XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

Site Search

Slowing the “Roll” of Turnover

Turnover & Retention Series: Part 1

It is challenging to look at normal measurements of business success and make much sense of them considering the last 15 months. But one number is especially curious right now: turnover.

As the market picks up and the Great Rehire continues, most would think the normal progression would be for those out of work to settle into the new job openings. However, the passive candidate isn’t so passive right now and everyone seems more in play than ever before. Turnover is rolling.

A Turnover Tidal Wave

I have talked for months about the changing mentality of the workforce and the higher standards employees are setting including expectations for companies to meet their individual needs. As people have had time to have “deep thoughts” about their lives, they are rethinking their careers. For many, this involves a fresh start at a fresh company with a different set of expectations and a culture which might reflect their newly defined ideas of future work.

In a recent Forbes article, business strategist contributor, William Vanderbloemen discusses this massive turnover, in what he’s coining “The Great Covid Job Churn.”  Because people have been holed-up and afraid for the past year, 2021 will continue to see the effects of last year’s pent-up energy on the jobs industry. “I believe this massive job turnover trend could result in as much as a 20% change in our national workforce at the executive level,” predicted Vanderbloemen.

Danny Nelms, president of The Work Institute, echo’s this sentiment and believes increased job openings in 2021 “will lead to the same supply and demand issues we had before the pandemic, putting an emphasis on recruiting and fueling voluntary turnover.”

Connecting & Aligning with Employees

If employees are in assessment mode and evaluating their own current state, it is a good idea for companies to also assess the situation and find opportunities to match the needs of their best employees.

The solution lies in connection and alignment. Connection is what drives engagement. For an employee to do their best work, they must feel connected to the work in some way. I’ve found that there are four main connection points for employees:

  • The company / mission
  • Their job / the work they do
  • Their boss
  • Their team

Generally, employees will connect to one of the above; sometimes, they’ll feel a connection to two. But almost never to all of the above at the same time. And that’s okay; a manager’s job is to figure out where the connection is and meet the worker there. The more solid that connection becomes, the more likely it is that the connection can overcome some of the other opportunities a new job may present.

Reassess & Realign

Use this time to determine your connection points so that employees feel engaged and are less of a turnover risk.

Evaluate Connections to Company, Job, Boss & Team
Evaluate your employees’ most important connections and determine where you believe each employee is most connected: Company, Job, Boss or Team.  If an employee connects with the company or the work, it’s almost always about how unique their situation is. Is this role something I can’t find anywhere else? Could I find a role that’s this important, or offers this much potential? Could I get this exposure or this kind of challenging assignment somewhere else?

If it’s a connection with the manager, they’re asking: Do I have a unique relationship with my boss that I’ve never had and doubt I can get anywhere else? She treats me with respect, we like each other, we work together so well  – how likely am I to find this again?

If it’s a connection to the team: Have I worked hard to build a team that is now functioning so well that would be crazy to leave now? I appreciate their effort and they see my value – do I really want to start over with a new set of people?

Once you’ve done your evaluation, keep the recording simple: a scale of 1(low) to 3 (high.) It’s possible you may have a zero score in a category – generally, that’s a sign of trouble for an employee. The more connections, the better. If you do not have at least one connection point, those are your most at-risk turnover possibilities. Set up individual meetings to review those connection points and validate your evaluation.

Bring in an Outside Professional to Conduct Stay Interviews
I always advocate for regular stay interviews where the point of the process is to listen, really listen, to the employee and their perceptions of the job.  Exit interviews are great if you are able to get true feedback from an employee about the work experience (as long as it is not clouded with bitterness). However, Stay Interviews are often overlooked but may be even more valuable because it allows organizations to make adjustments before the exit, thus keeping the best talent.

The challenge is to get open and insightful information. This is where a third-party can be valuable to ask questions where the employee can feel more comfortable in giving responses that will not hurt the feelings of a manager or if trust is an issue.

Review Individual Career Goals
This is the time to review career goals with each and every employee. In this dynamic, emotional, life altering time, it is important to have these meetings every three months. Make sure you know the personal goals for each employee. Consider those goals in relationship to their connection points and help align support that builds on the strongest connection.

Good News for the Staffing Industry

The silver lining in the turnover battle is that at the same time it creates challenges for its internal employees, it creates revenue opportunities for the industry itself. If all goes as predicted, the staffing industry will see an enormous rise in popularity and usage this year and a quick recovery from the consequences of Covid-19. In fact, the BLS released a report stating that staffing jobs are among the top five job-growth sectors through 2026 and anticipating service-providing sector jobs will top 135.8 million by 2026 and almost a third of these jobs (22,295.3) will be within professional and business services such as staffing agencies.


Rich Thompson is CEO of XPG Recruit and an expert on talent, leadership and staffing.  Check back  for Part 2 in our Turnover & Retention Series. And find out more about retention trends and strategies from our sister company, Xtra Point Group.