Turnover is a core metric for any running business. Employee turnover and absenteeism occur when employees leave the company. While some industries have inherently high turnover rates, increasing turnover should always be seen as a red flag. Employees leave a job when the workplace is not supportive, when managers and coworkers create a toxic environment, or when work schedules or inflexible and oppressive.
High turnover is not just a challenge. It's also quite costly. Each departing employee means the company must invest again in recruitment, hiring, and training - as well as the costs that come from being short-staffed while roles go unfilled. In order to reduce turnover, employers must understand how giving employees more control over their schedules can lead to greater satisfaction, retention, and company loyalty.
Understanding the Turnover Problem
The average annual employee turnover rate across most industries is 12-15%, created by a range that spans the tech industry at 13% to the hospitality industry at 73%. However, in 2021, the national average turnover rate spiked to 47% in what employers have coined "The Great Resignation."
Combining factors rooted in Pandemic-related changes led to many professionals walking away from jobs that were toxic, too demanding, or that were poorly handling the remote/hybrid transition. The wellness and work-life balance trend peaked and extended time with family while quarantined led to a resurgence of professionals valuing family time over long working hours. With distance came perspective and mental space, which helped many leave work environments that had become toxic over time. Altogether, oppressive work conditions and poor employee experience that had once been tolerated lost their hold over a workforce that had gained a new ability to prioritise "good fit" in the jobs they sought and kept.
Common reasons for high turnover include poor compensation and lack of competitive pay, poor management, unsupportive human resources, poor benefits, long hours, and other factors that have a negative impact on employee experience.
Businesses that fail to adapt to the needs of their employees face an increased risk of high employee turnover, which can cause a growing stack of expensive problems called turnover costs. High employee turnover means constantly re-investing in the hiring process; recruiting efforts and training for new hires, and losing money again if those new hires are also given reasons to walk. Resignations and absenteeism cause disruptions and short-staff issues that only increase pressure on the remaining workforce. Combined with inflexible policies, this can lead to massive walk-offs - a growing trend among younger workers who support each other in leaving toxic work environments.
The Role of Employee Scheduling in Employee Retention
What many employers don't realise is that just a few small changes may be all that is necessary to stop trend of high turnover rates. Many companies are traditionally rigid when it comes to schedules and work time expectations, leading to dissatisfaction among employees and no path to a remedy. Parents may prioritise being able to take their children to school or pick them up over keeping a strict 8-6 workday. People with medical concerns may need flexibility scheduling to work around doctors appointments or poor health days. In fact, even night owls are now able to seek out jobs with scheduling flexibility so that their best wakeful hours can be spent on the clock instead of feeling half-alive every morning in the office.
Flexible scheduling allows employees to work the same number of hours each week, but to build those hours into a schedule that fits better into a complete human life. Family obligations, personal needs, and even best-hour preferences can be turned into dedication and productivity instead of a source of conflict. Employees are also more likely to remain loyal to companies with flexible scheduling policies because it means they can schedule vacations or handle emergencies without penalties for being "out of the chair" during standard workweek hours.
Case Studies of Successful Flexible Scheduling
Many companies have discovered that schedule flexibility leads to greater employee satisfaction, improved employee turnover rates, and advantages to the company that went above and beyond expectations.
"Work is what you do, and not a place you go" says Mohammed Chahdi, director of HR at Dell. When Dell implemented flexible work schedules and optional remote hours, nearly 60% of employees reported greater job satisfaction. At the same time, Dell was able to downsize office space with fewer people coming in ever day, saving the company $12 million annually.
Sodexo is a global food company that transitioned from request-only flexibility to a FLOW initiative that allowed more adaptive flexible scheduling. This allowed them to better accommodate regional standards, different national labour conventions, and individual needs across the board. Remote work and time became discretionary to each team, leading to greater productivity, as well.
Humana discovered flexibility when it updated its phone support software to a system that could be used remotely instead of on-site. This drastically expanded their potential hiring pool for top talent as well as allowing the call center team to enjoy the same remote perks as the rest of the company. Greater flexibility led to greater employee satisfaction, allowing them to retain talent and complete the hybrid company culture.
How to Implement Flexible Scheduling in Your Organisation
Implementing a flexible scheduling system for your organisation requires a shift in how you measure work and manage roles. This may represent a change in your company culture and improve the work environment for a number of employees. Flexible schedules make it possible for employees to work remotely, work at their best times, and to balance their schedules around other demands without compromising productivity or team unity. This will help improve your employee experience and reduce employee turnover.
While every workplace will have a unique schedule solution to achieve your goals and fulfill roles, the following steps will help you implement the best flexibility that your industry and business model can support.
