Here's How To Stop Unwanted Employee Turnover

You just got settled at work when your top performer walks in and hands you a resignation letter. Ugh, it’s not how you wanted to start your day. Not to mention, the thought of breaking the news to your boss makes your stomach turn. And you think, Why didn’t I see this coming?


Losing an employee can cost anywhere from 20 percent to over 200 percent of their annual salary. Turnover also is disruptive for the rest of the team. Managers spend a lot of time developing talent. When top performers decide to leave, that investment leaves with them, productivity takes a hit, and so does employee morale.

Know who’s a flight risk

Employee engagement is the simplest way to limit turnover, boost productivity, and support your strategy. Retention is a problem in today’s labor market, but engagement is the solution.

Teams that don’t engage in a dialogue with their employees will find that conversation taking place somewhere else and without your knowledge. If employers want to craft the type of culture that engages people and makes them want to stick around, they need to ask employees what’s on their minds — and then be prepared to listen. 

There are lots of ways to go about getting intentional about culture, but here are three proven steps we recommend:

  1. Know where your culture stands. Start by asking those who know your culture best: your employees. A research-based, third-party employee engagement survey is the best way to get the insight you need.
  2. Know what good looks like. If you want to understand your culture and learn the right way to improve it, you need to go beyond simple benchmarks. Comparative analytics provide you with valuable culture insights and actionable intelligence.
  3. Up your culture game. With comparative analytics in hand, you can pinpoint what’s causing your top performers to look for new opportunities and then plan improvements to minimize it. You can also see if the actions you’ve taken have had a positive impact.

For employers that are intentional about culture, employee engagement is the outcome. People are committed to the organization, they’re passionate about their work, and they’ll even recruit their friends for you.

Laura Brtinton is director of content marketing at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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