By Jennifer E. Goldman, President
We’ve all heard the reasons that employee turnover can be undesirable; it may indicate poor leadership, noncompetitive wages, or bad working conditions. As a current business owner, former manager of a large staff and previous employee several times over, I have learned to appreciate the benefits of employee turnover.
That’s right, I said benefits.
When I was an employee, which I was from the age of 14, I was constantly looking around, trying to find a way to advance, learn more, and earn more. It wasn’t that I didn’t work for any great companies. I was simply motivated and ambitious. Companies that I worked for longer than others typically recognized that spark and rewarded it with additional training, advancement opportunities, and regular reviews with the possibility of pay increases. But ultimately I would move on.
As the manager of a staff of about 25, I quickly noticed that many of the employees who had been with that company the longest were the ones who least personified the image and direction I had been hired to accomplish. They were complacent, and generally lacked motivation and customer service skills. As I came on board and started to shake things up, no one remained indifferent. Several employees decided that if the job wasn’t so “cushy” anymore, they weren’t interested and they quit. This gave me the opportunity to hire new recruits and train them to be more active and engaging.
Several of the employees who remained did so because they were inspired; they welcomed a fresh perspective and change, they wanted to be part of something that was improving. They were rewarded with new responsibilities, which they relished.
The problem with no or low turnover is that it creates a sense of stagnancy and complacency. Have you ever heard people say that you should hire the person who wants your job? Those people are interested, motivated, engaging, determined to do better, to seek more. Of course, they need to be skilled, intelligent and willing to do the work, but I believe every business owner and manager should want their staff to be made up of employees eager to learn new things, advance, make changes and improvements, to someday be sitting in your chair.
In many cases, this will mean that you will lose great employees. They will find new and better opportunities elsewhere. The best thing you can do is give your employees opportunities to learn more, to earn more, to implement change, nurture them to grow. And sometimes to shake their hand and congratulate them when they leave you to seek a new direction. Those employees will either become one of the best assets your company has ever had, or a wonderful ally in your business community.
If they go, it also gives you the opportunity to promote the next best human asset your company has and to hire new employees with fresh perspectives. If you foster the type of business atmosphere where employees feel comfortable speaking freely, where they are encouraged to introduce creative ideas and solutions and where growth from failure is as common as rewards for success, then every new employee you bring on board has the potential to become a valued asset, even if only temporarily.
Encourage your employees to keep learning and growing, rejoice in their successes both inside and outside your company and welcome every new opportunity to hire a worthy and fresh set of eyes, ears and hands.