Why staff members quit
When a staff member leaves, it's more than just an inconvenience. In fact, Well-Managed Practices estimate it costs them $22,360 on average when an employee leaves, says Cynthia Wutchiett, CPA.
WHEN A STAFF MEMBER LEAVES, it's more than just an inconvenience; it's money down the drain. In fact, Well-Managed Practices estimate it costs them $22,360 on average when an employee leaves, says Cynthia Wutchiett, CPA, Veterinary Economics Financial Editor and director of Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates in Columbus, Ohio. So it's worth finding out why team members take off.
"Employees join organizations, but they leave bosses," says Lynda Ford, a human resource and management expert and author of Transform Your Workplace, (McGraw-Hill, 2005). "Thousands of exit interviews bear this out. Common issues are 'my boss doesn't listen to me,' 'my boss doesn't value my opinion,' or 'my boss doesn't treat me fairly.'"
In the 2002 Well-Managed Practice Employee Management Guide, Wutchiett asked whether practitioners agreed that lack of appreciation from management is the top reason a qualified staff member leaves. An impressive 77 percent of respondents said yes—appreciation has a huge impact.
"Studies show the top reasons employees leave jobs involve lack of advancement opportunities, lack of recognition, and/or poor compensation," says David Sikora, the director of the Gevity Institute, a research lab run by the human resource outsourcing company by the same name. Now, notice where pay falls on that list.
But that's not what they say
Employees and employers are both guilty of believing, and using, the excuse of poor compensation as the top reason for turnover. "Managers often want to believe that money is the primary reason people leave," says Lorraine Monheiser List, CPA, MEd, owner of Summit Veterinary Advisors, LLC in Littleton, Colo. "That makes the problem seem less personal and more out of their control—which is comforting."
List says that employees fall back on the money excuse because they don't want to get into touchier issues that may have affected their decision more, like interpersonal conflicts, managers playing favorites with other team members, or a lack of trust in key personnel.
So what can your practice do to keep good staff members? "Wake up and smell the coffee!" says Ford. "Promote open communication and a workplace culture that values people's ideas and includes their input in major decision-making. Give your employees opportunities to take on new duties; allow them to stretch, even when promotions aren't available."
List agrees with that advice wholeheartedly. "Talented employees need to know they're valued members of the team and that you believe in them as individuals," she says. "So try some praise. Commenting that a team member handled a task or a difficult situation well buys a lot of loyalty, as long as you deliver the message with sincerity."
List also says that practices need to encourage and, if possible, provide outside training so staff members can take on new tasks; suggest new, more effective approaches to their current duties; and feel they're an important part of the practice. "Doctors and team members all want to understand how they fit into the overall practice philosophy and why their efforts help the practice get closer to the shared vision," she says.
Of course, you still need to offer fair compensation. But money alone won't keep a talented person onboard. "Good employees always have other job opportunities," says List. "They stay because of shared respect for their co-workers and a belief that they're making a difference every day they go to work."
If you lead, they will follow
Recognition, clear career paths, and regular feedback all stem from effective management. "And effective employee management drives better retention," says Sikora. "Our Cornell University–Gevity Institute small business study shows that employee retention increases up to 68 percent when employers tailor their employee selection practices to assess a candidate's fit with the company's culture, encourage employees' self-management and high involvement, and seek to build a family-like workplace."
Sikora says that companies with these higher retention levels also experience 22 percent better sales growth and 23 percent faster profit growth. So the evidence is clear: Effective employee management more than pays for itself through lower turnover and a better bottom line.