Measure Work in Performance and Deadlines
Instead of measuring work in hours on the job, measure in performance and on-time deliverables. If all work is completed on-time and business requirements are met, then the specific hours they work can be downgraded in significance. This can also boost employee morale if it leads to greater rewards for more efficient employees.
Build Schedules From Hours Instead of Times
Assemble schedules to meet the desired number of hours per week - typically 40 hours - without requiring specific times. This way, if an employee wants to shift their schedule to early morning or late night hours, they are still putting in the same amount of work with greater flexibility.
Define Roles that Could Be Remote or Hybrid
Often, employees seeking a hybrid schedule appreciate the opportunity to work remotely or build a hybrid remote/on-site routine. You can provide this competitive opportunity to a by assessing which roles and tasks can be safely, easily, or conveniently done remotely from an employee's home office.
Ask and Understand Employee Schedule Preferences
Ask for feedback. Survey your employees about their employee engagement and what they want from flexible scheduling, and why. Use constructive feedback to learn about what makes flexible scheduling important to your team and the features of that flexibility that will make the most difference. Building on feedback not only helps to reduce the turnover rate, it also ensures employees feel valued when they share their thoughts and concerns.
Adopt a 24-Hour System
Allowing employees to work at their best times opens the door to 24-7 and international business operations. For example, night owls are often the best people to "hold down the fort" and answer late-night inquiries - and to connect with business associates/clients across the planet in different time zones.
Implement Software That Enables Greater Flexibility
Remote, cloud-based software, time-tracking software, shift planning software, hr software, and collaboration platforms with version control are all ways to make flexible scheduling easier to implement across the board. Look for ways that technology can empower your workforce for a wider range of accessibility and schedule control.
Create Policies that Can Be Broadly Applied
It's time to revamp your old scheduling policies, while ensuring your flexible methods are still fair to everyone on the team. Look for ways to create schedules that provide opportunities for career development, appeal to new employees, and fulfill the company's mission to become effectively flexible.
Ensure Fairness in Assigned Schedules
If elements of your business model require assigned schedules to achieve coverage or manage shifts, make sure that your flexible schedules ensure fairness in the assignation process. Ask everyone their preferences for the shifts and times they are assigned, allow swapping and negotiation, and reassess assignations if circumstances or team composition changes.
Addressing Potential Challenges
Implementing a flexible schedule to improve employee turnover can come with challenges. Be prepared to enac
Team Schedule Coordination
When decoupling schedules from common hours, one of the primary challenges is coordinating things like team meetings and collaborative sessions. Good communication matters. This is a particular challenge for all-remote teams, especially those built across different time zones.
The solution is to schedule team hours at least a week ahead of time and to make a routine of specific collaboration meetings. This way, everyone can plan around collab time and ask for a timely reschedule if something comes up.
Transparent Hours Worked for the Purpose of Wages
More flexible plans will need a time-tracking solution to ensure that every hour worked by an employee is accounted for and compensated. This will result in accurate assessments of productivity and correct wages. There are many software solutions that couple tasks and time-tracking to make flexible work hours easier to mange.
Managing Leave Policies
Leave policies are often built from rigid schedule expectations. However, with free-form schedules, calculating days off can be more challenging. However, in most cases, leave customs will still hold. Employees can call in sick or take a remote half-day when they are ill, schedule vacations for multiple full days off, or take partial days if their hours do not add up to 40 at the end of the week.
Building a Balanced Schedule
Managers will need to hone their time management skills to balance more flexible schedules. Ensuring hourly coverage and fulfilled deadlines will require coordination without relying on typical workday hours to simplify the calculations. Fortunately, many software programs offer advanced scheduling to make fair and balanced schedules easier to build.
Reducing high turnover rates involves understanding what your employees need from a modern employer and meeting those expectations. It's important to calculate employee turnover, both voluntary turnover and involuntary turnover, with new perspective.
A great many professionals today are seeking flexible schedules to accommodate their personal lifestyles and a better work-life balance. By upgrading the way you approach scheduling through software and updated policies, you can increase employee satisfaction and reduce your overall employee turnover rate.
As businesses grapple with high turnover rates, adopting employee-friendly policies like flexible scheduling becomes essential. Shiftbase, a comprehensive workforce management software, enables you to give your employees the flexibility they need. From adaptive employee scheduling to efficient time tracking and absence management, Shiftbase equips you to enhance your workplace environment, improve employee satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately, reduce turnover.
Don't let high turnover rates hinder your business growth. Experience the difference Shiftbase can make with a 14-day free trial today. See for yourself how a little flexibility can go a long way.