others on the Team – New Reasons for Them to Stay.  When someone leaves your team, there almost always are some new opportunities for others to step into new responsibilities that can expand their skill sets or increase their contribution to the team.

If you’re bringing on a temp, ask a current team member to oversee their work.

If you know of team members who want to grow their careers, approach them with the chance to take on some new responsibilities, to learn more about your team, your business.  Give them a reason to stay.

  • Reinvigorate Your Vision for the Team.  Your vision about how the team is going to navigate thru the transition but how the team will be “even better” once the transition is completed, will keep  team members motivated, embracing your vision of what might lie ahead.  Yes, you need to stay tactical for the moment – reassigning work quickly and clearly – but to make the most out of turnover, use this time to re invigorate your team around its vision for the future.
  • Involve the Team in Re Engineering the Work, Profiling and Selecting the Replacement Employee. Sometimes it’s easier to adjust or even significantly change a high impact work process when the folks who have been immersed in the old way of doing things are no longer there.    Take advantage of a “new vacancy” to rethink how work gets done.  Invite everyone’s feedback.  Involve everyone when you’re profiling the replacement employee.

I recently worked with a team who had lost their VP of Sales and needed to replace that high level leader at a time when sales targets weren’t being met, morale was waning.    By involving the VP’s direct reports in the profiling process, asking their input on the work they most wanted their VP to accomplish during their first year on the job and the leadership qualities in the new hire that would be most important to them, we were able to engage the team in ways that kept them energized, rather than demoralized,  about their future.  And guess what? We were able to quickly pinpoint, find and hire the right replacement!

Soooo…if you’ve taken our advice to plug in a gap by bringing on a temporary employee,  you might consider keeping that temp in place for 3-4 months rather than re hiring your replacement employee right away.  It often takes 3-4 months to re think how the team wants to get work done and what skills or personal qualities will be needed in the replacement hire.

We’re probably biased, but we think the strategy of putting a temp in place while hiring is one of the smartest things a hiring manager can do to keep their team humming even during staffing or organizational changes.   Our temporary employees love the challenge of helping our clients thru these changes.

  • Renew Your Commitment to Team member Retention. There are several ways you can show your team that you are serious about their retention.   We recommend initiating formalized exit or stay interview programs so that you are continually learning why people are leaving (or staying) and can implement changes, if needed, quickly.

Obviously if there are some re occurring issues that are creating leavings, you need to get those issues addressed and corrected.  In similar fashion if there are reasons that consistently come up as to why people like working on your team, you’ll need to make sure those reasons are embedded in what you do going forward.   Correct your weaknesses.  Lean into your strengths…     

Now would be a good to mention that one of PACE’s latest service offerings are third party exit interviews that we have provided to clients being impacted by higher than normal rates of turnover.  For our clients who are battling a turnover issue and need to know more about how to address their turnover smartly, our exit interview program has produced some invaluable insights – information they may not have picked up on their own.

We also use exit interviews to better define the type of employees who might be a better “fit” for the job in the future.

If you are an employer who wants to know more about what’s behind the turnover you’ve had or want to make sure that your “next hire” is a better fit for the job you need done, give our partner development team a call at 425-637-3312 to have a conversation about how we can help.

While getting notice from one of your most valued employees is likely not your favorite moment, with a shift in attitude and the use of a few tactical ideas, even an unwanted turnover can be turned into something positive for you and your team. Re-group.  Re-Ignite.  Move on to your newest version of “better.”  Top of Form

PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  3-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation, PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find, hire, and retain employees,  contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail our Partner Solutions  team  at

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