Is Your Thinking About Employee Turnover All Wrong?


We all make decisions based on beliefs that may or may not be true; managing employee turnover is no different. Managers often approach employee retention from at least 1 of 5 common myths:

Myth 1: Employee Turnover is bad.
There is no question that turnover can be extremely harmful to organizations.
Truth is, though, that people leave organizations for all kinds of reasons, and they don’t all have the same implications for managing turnover.

Myth 2: Employee Turnover is all about pay.
It is true that some people quit because they are unhappy with their pay.
Yet, out of 35 predictors, level of pay was near the bottom and tied for the 24th strongest relationship with turnover.

Myth 3: Employee Turnover is about job dissatisfaction.
It is true that job attitudes like job dissatisfaction can lead to turnover.
But research shows that job satisfaction is a driving force in less than 50% of individual turnover decisions .

Myth 4: Employee Turnover is simple to manage with simple strategies.
Sometimes retention is simple.
But top research shows that a strategic evidence-based approach to retention management requires three broad foundations: developing a shared understanding of turnover among stakeholders; developing knowledge of underlying turnover principles and cause-effect relationships; and diagnosing and adapting to a particular organizational context. Doesn’t sound so simple anymore.

Myth 5: Employee turnover is an uncontrollable cost of doing business.
There are many factors that influence turnover decisions that are outside of managerial control, such as macro-economic conditions and labor market fluctuations.
However, there are evidence-based retention practices over which many managers have direct influence.

The good news is that much can be done in recruitment, training, compensation, and many more arenas to strategically manage employee retention. Even better, many of these same practices are also associated with improved employee productivity and performance.

Want to know more? David Allen and I compiled decades of scientific retention/turnover research into an easy-to-read, easy-to-implement book. Managing Employee Turnover (2012, Business Expert Press).

Copyright © Dr. Phil Bryant, 2012

Dr. Bryant is an Assistant Professor of Management at Columbus State University and co-author of Managing Employee Turnover.

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1 Comment

Filed under Management Musings

One response to “Is Your Thinking About Employee Turnover All Wrong?

  1. Thanks for the “like”, Spirit!

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