HR Insights
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July 20, 2023

Regrettable loss: Drive productivity by reducing voluntary turnover among your top performers

If you're looking to address retention rates, try these three strategies to reduce voluntary turnover in your organization. Improvements in job mobility and pay experiences make a real difference for employees.

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According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2022, a record 50.2 million workers quit their jobs in the United States, representing 70 percent of all separations. While retention is always a concern for HR leaders due to the cost of replacing staff and impact on business continuity, record turnover rates make it an even bigger priority. That’s particularly true for retaining top performers who typically contribute far more to an organization’s overall success than the average employee.

Research from McKinsey & Company, for example, not only shows a dramatic productivity gap between average and high-performing talent.  The study also shows that the gap grows exponentially as the work becomes more complex. The data shows that while a high performer might be 50% more productive than the average employee at low-complexity tasks, he or she can be up to 800% more productive at tasks with very high complexity.

In a world where complex challenges make efficiency and productivity more critical than ever, HR and people managers should focus their efforts on reducing voluntary turnover among their top performers. Below we consider strategies for reducing voluntary turnover that many organizations either aren’t doing yet or aren’t doing particularly well. When properly executed, they can go a long way toward staving off the regrettable loss of top talent.

1. Create opportunities for internal mobility

It’s no secret that one of the keys to retaining talent is providing opportunities for internal mobility. What’s perhaps less widely appreciated is the fact that many people would rather move across than up. According to our 2023 Pulse of Talent Survey of 8,800 global workers, only 14% said they aspire to be people leaders, while just 17% hope to move into senior leadership roles.

It’s important to give employees the opportunity to make lateral moves within an organization rather than limiting their growth to climbing a set career ladder. That could mean offering a finance professional with strong project management skills a role in HR, or giving a marketing professional with a firm grasp on data analytics a role in product development. The key is to think outside of the box about how to leverage employees’ core skills and interests to help them find their next career move within the organization.

Doing so can have a material impact on reducing voluntary turnover. Our 2023 Pulse of Talent Survey found that 45% of workers would be more loyal to their current employer if they had access to internal mobility opportunities. Of course, having a sound internal mobility strategy helps to not only retain top performers longer, but also fill critical skills gaps faster by identifying transferrable skills from versatile internal talent.

2. Develop job rotation programs

Another related strategy for reducing voluntary turnover is establishing a job rotation program. Given that nearly all (90%) 2023 Pulse of Talent Survey respondents say they feel stuck in their in their careers, and 35% want to change careers within their company, job rotations pose an opportunity to help employees meet their career goals.

Job rotation programs allow employees to rotate to a new team for a set period of time so that they can immerse themselves in the work that team does. It’s a great way for employees to explore new career paths, gain valuable skills and experiences, and achieve their career goals without having to leave the organization to do so. For employers, in addition to helping drive retention, it’s also a great way to build internal talent pools and shorten time to hire.

3. Offer on-demand pay

For some workers, money is a big worry and a constant source of stress. That’s particularly true in the current environment, where interest rates are on the rise. Underscoring the point, according to research from PwC, “one in three full-time employees say money worries have negatively impacted their productivity at work.”

Payroll has barely changed in decades at most organizations. However, in today’s increasingly instant and on-demand world, there’s a strong case to be made for introducing on-demand pay as a retention strategy. On-demand pay gives employees access to their wages as soon as they’ve earned them, which allows for more financial flexibility and ultimately less stress so that employees can focus on their work.

In an SSRS study of Dayforce Wallet users conducted on Ceridian’s behalf, 45% of users aged 18 to 29 said on-demand pay is one reason why they’re staying with their employer.1 Meanwhile 63% of respondents across all ages said access to on-demand pay has a positive impact on their view of their employers. In addition, just over half (56%) said they are more inclined to pick up extra shifts if they know they will have access to their wages at the end of the shift.

It's time to get smart about retention strategy

With turnover at record highs, HR leaders need to find ways to minimize voluntary turnover, particularly among their top talent. Doing so often includes giving employees a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment through internal mobility opportunities and job rotation programs. In some cases, however, boosting retention levels can be as simple as modernizing the organization’s approach to payroll.

No matter the solution, voluntary turnover is an issue that organizations need to address to ensure that they’re not losing some of their best workers unnecessarily.


[1] Data from 2023 SSRS study of Dayforce Wallet users.

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