Don’t Let the Lazy People Go!

The low voluntary turnover fairy tale

dont let laizy people goAnnual Staff Meeting: The CEO hopes to encourage employee participation; the topics have been carefully chosen to stimulate communication exchange. However, nobody seems to care; the engineering is concentrated on the challenge of not falling asleep, the marketing is playing business bingo. When the meeting finally approaches the end, HR comes up with the slide about the low employee turnover rate. “We are doing a great job; our employees are high committed with our company” was the obvious conclusion.

A low voluntary turnover is not necessarily a positive development. A high turnover rate does not sound promising; that is true, and it is hard to justify a high fluctuation without concluding that the train ran off the rails. But if everybody is staying, it does not automatically means that it is favorable for your company.

Who is staying?

This is the important question to answer, Who is staying? If a certain employee has no intentions to leave the company, is that positive?

It surely depends on his performance; if he delivers an outstanding work, of course you are glad to have him in your crew. But maybe the employee’s performance is not that great, but not that bad too. Perhaps the employee has just settled down and turned to (or has always been) this kind of person who does not care much about his work.

In accordance with Gallup, worldwide, only 13% of employees are “engaged” at work [1]. From the remaining, 24% are actively disengaged and 63% “lack in motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals”. Several organizations grow without noticing their employees settling down. Work becomes bureaucratic, departments uncooperative, and employees turn on the I-don’t-care-mode.

In other words, you may have a low turnover rate because your employees are committed, motivated, and all of them are thrilled to work with you. But maybe the low turnover rate is due to the fact that your employees are inert and don’t dare to move out of their comfort zones.

Ambiguous information

The turnover rate alone has little informative value and can only be interpreted in combination with other measurements.  As discussed above, a low turnover alone might reflect:

  • a high employee engagement due to successful motivation and retention;
  • a high employee disengagement due to a deficiency in motivating employees;
  • a high employee disengagement due to a defective hiring process, failing to select proactive individuals.

In addition, a healthy employee fluctuation is important and should be supported. If only a few employees leave your company annually, you are certainly losing the good ones. Individuals who roll up the sleeves and appraise achievements are the first ones to search for new opportunities while you keep the lazy ones, all for yourself.

Forget the numbers for once, get out from behind your desk and take a look at your team; maybe it has already fallen asleep.

Your opinion matters! Which are your expectations about the turnover rate? Share your experience with us, leave a comment!

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Let the Lazy People Go!

  1. You are right! And in good company:
    “What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted, or moved out the door? Business is a game, and as with all games, the team that puts the best people on the field and gets them playing together wins. It’s that simple.”(Jack Welch)

  2. This really have very little to do with the people in the organization, but more to do with the culture, leadership and values that shape the culture. If you have a culture of mediocrity, then mediocre people stay, there rarely noticed because they don’t make waves.

    You have to be careful with data, yes 63% of employees are disengaged, but so what, companies are still getting good financial results. If your employees are passive and unambitious, guess whose fault that is, certainly not theirs.

    If only a few employees leaving your company a year, certainly you are losing the good ones. Maybe you are and maybe you aren’t, who knows, it depends on the employee and reasons.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, does anybody really care, that’s the more pressing issue. The HR industry has been talking about turnover for the last 30 years and longer, are we getting better at it, not really, one has to ask why, this is the pressing issue. How many times have you walked an executive group through the cost of turnover exercise, how significant were the costs, yet, very little done to address the issue.
    We have to stop talking about what we are supposed to be doing and focus on why we aren’t doing it. HR is starting to sound like Chicken Little, the sky isn’t falling, but it could be sunnier.

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