How to Engage Your Team During High Turnover

How to Engage Your Team During High Turnover
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High Team Turnover Is Costly and Preventable
There are many reasons for a high employee turnover. Wouldn’t it help to know how to engage your team during high turnover? We know from our Best Places to Work employee engagement data that five areas have the highest correlation to employee engagement and retention regardless of industry or geography:

It all comes down to employees:

Whether it’s due to leadership failings, a toxic work culture, or simply a more competitive job offer, team turnover is bad for business. It can harm profits, customers, and team morale.

Strategies for How to Stem the Tide of Attrition on Your Team
To better engage your team during high turnover, gather as a team and work to:

  1. Uncover the Root Cause and Act
    When people leave, especially top talent that fits, your first step should be to learn what is going on.  Use employee exit interviews to gather individual feedback and discern if the issues are piecemeal or systemic.  Then visibly act upon the employee feedback to stem the tide of employee attrition.

    When leaders act upon employee feedback, employees are twelve times more likely to be more engaged.
  2. Create Certainty Wherever You Can
    When people feel unsure about what is happening, their desire for clarity, transparency, and guidance to make sense of what is happening increases.

    As a team leader, it is your job to help people feel safe while sharing enough context to help them adjust and cope emotionally. That means giving people what they need, when they need it, as their needs evolve.   You will know you are on the right track when your team feels safe, cared for, and connected to a deeper sense of team and company purpose.

    To increase employee engagement, always choose candor over charisma during times of uncertainty.  Be honest about where things stand, and whenever possible, accentuate the positive to restore confidence and build team comradery.

    As soon as possible, create a clear vision and an immediate path for how things will improve.
  3. Adjust Assignments as Needed
    If people are leaving, something has to give to provide people with relief.  Co-create a smart plan to determine how work should get done going forward to reset team and stakeholder expectations.  Ruthlessly reprioritize and rationalize wherever possible. 

    Do not make the mistake of trying to conduct “business as usual.”  It is your job as a people leader to help rebalance the workload as fairly as you can. If there are capacity issues, solicit the help of the team to prioritize tasks and reassign roles. The more the team is involved in sorting out what can be realistically accomplished, the more they will be committed to working together to achieve common goals.

    As you assess capacity, you may have to adjust your expectations. Meet regularly and often to get feedback on what can and cannot be done. Be sure to listen well. If you create a safe setting for pushback, you will be informed of problems before they grow into employee burnout and more team attrition.
  4. Empower Team Members to Set their own Work Parameters
    Assuming that performance expectations are clear and agreed to, give your employees the power to make decisions about how, where, and when they work. For employees, flexibility matters — more than salary or benefits — to the level of employee engagement. Wherever you can judiciously provide autonomy for your workers, do so.
  5. Have Your Team’s Back
    The best leaders visibly protect their team from unrealistic expectations and a burdensome workload. Step in if needed to fend off demands that would keep your team from delivering on higher priority team goals.

    Not everything is of equal importance. Invest the time to create a clear line of sight between their work and the priorities of the business, the team, and their peers.  You will know you are on the right track when goals, roles, success metrics, team norms, and interdependencies are clear, meaningful, and doable.
  6. Build Team Spirit
    Acknowledge that this is a difficult time and that you’re here to support them and expect members to support each other. Get to know your team members on a personal basis so you can connect to them in a meaningful way beyond the professional setting.  And whenever possible, create team building opportunities for team members to share, collaborate, and support each other.

The Bottom Line
High turnover of top talent presents a challenge to the engagement and productivity of any team. But, handled with care, high team attrition can also be viewed as an opportunity to reinforce the team’s motivation to succeed.

To learn more about how to better engage your team during high turnover, download How to Build Higher Levels of Trust in Leaders

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