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Five steps to survive turnover

Written on Nov 15, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Craig_HohnbergerTurnover is inevitable, but it can be especially painful if multiple employees leave the company within a short timeframe.

“We want to do all we can to avoid bad turnover,” said Craig Hohnberger, founder of Buji ActionCOACH. “Bad turnover is losing good people. Good turnover is upgrading your team by getting rid of the wrong people.”

The impact of losing an employee is nothing to scoff at, with reports noting the total cost to the organization over time could be 1.5-2 times that employee’s salary. Hohnberger said instituting strong hiring and coaching strategies can be your saving grace in these worst-case scenarios.

“You should already have people in the wings,” he said.

After hiring people who are strong candidates and fit your team’s culture, he said you need to coach your team to ensure more junior employees can step in when needed. He listed five steps to make this happen:

  1. A junior employee watches a senior employee perform a task.
  2. The next time, the junior employee participates and help the senior employee with the task.
  3. After that, the junior employee performs the task while the senior helps and course corrects when necessary.
  4. The junior employee performs the task from start to finish while the senior person watches them.
  5. The junior employee completes the task on their own.

The steps might seem obvious, but Hohnberger said it’s something he’s seen companies overlook completely. Then they’re scrambling after losing a top performer who had very specific knowledge that no one else bothered to learn.

He warned that some people might need to repeat a step multiple times before they’re prepared to move on to the next, but this shouldn’t deter more experienced employees from helping others. He said company leaders need to regularly assess how prepared they would be should a certain employee leave.

“In a perfect world, a key player leaves and it creates a domino effect,” Hohnberger said. “This person plugs that spot and this person plugs that spot and eventually you hire someone. We need good procedures, systems and accountability so whoever you hire from the outside can get up to speed relatively quickly.”

Although turnover can be stressful, he urged leaders not to get overwhelmed in the moment and approach it from a more optimistic perspective, knowing you have solid policies in place to handle the aftermath.

“Always look at turnover from the positive perspective, even if it feels bad in the immediate sense,” Hohnberger said. “Look at it like ‘what can we learn from this?’ and ‘how can we get better as an organization?’”