Staff Turnover & Motivation
Employees leave companies for a number of reasons, including lack of trust in leadership, limited opportunity for advancement and career development, and because the job wasn't what the employee thought it would be, according to Leigh Branham, author of "The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave." Employees usually don't leave for more money, he concluded -- they leave because they're no longer motivated to work for the organization. The relationship between turnover and motivation is relatively unexplored. Turnover isn't always a result of lack of motivation and dissatisfaction among employees; turnover itself also has an impact on employee motivation, causing dips and spikes in employee motivation.
The reasons why employees leave their jobs aren't always factored into turnover analyses. Turnover may appear to be high or to occur frequently even though the reasons employees give for leaving are out of your control. For example, if you have several employees who are military spouses, you might experience turnover when the trailing spouse has to quit once the service member is transferred to another post. This is why it's essential to document the reasons for resignations and involuntary terminations to factor into your turnover analysis. Both voluntary resignations and involuntary terminations can affect remaining employees' morale and motivation.
If your company has had to terminate employees for performance issues, attendance problems or policy violations, chances are the reasons are kept confidential. However, for employees on the outside looking in, they might assume that you're cleaning house by and arbitrarily firing employees, instead of terminating employees for justifiable reasons. If you're simply enforcing the company's attendance policies or ensuring that you retain only high-performing employees, other employees may not even know why their coworkers have been fired. This can cause employee motivation to plummet based on their concerns about job security. To mitigate employees' fears about job security after a series of terminations, schedule regular staff meetings to share news about the organization's successes and future direction in which you reassure employees that the company is stable.
Based on the reasons employees give for resigning from their jobs, voluntary turnover also can affect workforce motivation. When employees leave because they're dissatisfied or if turnover occurs frequently in the early stages of the employment relationship, other employees may sense there's something wrong or that leadership is so ineffective that employees are seeking employment elsewhere. This also causes motivation to drop because employees begin to look for reasons why the company has failed its workers. Address the reasons why employees are leaving by examining the exit interviews and lending ongoing guidance to department leadership. You could also conduct roundtable discussions and focus groups for employees to share their concerns about the company and their jobs. Also, implement a process for employees to report concerns and issues and encourage employees to use the process. Many employers -- large and small businesses alike -- subscribe to an employee relations hotline system that handles anonymous calls from employees. The matters are then forwarded to the employer to resolve.
On the other hand, turnover can add a positive dimension to employee motivation, particularly for employees who have a future with the company. When long-term employees in higher-level positions leave the organization, it creates opportunities for employees who want to be promoted to the positions being vacated. For example, in cases where an employee whose tenure with the organization spans decades finally retires, employees who are already on a career track or tagged for your succession plan see an opportunity to advance and are, therefore, motivated to work harder to prove they're worthy of recognition and advancement. If you have a promote-from-within policy, it's likely that you'll witness certain employees demonstrating their capabilities to take on additional responsibilities when they witness turnover in the upper ranks.