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Be A Great Boss By Practicing Transparency, Encouraging Communication, And Investing In your Employees’ Happiness.

As much as I’d like to write the grand-slam article about eliminating staff turnover once and for all, I just can’t do it. Why? Because staff turnover is like that really weird thing you did in high school – it becomes easier to deal with over time, but it will never completely disappear.

According to a recent report by BambooHR, almost one-third of a sampled group of 1000 American workers left their position within the first six months of employment. Each of them had their own reasons and motivations for doing so, but they commonly cited that the reasons for leaving the job were:

1) Negative Onboarding Experiences.

2) Vague Instruction Regarding The Exact Duties And Expectations Of A Position.

3) Bad Bosses.

This was almost one-third of new hires! Take a look at your current new staff – yes, even Jim who promised he’d be your go-to guy for the rest of his life. Now, fast forward six months… take a deep breath, because according to BambooHR, almost one-third of them are officially out of here. Maybe even Jim.

Don’t despair, though.

Regardless of whether you’re running a small start-up firm, a franchise, or a multi-million dollar business, staff turnover will be an issue. Just think of any successful business that looks like they’ve got everything running smoothly.

Consider SpaceX: they’re a private company, a major contractor with NASA, pioneering reusable rockets and making mankind’s journey to Mars seem not only possible, but inevitable. Legendary marketing (launching a car into space, live-streaming the footage back to Earth.) makes the company, and its CEO Elon Musk, household names.

Now look at this T-shirt:

“I left the X for a Virgin”

One of SpaceX’s major competitors, Virgin Galactic, notoriously poaches SpaceX’s talent. They even give out a special t-shirt to commemorate the move.

But SpaceX is where it’s at. Why would anyone want to leave?

Research conducted by Kronos and Future Workplace asserts that 87 percent of HR leaders consider employee retention initiatives to be important. The intangible effects of turnover – training costs, disruption of workflow, etc. – make it difficult for companies to tackle the issue with proportional resources.

SpaceX struggles with turnover. Your business will struggle with turnover too.

Okay. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about minimizing its effect on your business.

Unless I’ve been living under a rock, and automation has skipped a few mega-steps, then we’re all still human beings in the workplace. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie, a manager, an executive, or that legendary old-timer who knows the place inside and out – we should all be able to relate with each other on the primal level of what motivates us.

Now, I’m not talking about business motivations. Nancy, for instance, might not be as passionate as Frank clearly is about finding ¼” staples at a surplus depot, 6 percent off the standard price.

Stanley might not care which way the coffee mug handles point in the break room, but try telling that to Sylvia…

And a manager like Logan definitely shouldn’t expect the same kind of passion for meeting sales goals as Alex, the new employee who is still learning the ropes.

The primal level of motivation that I’m talking about is happiness, plain and simple.

Being happy or content with a situation encourages one to stay, and to prosper. Lack of happiness encourages one to look elsewhere in an attempt to find it.

Let’s look at this really, really scientific experiment:

A cat will usually nap in that warm, sunny patch on the couch, right?

Why? There might be a lot of reasons, but my guess is because that sunny patch is more pleasant to nap in than in the shade.

(My journalistic integrity would be in jeopardy if I didn’t elaborate on the above conclusion – I did try, without success, to interview the above cat regarding why she chose the sunny place to take her nap. With no replies to my queries, though, I was forced to resort to speculation.)

Let’s put the cat away for a moment.

Regardless of your position at the workplace, ask yourself what makes you feel happy. Do you feel that your work is valuable? Do you have the esteem of your coworkers, and do you esteem them? Do you care? Do you enjoy the work that you do? Are you happy at home with the amount of money you earn?

Is there a sunnier patch on the couch?

You don’t need to coddle your people. Of course, it’s a workplace, not a daycare – but consider the top three reasons for employees leaving a job so soon after starting: A negative onboarding experience, vague instructions regarding the exact duties and expectations of a position, and bad bosses.

There’s a lot of nuance when it comes to employee turnover – everyone has their own unique reasons – but something that can definitely help alleviate all three of these problems is transparency.


Transparency will help eliminate any kind of negative surprise. If you can communicate to your new employee exactly the kind of environment they will be working in – exactly what your expectations of them are, and exactly who they are going to be working for, then they can make a much more informed decision on whether to take the job or not.

Don’t be a different person in the interview. Be yourself. If your manner is direct, blunt, and unfiltered, then don’t wear an easy-going mask during the interview with the intention of taking it off once they’ve signed the paperwork. That’s called shooting yourself in the foot.

