Employee Turnover Is Stealing Your Revenue (and How to Fix It)

May 29, 2024 Jamie Notter

[This is a blog post version of an ebook that will be out soon.]

We all suffer from both the direct and indirect costs of employee turnover—Gallup estimates it costs U.S. businesses more than $1 trillion every year. Nonprofits and associations, of course, are not spared from this pain, as a 100-staff nonprofit with average turnover will take a hit of more than $1 million every year due to turnover (according to SHRM estimates). So reducing turnover can have a huge impact—saving nonprofits six figures or more annually, dramatically impacting their ability to deliver on their mission.

But turnover can be a tough nut to crack. Organizations have spent countless hours asking employees what they want, then trying really hard to deliver that, only to have a frustratingly large percentage of them leave anyway. Why? Because you’ll never create an exceptional workplace simply by reacting to what people want—you have to proactively create a workplace that is aligned with employee and organizational success. That’s at the heart of all exceptional workplaces, and that’s what top talent yearns for.

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The good news is, achieving that is easier than you think.

Start with the foundation: money, technology, and conflict. Pay your people competitively (see Green Gopher), provide them with technology that works (see Cimatri), and make sure conflict doesn’t fester and create a toxic environment (see my conflict online course). These are the basics; if you fail on these three, you’ll lose people, despite any other efforts you’re undertaking. If you haven’t done these things, start now!

Then make the move to “above average” by focusing on customization, strategy, and transparency. These areas of focus come out of our research—they had a stronger correlation to employee engagement that the other building blocks we measure, so they are the most likely to impact turnover. Practically speaking, this will involve things like wellness programs, flexible work schedules, better KPI dashboards, more inclusive planning processes, a more robust intranet, and more 1-1 time with senior executives (among other things).

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Finally, customize your culture to become a truly great place to work. Elite organizations are always intentional about the design and ongoing management of their culture. There is nothing is accidental about their cultures, and they manage them continuously. What’s interesting is that being elite does not require some kind of unattainable, special skill set or knowledge. A lot of it is merely putting one foot in front of the other and being disciplined in understanding what your culture really is, and managing the change that will bring it to the next level.

It’s your move. Your employee turnover only has three options: it gets better, it stays the same, or it gets worse. If you want the first option, check out our consulting options, because we are specialists; we can help.

Jamie Notter

Jamie is a co-founder and culture strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders create amazing workplace cultures that drive greater performance and impact. He brings thirty years of experience to his work designing and managing culture, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is the co-author of four popular business books, including the award-winning Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement, and his fall 2023 release, Culture Change Made Easy. He holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.