We were recently pleased to have one of our articles appear in HR Magazine. Below is the full article on how to reduce turnover rates in high-stress environments.
Five Tips for Reducing Turnover in High-Stress Environments
When the pressure is on, employees often vote with their feet. Train your managers to motivate workers before they walk out the door.
By William Seidman, Ph. D
April 1, 2015
Stress isn’t unique to high-level executives. Everyone feels it at some point or another, particularly employees who work in fast-paced, customer-oriented environments such as call centers or fast-food chains. In fact, it’s often a key driver of turnover within high-pressure industries.
The cost of front-line turnover is significant. Hiring and re-training are expensive, as is dealing with the consequences of poor performance. Perhaps most important, customer satisfaction suffers when employees come and go before really getting the hang of the job.
Here are five tips on how to reduce turnover within your company:
- 1. Build a compelling purpose.
Meet with star performers in high-stress roles, the ones who perform well in pressured environments, and ask them what they find rewarding about their job. This is their “compelling purpose.” You will be pleasantly surprised at how these stars define their purpose with inspiring phrases, such as, “We are the last line of ensuring customer loyalty” and “We are the strategic link between our products and our customers.” Workers with a compelling purpose enjoy their work and stay in their jobs.
- 2. Redefine your culture from transactional to transformational.
As you define your purpose, rethink how you are managing your environment. Most organizations try to make their cultures more transactional by requiring rigid adherence to scripts and checklists. While the intention is good—to create consistency and prevent errors—this approach can convey to workers that they can’t be trusted to do their jobs correctly. A better approach is to set expectations high and focus on how to support people who are aligned with the compelling purpose. When you trust people to make good judgments, you will find that they do so, and turnover will decrease.
- 3. Train your line managers to be leaders of group learning.
Many line managers are barely surviving daily pressures themselves, so they pass their stress onto their teams. Given the minimal training and support most managers receive, it’s not surprising that they often become autocratic and fail to trust their workers. They need to be trained to view their role as leading a group of willing learners who will soon become great performers. This will lead to more supportive managers, lower turnover and better team performance on transactional measures
- 4. Practice working smarter (and reflect on it).
In hectic environments, little time is allocated for learning in general and to learning to work smarter in particular. Allocating even short amounts of time for conscious growth and reflection can lead to tremendous innovation and energy. At Cerabyte, we give people one or two 20-min. practical exercises a week—things they can try to become more efficient at doing their jobs. Then the managers hold a one-hour discussion about what everyone learned. This practice communicates to people that their growth is valued, and our employees consistently report that they function better as a team as a result
- 5. Align your business systems.
This is the really hard one because it is often not directly under the management team’s control. Get serious about process improvement changes. One of the reasons for high turnover is that personnel spend a lot of time combatting ineffective and disempowering business processes and support systems. Rigorously examine your business process infrastructure, ask for input from workers and drive the changes to make their jobs easier.