Knowing why people are leaving, using reliable and objective data, is key to building a retention strategy. If you want to stop people leaving, finding out why and when others have left is a fundamental part of that process.

If there is one figure you should know when it comes to managing people, it’s your labour turnover percentage. That is, the number of leavers as a percentage of your workforce. This number can vary greatly, partly due to industry sector (the hospitality and retail sectors have notoriously high levels of turnover) but it can also be a sign of successful or not so successful recruitment and engagement strategies.

What’s important when discussing labour turnover is not the actual percentage figure itself, but being aware of the number and how you got to that figure. Try to banish the idea that high turnover = bad and low turnover = good. Having a particularly high turnover level is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as you are aware of it and understand why it is at that level (and have adequate resources to keep replacing staff!). Equally, a very low turnover figure does not necessarily indicate a model workplace. Far from it, it could actually indicate management neglect and a stale, demotivated workforce.

What’s the point?

Well, it’s clear that knowledge is power in this situation. If you know your average length of service before someone ups and leaves is 14 months, how much do you really want to invest in recruiting them? Would that money perhaps be better spent reassessing your recruitment methods or working on your retention strategy?

Knowing why people are leaving, using reliable and objective data, is key to building a retention strategy. If you want to stop people leaving, finding out why and when others have left is a fundamental part of that process. It’s like history; sometimes we need to look backwards in order to move forwards.

Labour turnover puts a tangible figure on an otherwise emotive topic. It can bring to light new findings, not all of them comfortable (poor management, lack of opportunity, even bullying or harassment) and not all of them bad; you need to know if 15% of your turnover is due to people relocating and actually nothing to do with your business at all. The crux of the matter is that labour turnover analysis creates cold hard figures. And figures, as we know, can be great motivators.

Being aware of your labour turnover level also allows you to benchmark your company against competitors: are you in line with industry levels? Are you perceived as an employer of choice? If your turnover levels are comparatively good, then you have something new to shout about! If not then you have something to work on and by something, we mean real data and analysis, not just a vague pointer in the direction of retention.

A common frustration with labour turnover analysis is that by the time you are analysing the data, it is too late to do anything to change things for those who have left the business. However, you have a company full of survivors who want to see that you are listening to the employee voice. Monitoring and actively following up on information from leaver questionnaires (for example a “you said, we did” presentation) can be very motivating for existing staff. Moreover, if you actually start changing things in line with what the people said, you are creating an inviting and collaborative culture which in itself further reduces the chances of people leaving. Plus you are saving hours and hours of line managers’ time spent interviewing, and bucket loads of money in recruitment costs.

Where do you start when analysing labour turnover?

The key first step is to make sure you have a good flow of information coming through to form the basis of your analysis. Using an expert product such as LastOpinion can provide vital insight into the reasons people are leaving your organisation by systematically collecting data from every leaver using an objective and reliable method. LastOpinion doesn’t guide employees to give a certain response, or influence them in any way, meaning that the feedback you receive is honest, unbiased and above all, useful.

This information can then be used to run reports via LastOpinion on a regular basis. It is through the process of regular reporting that patterns begin to form, peaks and troughs may be identified and you may notice cracks appearing. As well as identifying the reasons for leaving, you may also notice that you are losing people after a certain time frame, or at a certain level of the business. This data becomes invaluable in setting out a strategy to improve labour turnover levels either across the organisation or honing in on certain pockets of turnover. Labour turnover is now a measurable and valuable KPI in your organisation and that means that managers throughout the business can be targeted on making valuable and quantifiable contributions to improve it.

What measures should you use?

There are various standard measures that can be used (length of service at leave date, level of position, working pattern etc.) but if you are using LastOpinion, we can produce data personal to your needs. Want to know how many people leave at management grade? No problem. Want it by department or by line manager? We can do that for you. We can also tailor the questionnaires using your company language, style and branding so that it fits in with other internal communications.

Isn’t it really time consuming?

By using a product like LastOpinion, we are doing the lion’s share of the work for you in collating the raw data from each individual leaver and presenting you with usable management information.

How frequently you wish to present the data, and to whom is up to you. Many organisations present labour turnover analysis annually at company meetings along with other core results and KPIs. But you may well choose keep a close eye on it throughout the year with regular monthly reports and analysis at management level.

There are many reasons why labour turnover is important and how knowing about it and understanding it in the context of your business can help you achieve greater success. There is, however, only one starting point, and that’s getting the right information from your leavers. And that’s where using a tailor made product like LastOpinion really adds value.

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