Interpersonal Edge: Employees keep leaving? How to manage
Sunday, February 5, 2017

By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Content Agency
Q. I manage a large team, and every year we seem to have faster turnover on our employees. We've done team building, additional rewards and retention bonuses, but it doesn't seem to slow down employees leaving. The odd thing is our team is ranked as one of the best to work on. What is going on, and how can I manage the problem of employees that barely last a year?
  A. You can manage your turnover problem by realizing the new norm for longevity in a job in corporate America is two years. If you keep an employee longer than that, you are truly lucky.
  The parents of the baby boomers had the idea that they would take a job for life and retire with a gold watch, but those days are long, long gone! The only way most employees can significantly increase their salary and title is to jump from company to company. Often, once an employee is hired, his or her income and opportunity change very slowly.
  If you have already built in incentives for longevity and made your team the place people want to work, then it will be up to you to change your expectations of your team. If we have tried everything to get what we want externally but it still isn't working, then we have to change ourselves internally.
  Changing yourself means re-evaluating how much you invest in your employees. Obviously, going out of your way to mentor or counting on any one employee would not be wise. Your time and planning needs to revolve around the expectation that each position on your team will be more like a revolving door than a permanent fixture.
  When your external reality turns out not to be what you had hoped, it is worth having a moment of silence for your former idea. People joke that getting old is not for sissies. The truth is that the older we get, the more we have to hold funerals for our former way of thinking - or we'll become bitter and ineffective.
  If you can look at each employee as a two-year investment, you'll act in line with the reality of how long your people will stay. You'll stop feeling betrayed, surprised or unappreciated.
  You'll also thrive if you start having conversations every three months with each employee about how you can help them with their future plans. When they discuss their future, if your team doesn't fit into their future picture, put an ad in your local help-wanted section immediately. 
  Obviously, if you have done bunches of stuff right in a past life, you may occasionally get a unicorn that loves you, loves the team and loves the job. When you get this rare employee, go out of your way to make them not change their mind. Give them the best opportunities, the best raises and become their mentor. 
  When you get an employee who is loyal, this individual may well go on to get your job and do it brilliantly, so you can get promoted without hurting your team performance.
  The United States is increasingly a mobile society where no one sits still for long. If you don't plan for increasing turnover, you'll just be fighting upstream against reality. If you make your team's achievement focused on the same work but not the same people, you'll be just fine.
  The last word(s)
  Q. I want to be realistic about my goal setting this year. Is there a tip that could help me be successful?
  A. Yes, aim big because all you have to lose is your pride if you miss, and what you gain will always improve your aim!
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed in the February 5, 2017 - February 18, 2017 edition.

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