How to limit staff turnover whilst avoiding overloaded teams

Within the particularly trying climate of a health crisis, health & social and hospitality workers demonstrated a remarkable level of resilience and flexibility. While some were forced to double or even triple their workload (and therefore their working hours), others, on the contrary, were forced to limit their offer or stop and find different work altogether.

More than many others, these workers had to tackle the pandemic from the front line.

This resilience has given way to a certain discontent: absenteeism and staff exhaustion are on the rise, while mental health is declining as a result of incessant and unpredictable changes. That is without mentioning ever-higher staff turnover and difficulties in recruitment. Right now, in the middle of the summer season, the hospitality industry is facing unprecedented turnover, and seasonal workers are increasingly turning away from the industry, with the UK’s highest demand for hiring between June and August seen in the hotel and restaurant sector.

Lockdown led many along the path of some deep soul-searching (nearly 65% of US workers reported looking for new job opportunities during this period), but the increase in turnover also reveals difficulties in offering staff a pleasant and fulfilling work environment. Turnover levels are a real challenge for the health & social care and hospitality sectors. So, allow Brigad to share some tips to avoid staff overloading and high turnover.

Let’s first try to understand why high staff turnover can be a worrying indicator for the health of your business.

Why can high staff turnover damage your business?

Turnover rate allows you to measure the people entering and exiting your business over a set period. You can work out your turnover by doing the following calculation:

It is important to calculate your company’s turnover quarterly or annually, as this figure reflects the general outlook of your business’ health. Put into perspective with the events and difficulties that you face (such as the current crisis), this data allows you to evaluate if your workers feel like integral parts of their teams and your company. And, by extension, if they are committed to the company’s success and see themselves shaping its future!

Evaluating – and limiting – staff turnover in your company also helps you mitigate the negative impacts that it can have on your business.

Turnover that is too high and too fast will undoubtedly lead to:

  • A negative financial impact for your company. On average, when a member of staff leaves, it costs the business somewhere between 0.5 and 3 times that employee’s annual wage. Also, take into account the cost of a potential severance package, lost revenue due to an employee’s absence before their departure, any negative feelings a disgruntled employee can leave behind, as well as recruitment costs, and much more…
  • Negative consequences on the day-to-day organisation of your business. Resignations due to workers being unhappy are, by nature, tricky to anticipate. A high turnover will therefore have an impact on the day-to-day running of the business. It can also lead to a loss of skills, and therefore a drop in productivity or quality. In hospitality, front of house staff are also employed for their personality, so a dramatically high turnover can damage the image of the establishment and even lead to a loss of customers and guests.

8 tips for limiting turnover and absenteeism by avoiding overloading your teams

There are many causes of high turnover levels, including outside factors that you can’t control (such as in the current climate).

Nevertheless, a high level of turnover can be attributed to a stressful work environment, work overload, and a general difficulty in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A lack of future prospects in the company, or lack of feeling valued within the company, can also contribute.

You may not be able to control current conditions and restrictions, but you can improve your teams’ working environment, making it more stimulating and fulfilling.

Here are Brigad’s tips for reversing the trend and avoiding a high turnover.

1. Recognise signs of work overload and fatigue in your teams

To limit your employee turnover, you have to tackle the root of the problem. This means looking closely at your teams’ workload and considering how it can contribute to the risk of burnout among your staff. Our first piece of advice is to be as attentive as possible to the behaviour and well-being of your teams.

Certain changes can tip you off. Especially if a previously conscientious team member starts dropping the ball, cuts themselves off from others, becomes irritable or unpredictable. These can be small signals that, individually, don’t raise any flags. But an employee who starts skipping coffee breaks or who reacts badly to the slightest comment is perhaps showing signs of being stressed or overwhelmed.

If you’re not sure, try to communicate with them in a personal and caring way. Share your thoughts about the changes you have noticed, and recognise the difficulty that they may be facing at work. Even before thinking of potential solutions you could implement to relieve a high or stressful workload, the priority should be to show the employee that their difficulties are acknowledged and their grievances heard. Show that you will strive to address them to help the employee develop and grow within your company.

2. Assess workload in real terms and set realistic targets

Theoretic workload and actual workload are often worlds apart.

Whether it’s changes in how guests are welcomed, tensions in relationships with patients or customers, faulty equipment, absences or sudden departures… Your teams deal with changing and unpredictable situations all day every day, and this can complicate the simplest of their jobs, often without even realising.

To mitigate these situations, you should set up regular opportunities for communication with the whole team. These discussions will allow you to collectively assess employees’ workload realistically, and also alleviate the stresses associated with the obstacles they face every day.

Based on these sessions, you can set realistic and attainable goals and thereby reduce productivity-related pressure. When pressure to meet unattainable targets is too high, employees can be tempted to throw in the towel and find greener grass elsewhere.

Taking care of your staff’s health, by setting achievable objectives, will help you to avoid a high turnover.

