People may leave your company for many reasons, some good, some not so good. A healthy culture will eliminate the not-so-good reasons for losing employees. Help your team members to see your company as a source of meaningful, fulfilling work in a nurturing environment, and not “just a job.”

Good Reasons

New employee shaking hands with employer

There are many perfectly valid reasons why people leave, including family pressures, an opportunity to learn/grow beyond what you can offer, or starting a new business.

In our case, we’ve had a couple of examples of family pressure in the form of older parents in need of care. The parents lived far enough that the employee could no longer work at one of our offices. In some cases, when it is a temporary situation, we have been able to accommodate them, but in open-ended cases, they’ve had to leave.

The other family situation that has cost us is of a spouse taking a job out of town, including one who ended up moving to Denmark. That would have been a really long commute.

We have lost a few Nearsoftians to US companies like Amazon, and Microsoft. The motivation to leave was primarily to experience life in the US. These and the cases where people move out of town to pursue higher studies are, in our eyes, good reasons for leaving and there’s nothing we can or would want to do to prevent it.

If anything, we wear it as a badge of honor, a validation of the quality of the people at Nearsoft that prompted these “big boys” to reach South for badass talent.

We have lost a few employees who have gone off to start their own business. In all cases, we’ve encouraged the move and even invested in their new ventures. So, to us, this is not a loss at all, but a big win (i.e., our company “Cause” is to promote Technology Entrepreneurship everywhere we go).

This still leaves a lot of bad reasons why you can lose employees.

Not-so-good Reasons

team member leaving unhappy (fuming, really)

And many others.

All of these have two things in common,

  • They are under your control
  • They are different aspects of your culture that you need to eliminate

If You Are the Boss, Don’t Be a Jerk.

If people are disrespectful to each other, you need to change your behavior. Otherwise, people will behave similarly and subject others to it. If it’s not you, then don’t put up with it or it will create to a stressful, toxic environment. People are happiest and most productive when they feel safe and appreciated.

If your team is not doing it already, setup a system where people can recognize each other for living your company values.

Create a clear governance framework so people are clear how decisions are made, what the values of the company are, the important principles to uphold, a clear mid-term mission.

And, most importantly, be ready to answer why your company is in business (hint: “to make money” is the wrong answer). People yearn to do meaningful work and if your company can provide that inspiration, it will hard for another company to attract your best and brightest.

It Starts During Recruiting

Turnover reduction starts during the recruiting stage. Hire people who enjoy your company culture and can be successful in it. Make sure they believe in your cause and find it meaningful. Otherwise, pass, no matter how “brilliant” the candidate.

This will work if your workplace culture is generally healthy and includes an element of self-improvement and course correction. If on the other hand your culture is totally toxic and completely stagnant, then turnover is the least of your problems.

You Can Measure It

In our own case, things are not perfect, but we have a pretty healthy culture.
We know because we measure it every year with tools like the Great Place to Work Institute (i.e., TOP 25 GPTW company in Mexico since continuously since 2008) and WorldBlu (i.e., included their list of Most Democratic Workplaces continuously since 2009). These help us focus on areas we need to improve.

Eliminate Turnover

Eliminating the bad reasons for losing employes is pretty simple then,

  • Make sure your team finds what you do meaningful and inspirational.
  • Be fanatical about only hiring people who mesh well your company values.
  • Extra bonus: Be wildly successful!

(I said it was simple, not easy :)