The Tricks and Treats of Staff Turnover


Happy Halloween!

Today is the day in America when we have come to expect more treats than tricks.  Tricks are fun sometimes, but treats are much more appreciated!

It is the same in business.  We’d much rather get treats than be tricked.  “Tricks” are the cause of employee turnover.   Staff turnover can be the worst, most expensive “trick” for any business.  Turnover realistically cannot be eliminated, but it can be reduced greatly when you provide staff with more “treats”

By treats, I don’t mean more money.  In a list below of 12 items that contribute to greater satisfaction on the job, adequate compensation is 10 on the list.  There are 9 other items that staff members view more valuable than pay. (Find the complete list at the end of this post) 

“The back office staff does not need training (staff meetings) because they just do what we tell them to do.  It is the front office team that can benefit from consistent conversations and idea sharing”.

The picture above depicts my reaction when I heard a doctor actually say the quote above.  (blood-curdling scream)

This was said by one of two partner doctors who I have discovered think very differently from each other, but who also think very differently than what experience has taught me will bring them the greatest success in business.

These business owners were inadvertantly playing “tricks” on their staff members by non-verbally making three statements:
1. “Your ideas are not necessary, and probably unrealistic”
2. “Your abilities are just not that important to your job”
3. “Your role in our business is to show up and shut up”

I also learned that salary increases were being made arbitrarily.  The senior partner (who handled payroll) would occasionally say to an employee “I’m giving you a raise”.  There was no further conversation.  No reason was given for the increase, and no explanation for the amount of the increase.  Because the senior partner had decided on a “cap” for salaries, this pay increase was very rare.

Besides the arbitrary pay increase, no employee had ever had a performance review at this practice.  There had been no protocol for either praising or disciplining employees.  There was no vision, no mission, no values to align with.

I could imagine a group of 6 people coming together, and an assignment being given “we’re going to build a house”.  Without any instruction, the work would begin.  How do you think the “house” would turn out? 

It had become very clear to me why the staff at this particular practice were not communicating well with each other, nor well with their patients.  I also understood why the competence level seemed so low–there was no set criteria for a level of competence.  Even if there had been, without feedback and performance review, how would you ever know if you were measuring up?

The unspoken rule in this workplace was, “Do your job, get paid, and don’t try to improve anything.”

If this practice would just incorporate 3 “treats” into the character of their employee communication standard, the practice would have greater productivity, increased teamwork, and greater profit.

1. Have a written personnel policy manual stating expectations, protocols and communication standards.
2. Develop a written job description for each team member–highlighting the strengths and abilities needed to perform up to the defined standard.
3. Provide opportunities for training and collaboration to enhance a sense of ownership.

These changes won’t happen overnight–especially when expectations are introduced.  There will be some resistance.  However, those who resist a better work environment, better communication, and accountability are probably not the employees who are loyal anyway.  These are the types of employees who play “tricks” on their employers.   Let them go!

If you are an employer, and identify any of these characteristics in yourself, think about your outcomes.  Are you making the profit you’d like to?  Are you happy with the performance of your employees?  Do you recognize that a change may be the difference between success and failure?

“Oh, Bee-have”! says Jackie the Bee.
When you “bee”have like a leader, you will have greater success in business!


Based on surveys by Bent Eriksen & Associates of hundreds of staff members, here is what employees indicate would contribute to their productivity and sense of satisfaction on the job (“treats”):

1.     Ethically sound business principles and quality services. 
2.     A consistent and fair management style where policies are friendly, frank, fair and firm, consistently applied and clearly explained in writing.
3.     A pleasant and harmonious work environment with minimum stress. 
4.     Adequate facility, instruments, tools, equipment and supplies. 
5.     Competent, supportive and compatible team members. 
6.     Assistance in learning: to become more skilled, develop communication skills, make decisions and take initiative. 
7.     Clearly defined job responsibilities and expectations. 
8.     Recognition as an individual and as a team member. 
9.     Knowledge that their efforts are being appreciated and that inadequate work performance will not be tolerated.
10.  Adequate compensation and benefits. 
11.  Evaluation and feedback by the employer.
12.  Worthwhile staff meetings.

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