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As the economy improves, will your employees jump ship?

A recent report by national recruiting firm, FPC, found that 79% of all employees plan to begin the job hunt in the next 12 months. Some companies are already feeling this pain, and it is costing them.

According to Jeff Kortes, president of Human Asset Management, turnover costs can extend from 30% for entry level employees to 150% for mid-level employees to 400% for high level employees. Needless to say, high turnover can crush a company's bottom line. For some local companies, this pain has left them searching for a solution.

Enter the Turnover Terminator.

Art Snarzyk, owner of the consulting firm InnerView Advisors, is working with companies throughout the region to build better hiring systems and culture to avoid turnover. The nickname, Turnover Terminator, was given to Snarzyk by a client after he helped reduce the client's turnover issues.

"Many businesses think hiring is just a crapshoot," Snarzyk says. "You put somebody in place and hope for the best. You hope they make it past the honeymoon period. But it doesn't have to be that way. Businesses don't need to fire people."

Snarzyk got involved in employee turnover after running his own painting contracting business, a company he grew from the ground up. He used a particular system of hiring to find the right painters, and he experienced little turnover. At the same time, he watched the revolving door outside his competitors' offices, with employees constantly leaving. He thought he might be on to something. As he started sharing more of his ideas and expertise on hiring, he decided to become a consultant and help other companies lower their turnover.

"When I was a painting contractor, I didn't hire painters," he says. "I hired people. I wanted to first know if they were a good fit, and if they could represent me well in an office or home. The best technician available may not be the best fit for your culture."

Snarzyk believes businesses can take steps now to avoid turnover and firing employees by creating a better culture and brining on the right employees. The following are seven ways businesses can stop turnover:


Start With Hiring

According to Snarzyk, lowering turnover really starts with better hiring. "Hiring is like fishing," he says. "If you want to catch catfish, there is certain bait you must throw out that sharks or bass don't like. So, you need to bait your hook properly."

When it comes to hiring, baiting your hook means letting applicants know about the job opening - and not just the description and duties.

"What type of person is going to do a really great job?" he says. "When you know that, you'll be ready to find the right person. Tell people about your culture, your environment and your plans for the future. You need the right fit, not just someone with four to six years of experience. The more you communicate the culture and environment, the more bad fits will deselect themselves."


Use Behavioral Assessments

These assessments are plentiful, including Kolbe, Disc, Myers Briggs, etc., and their purpose is to give owners another view of a candidate. Companies that use these assessments tools the best, use them to benchmark their top employees. "When you have an A-player, you use the assessment on them and find out what characteristics make them so valuable," he says. "Then, when you are hiring and the applicant takes the same assessment, you can see how they rank with your top employee."


Make Onboarding A Priority

Setting up an environment that helps new employees fit in and feel comfortable early on is essential, according to Snarzyk.

"When they come on they should be acclimated to the business and the culture of who you are. If you want the people to gel, this needs to happen.

"You're not plugging in a lamp; you are plugging in a human, and one that may change the dynamics of your business."

Snarzyk advises business owners to have the new employee's computer ready, email set up, phone extension ready and business cards prepared on that first day. "You want them to feel a part of the company that first day."

One suggestion for owners is to check in at the end of each day with new hires. "Ask: how did things go? What can we do differently, areas of help?"


Fire Quickly

Yes, even the Turnover Terminator favors turnover from time to time. "Even though we don't want turnover, sometimes we need to let employees go," he says. "So do it."

Firing poor performers sends a message to the A-players in your organization that you are serious about building a winning company. "The other employees will see you really care about your business and you are not going to handle those problems," he says. "Get rid of the people who do not fit and start looking for the A-players."


Make People Feel Like They Belong

"Many companies have fostered cultures of exile," says Christine Comaford, author of the New York Times best seller, SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together. "No one is purposely making people feel they don't belong, but they're also not proactively making them feel they do – and that's a huge, huge mistake."

Belonging, along with safety and mattering, is a basic human drive. After food-water-shelter needs have been met, we must feel that we're safe, that we matter, and that we belong. If not, we can't seek self-actualization, or as Comaford calls it "being in our Smart State," meaning we can't perform, innovate, collaborate or do any of the other things it takes to survive in our global economy.

When employees feel this way, they hide out, procrastinate, or say what the boss wants to hear instead of what she needs to hear. Such behaviors are devastating for business. When they occur chronically, not only will your company be unable to move forward and grow, it may flounder and fail.

"People will never speak up and say they feel they don't belong," she says. "It's just too scary. It's up to you as the leader to diagnose the problem and take steps to fix it."


Re-Engage Employees

In this economy, you need employees who care about your business as much as you do. And that's what you get with engaged employees. "Engaged employees are energized," says Bill McBean, author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don't. They handle problems on their own and actively look for ways to improve the business.

"So how do you get engaged employees? Show them you care. Sometimes it's as simple as saying ‘thank you' for a job well done either verbally, with a handwritten note or with a handshake with $20 attached. Or you might allow them to take a paid afternoon off and give them movie passes. One thing that worked well for me in my businesses is supporting the activities my employees' kids were involved in. Also, make sure your employees have what they need to stay engaged. For example, eliminate the frustrations in their job, make sure they have the latest safety equipment and train employees to know how to handle emergencies or workplace accidents. It's these simple things that all add up to developing an engaged staff who want to work for you and are proud to do so."


Establish a Bench

When he ran his painting business, Snarzyk said he was always prospecting for employees. "I was trying to attract employees as aggressively as the new customers," he says. "They were both just as important. We think all we need is more customers, but I was looking just as hard for top employees, the replacements, so I could have some A-players ready to go whenever I needed them. It was a big part of the success of the painting company."

Snarzyk believes it's time owners take control of their culture. "An employee gives notice and we all get that feeling in the pit of our stomach. We've all been there. Even if we didn't like the employee, we now have a hole to fill and we have to post the job, interview candidates, and then try and predict who the best fit is.

"Now is the time to start building the culture so you don't have to worry about turnover."