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How to Improve Employee Retention for a High-Turnover Position

How to Improve Employee Retention for a High-Turnover Position

There’s nothing more satisfying than filling an empty role at your company. For starters, it means the rest of your team won’t be stretched thin — improving morale. A new employee also means new energy and ideas — invigorating the team.

Hiring creates possibility. But when you have to constantly refill the same role, it can be a nightmare.

Every organization wants to avoid high turnover. But when it’s confined to a particular role, it’s especially frustrating. Hiring professionals must determine what’s wrong with their position or process to find a candidate who will stick around for the long run.

The issue isn’t always obvious, so we asked several hiring experts to explain what changes to make when employee retention is difficult for a specific job. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Conduct exit interviews and actually use the data.

Ketan KapoorWe have exit interviews with all the people who left the job regularly to understand and delve deeper into the problems and pain points. The exit interviews help us understand why they are not sticking around with the role and what, in their opinion, could improve the role and the job description.      

The insights we gain from exit interviews have been hugely leveraged to improve our employee retention rate for the same role. We make it a point to include everything the job entails in the job description. This includes the volatility, non-specifics of roles, and responsibilities. That has increased our employee retention rate by a huge margin.

During the complete interview process, we make sure the individual understands the kind of role we are hiring for and ask them ‘are you still interested?’”

Ketan Kapoor, CEO and Co-Founder of Mettl

2. Be transparent at every level.

Alisha Santoorjian Thunstrom“You can’t solve a problem until you know why it’s happening. The first step is to scrutinize your recruiting, hiring process, training, and retention strategy. Next, you must communicate your needs to your recruiters frequently. As a manager, I need to give our recruiters as much feedback as possible so they can make any necessary adjustments.

It’s also crucial to be transparent about what the job entails. During the interview, we give the candidate a synopsis of a typical day. We don’t dress up the job as something it’s not. For a support position, we don’t hide the fact they will be on the phone with customers and that it can get very busy at times. However, we also make sure to share the positives of the job and the things that keep us coming back to work every day.”

Alisha Santoorjian Thunstrom, Director of Support Services at TempWorks

3. Understand the needs of candidates.

Nate Masterson“We experienced a different issue than usual when we had a high turnover rate for employees in our customer service department. Most of these staff members were also students and as their schedules changed each semester, there was difficulty coordinating the timing of work.

We didn’t want to keep losing employees we trained, so we allowed them to commit to fewer hours a week while working from home. Even if it meant that we needed to hire one or two more people to get everything done, it at least meant having a consistent team.”

Nate Masterson, HR manager at Maple Holistics

4. Redefine cultural fit.

Colleen Pfaller“As a hiring professional, it is your job to look beyond the role description. You must look deeper than qualifications and design a process that also screens for cultural fit.  

For example, I had a nonprofit client who was constantly recruiting for employees to provide round-the-clock care to their clients. We weren’t sure why people were leaving their organization, so we conducted a focus group with top performers and asked lots of questions about the work environment and what they enjoyed.

With this knowledge, we were able to redesign their recruiting process to focus less on skill and more on organizational fit. We looked for clues in open-ended questions like ‘Why are you applying for this job?’ and ‘What do you know about our mission?’ This contributed to a reduction of turnover by 23 percent.”

Colleen Pfaller, Founder of A Slice of HR

5. Face your own reputation.

John Light“A client reached out to me with a need in their external reporting team. This was an experienced professional role with specific responsibilities in external financial reporting for a large, international, publicly-traded company. The role was open for 355 days….this time.

Previously, the position came open about every 12 months or so due to high turnover. In the 355 days it was open, the company had reviewed over 150 candidates and the team had interviewed over 50 of those in person. Two offers had been rejected.

There had been so much turnover on the team word got around in the market, especially within the network of likely candidates.

When we were asked to help, we worked on changing the equation a bit. First, we candidly informed the HR and hiring teams of their market reputation. Then, we recommended something a bit different. Instead of running job ads (essentially telling the market that it was open again), we focused on sourcing good candidates. Also, we regained control over the narrative on why the role was open, describing the good, the bad, and the ugly before the rumor mill did.”

John Light, Partner at EvolvingTalentGroup

6. Rethink the role’s value.

Chris Chancey

“Is this a job that still needs doing? Employees want to feel challenged and necessary. Perhaps the job was once integral to the overall operation of the business, but because of technological advancements, it is now a shell of its former self. Maybe an analysis of tasks and outcomes is in order.”

Chris Chancey, Founder of Amplio Recruiting


Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.