Is Your Workplace Suffering from Turnover Contagion?

When an employee leaves their job, they often bring their coworkers with them to a new company, or at least cause their coworkers to reconsider their jobs.

This phenomenon is known as turnover contagion, and it has serious negative effects on both your company’s bottom line and its culture. In order to keep this kind of turnover from happening in your workplace, it’s important to take steps to manage your employees’ individual needs and encourage them to stay with the company, even if their friends have left.

Below, we offer five tips for reducing turnover contagion in your workplace:

What is turnover contagion?‍

When one employee leaves, their direct reports, close colleagues, and friends often choose to leave too. This phenomenon is called turnover contagion, because the turnover of one employee “infects” their coworkers. It costs companies billions of dollars every year, causes project delays and failures,  decreases team morale, and leads to an increase in stress levels for remaining employees.

It’s imperative that you create a workplace culture that encourages your employees’ loyalty and commitment so they don’t have any reason to seek employment elsewhere. In order to do this, you need to make sure your employees are happy at work with a satisfying work-life balance. Remember: happy employees equal less turnover!

How prevalent is turnover contagion?

A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that when an employee leaves a company, their friends and colleagues are 45% more likely to leave as well. A recent LinkedIn survey found that 59% of employees admitted that a coworker leaving made them consider leaving too. And it’s not just voluntary turnover that’s contagious – layoffs can also trigger a domino effect of employees leaving.

When a company goes through layoffs, typically they’ve carefully chosen the employees whose departure has the least amount of impact on the company.

However, layoffs tend to unsettle the remaining employees, making them more likely to consider new job opportunities when other companies’ recruiters (including competitor companies) reach out.

What are the costs of turnover contagion?

Turnover contagion represents a significant expense for companies, despite the fact that most turnover contagion is preventable. When employees see their friends and colleagues leaving, they may start to question their own commitment to the company. This can lead to a loss of productivity and an increase in absences as employees start looking for other jobs.

In addition, when multiple employees leave at the same time, it can be difficult to find replacements who are qualified and willing to stay with the company for the long term. Which brings even more disruptions in the workplace and a further decline in morale. Project deadlines are missed, and often projects fail altogether.

5 ways to prevent turnover contagion‍

Focus on Communication

Like in most situations, communication is key. For example, if the company went through layoffs, maintaining clear lines of communication are critical. Make sure employees know the company strategy, and that they are still needed and highly valued.

Ensure Employees Feel Valued

The best way to prevent turnover contagion is to have a strong company culture. When employees feel like they belong to a community and are valued, they’re less likely to want to leave. Additionally, management should be attentive to any early warning signs that an employee may be considering quitting. Performica’s HERO retention program proactively identifies at-risk employees, notifies their managers, and guides them through simple steps to ensure they feel listened to and valued.

Provide Development Opportunities

Sometimes, this is skill-building courses, or helping an employee get a certification. Other times, it’s helping employees identify projects they can work on that excite them. Sandbox can help companies match employees with projects they love. Many employees also appreciate the opportunity to attend (or even speak at) a relevant conference.

Identify Career Paths

When employees have a clear career path with regular promotions, they’re much more likely to stay as they move up the ladder. Having a clear career progression path for both individual contributors and managers can reduce the chances of employee turnover and turnover contagion.

Offer Mentors and Crossfunctional Groups

Since turnover contagion stems from the departure of a friend or close colleague, providing ways for employees to replace those relationships can also prevent additional turnover. Performica’s HERO retention program offers talking points for managers to identify how to meet an employee’s work relationship needs.

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