Staff Turnover: 4 Tips to Ready You for a NEW Reality of the 2014 Workplace

Chance are your office will have something in common with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s office.

New faces.

Staff turnover is a rising reality of the 2014 workplace.

It appears that people with jobs are getting more comfortable with taking control of their careers.

CareerBuilder, which conducts an annual employment survey, this month announced a four percent increase in responses by full-time workers who plan to change jobs in 2014—up to 21%.  More than 3,000 U.S. workers were surveyed. 

That same dynamic appeared in a recent poll by my firm. Of the 50 respondents (all participants of the  Dulye Leadership Experience that I established seven years ago at my alma mater, Syracuse University, 30% indicated that they plan to change positions and companies.


In several cases, the new horizon wasn’t a competitor or another firm—but a start-up company that, up to now, was a back-burner dream.  Incidentally, you, too, can take the poll. Click here and weigh in on your 2014 career plans.

There’s high probability some folks on your team are looking to trade places.

How ready are you to address or possibly avert the challenge of staff turnover? These four tips will help you lead and learn:

  • Assess your talent. Who are your A players—your best performers? Who’s not pulling their weight? Like a basketball coach, you should have a formal roster of team members’ standings. Create three levels of performance: your stars (A players with great attitude, skills and actions that deliver great results on a consistent basis), your subs (B players whose skills need more honing but can be counted on for contributing to team success), and your sinkers (C players who bring little to the game and splinter the team).  Establish a formal process with standard metrics for evaluating every team member at least annually—although semi-annual or quarter reviews are practices used by my former employer, GE, and other admired companies. Involve your management team and set time for open, candid discussions about employees’ results and relationships with coworkers, customers and suppliers. Don’t make this a secretive or siloed practice. In fact, make it a team activity for your top manages.  You’ll likely learn new things about workers’ skills and strengths that can lead to future “stretch” assignments or rotational positions in a new work group. Your department leaders should know the A players across the board, not just in their work area. After all, they collectively contribute to the company’s success.
  • Let A players know they matter. Feeling undervalued or ignored will drive employees to look elsewhere for a job. Make sure that your top talent knows that they deliver value to your company and are appreciated. You don’t have to give lavish gifts or big cash awards to convey appreciation.  Genuine gestures with no or low cost can send powerful messages. For example, schedule time on a regular basis to talk about the business and seek the input of an A player. Share a book or article that you’ve enjoyed and learned from. Invite that motivated employee to join you at a customer or other business meeting. These deliberate acts of appreciation should be conducted by everyone on your management team. Think and act like one unified group when it comes to managing and developing talent.
  • Develop your bench. Don’t ignore your B players. Starting line-ups on every team experience shifts. In sports, unexpected injuries can take out a top talent for an entire season and have serious consequences on the overall team’s performance.  The unexpected departure of an A player can create similar consequences.  Add a new assignment to a B player’s responsibilities—one that will stretch them to expand their skills, knowledge and network. Provide ongoing feedback and coaching from a direct manager or co-worker who has earned A player status. Continuous learning opportunities will cultivate growth and signal appreciation to that often neglected second tier of employees.
  • Open communication lines. Communication breakdowns drive employees to look elsewhere. They disconnect from their boss, their team and their company.  Increase direct contact and communication with employees, especially A players whom you want to retain and B players whom you need to develop. Reserve 30 minutes daily for informal conversations with individuals and small groups—whether by phone or face-to-face. During casual chats, double your listening time by asking more questions and avoiding interruptions. Learn from others’ perspectives and ideas. In turn, both you and your company will get better.

What’s your 2014 career game plan? Take my poll