3. Use non-permanent staff to relieve high workloads and limit turnover

As we know, the health & social care sector and the hospitality sector and disproportionately affected by high employee turnover. According to a study by UK Hospitality, even before the pandemic, the rate of turnover in the hospitality sector was twice as high as elsewhere. Of the many reasons for this, it is difficult to ignore the fast-paced and stressful nature of the job.

You may sometimes need to call for backup to give your teams some respite. Although many companies are already well-versed in this approach at seasonal peaks, such as in the summer and at Christmas, it can prove to be beneficial all year round. Especially in the current climate, which is particularly difficult for your employees.

Our aim at Brigad is therefore to help businesses in hospitality and health & social care to find backup.

We guide you in your search for qualified and motivated workers to support your teams and avoid staff burnouts. These careers are often underestimated or considered unskilled, which has a direct impact on turnover. So, we also work hard to put the spotlight back on the skills required and the value that the people in these jobs bring.

4. Follow up regularly on new arrivals

To reduce turnover and encourage loyalty among staff, you must also make sure they feel welcome and integrated into your teams. This is not only essential for training them at their job and ensuring they become as productive as possible, but also for encouraging them to imagine their future in your company, meaning they’re more likely to stay put!

Start by organising weekly or monthly meetings to follow-up on employees’ first weeks in the job. This is a perfect opportunity to find out where they need more support, or if there are new skills they would like to develop. You can also use this time to instil a culture of trust and fairness (especially when it comes to holiday requests or salary) within your team. It’s about giving new workers the feeling that you attach importance to their expectations. And that you value and champion their work and involvement in the company.

5. Learn to delegate to reduce staff turnover

To reduce pressure on your teams, it’s also important to give them the space to do their own thing and as much responsibility as possible. In short, forget micromanagement, which only stifles creativity, initiative, and trust. Learn to recognise team members’ expertise and delegate as many tasks as can be delegated.

Delegating to team members brings meaning to people’s jobs. It shows that you trust their abilities. They know you’re not going to constantly ask for updates, but they know they can call on you if they need to. Delegating reduces employees’ stress levels and allows them to aim for more strategic roles in your company. This, in turn, increases workers’ sense of attachment and loyalty to your company.

It is, however, important to avoid this independence becoming counterproductive or leading to an excessively high workload. Don’t forget to set clear and – of course – realistic objectives. Leave room for error, too, so that your employees feel comfortable enough to admit when they are having difficulties, before it becomes a problem.

6. Encourage collaborative working to avoid burnout

Encouraging well-being and balanced mental health at work is essential for avoiding high turnover. This can be achieved by making your teams feel that they are supported. That they can count on your help and help from other team members if needed.

When it comes to management, the best approach is to advocate for collaborative working as opposed to a competitive environment. Try organising fun and friendly events or parts of the day, with the aim to build team cohesion. You could also allow team members to organise their own work schedules if this is possible. Or implementing a ‘buddy’ scheme between permanent and non-permanent workers so that non-permanent workers feel better integrated.

7. Give your teams future prospects to encourage loyalty

Among the main reasons for high turnover is the lack of future prospects. If your staff struggle to see themselves in your business in the future, or if they don’t feel sufficiently valued and accompanied in their professional development, they can easily be tempted to look for alternative professional opportunities.

Of course, salary and perks are strong catalysts for staff loyalty and low turnover. But if your company is not able to offer the most competitive conditions in this area, simply sharing internal mobility potential and promotion perspectives can be just as powerful.

It will motivate workers to go above and beyond, and give them confidence in their skills. Moreover, it will encourage a sense of belonging to your company, and therefore a desire to stay and prosper.

8. Be as flexible as possible when it comes to hours

As previously mentioned, a healthy work environment is key for avoiding staff turnover. This is especially true when it comes to allowing employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Instead of setting up a pool table in the break room, it can be much more effective to offer staff flexible and adaptable shift patterns, if possible. Especially in the care and hospitality sectors, where heavy workloads are part and parcel of the job.

Since you can’t offer the perks of working from home, you have to be flexible in other areas, such as your employees’ work schedules. This can actually be very simple to implement in establishments with long opening hours. Hours can be adapted to different types of worker (freelancers, single parents, students…). And you will guarantee a decisive competitive advantage over businesses with a more fixed model.

The idea is to put in place a clear, transparent, and fair policy (especially when it comes to weekend and Sunday work), while maintaining rules to ensure the business’ day-to-day activities are well run.

A few last words..

Optimising recruitment processes and creating a healthy work environment, where targets are clearly defined and workloads fairly distributed, are the two main approaches to reducing your turnover and boosting workers’ productivity and well-being.

By implementing tangible management and organisational changes in your teams, and regularly measuring their effects, you will progressively find the most effective formula for your business and your team!

Brigad is here to help you strengthen your teams and meet their temporary or structural needs. For 3 years now, we have been putting you in contact with qualified freelancers for your projects. Access a community of qualified and passionate workers, and let us help you identify the best profiles for your business!

Whether you are a health & social care establishment, a restaurant, or a hotel, our solutions can help you take the weight off your teams and limit turnover!

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