If they accept the offer, great! They’ll know what they’re signing up for, and you can get to work.

If they decline, then you dodged a bullet. Yes, you’ll need to spend resources finding someone else to fill the position, but studies by the American Center For Progress estimate that the cost of replacing skilled employees can exceed double their annual salary. That’s a lot of money! While this statistic is not from the same group as BambooHR’s statistical group, it does shed light on the kind of costs your business might face by losing a skilled employee.

The following statistic isn’t meant to scare you, but even in a “happy” work environment, you’ve got to assume that people are constantly on the lookout for something better.

A report from Willis Towers Watson claims that at any time, more than 25 percent of employees are considered to be “high risk” for turnover. That includes key players on your team, new talent, management – even you.

And it makes sense if you consider the human aspect – the happiness factor. I mean, there’s a reason why people almost never say “thanks, that’s enough” when parmesan cheese is being rained upon their spaghetti. Sure, what they’ve got is already amazing, but… just a bit more cheese would make it even better.

Don’t just que sera, sera though. You can do something about this.


Be proactive by maintaining dialogue with your employees and your coworkers. And be approachable. A major indicator that something isn’t right in the workplace is when an employee avoids management. Whether this is the employee’s or management’s “fault” is irrelevant, really – assume that the problem is you.

So make a point of keeping the lines of communication open and easy. Understanding your team’s engagement (how proactive they are regarding their professional duties) is an excellent way to keep morale high, encourage your team, and reduce turnover.

To say that employee turnover is nuanced goes without saying. Every employee’s circumstances are unique, and we can’t ever hope to fully understand the human condition – if anyone in your workplace does claim to know this, don’t trust them!

Maybe your employee is just a jerk. Maybe you’re just a jerk. Maybe you’re both jerks. Maybe neither of you are jerks, and only you think the other is a jerk because of something overheard in the breakroom that wasn’t even about either of you. Who knows?

Openness and transparency isn’t a magic fix, though – it’s an excellent practice. Some aspects of turnover rate, however, are more on the practical side.

That’s right, we’re talking about money now.

According to Glassdoor, 35 percent of employees are willing to search for new work based on salary dissatisfaction.

This sounds natural enough – I don’t think many of us would show up to work every day if we weren’t getting paid for it, despite what the motivational posters say. But consider what was discussed above regarding transparency. Are your employees expecting something unrealistic because you weren’t upfront or honest regarding salary expectations during the interview? Was your ad for the job accurate? Just a few words at the beginning of the hiring process regarding salary exp


Money is a complicated subject in any context, but always keep in mind the costs of losing an employee, as well as the returns of having an engaged employee.

Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy pretty much everything else. Be upfront with your employees about what they might hope to earn at your business – that way, no one is disappointed.

In the 1980s film The Shining, Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) was really onto a cutting-edge management theory when he wrote that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

I’m pretty sure he’s talking about employee burnout.

“Heeere’s workplace fun!”

A 2017 study by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace backs up Torrance’s words by asserting that the “burn and churn” reality of many modern workforces makes it difficult for organizations to form solid engaged workforces.

So let your employees know that it’s okay to have a life, and to speak out if something isn’t working for them. Just knowing that they can change their situation within a company for the better is a huge asset. A manager’s skill in maintaining open communication with employees is a key way of doing that. Listen to your people.

Help your employees realize that the sunny spot to nap on the couch doesn’t have to be at another job. It just might be in your power to create that new sunny spot for them within your company. The effects of openness and transparency might be intangible, but they’re undeniable, and you can reduce your employee turnover by bringing that into practice.


Another thing… don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s not always about you. Researchers at TINYpulse recently found that employee happiness depends far more on the relationships between coworkers than with management. We’re talking 23.3 percent more!

Don’t believe me? Just watch The Office – make sure to give it a few episodes, though; it’ll grow on you.

So by all means, foster good relationships with your employees, but also let them do it themselves. If Garth is taking a slightly-longer-than-usual coffee break with Serena, maybe just… let it happen. They might enjoy work a lot more, and hey, you might get a wedding invitation in a few months addressed to “Cool Boss.”

Not to sound like Master Yoda, but transparency leads to respect, and respect leads to a happy workplace. Do you like to feel respected? Of course you to. Do you think they like to feel respected? Of course they do.

There are an infinite number of angles to approach a problem, but if people have not been misled to expect certain things, to feel respected, and to respect the people around them, then a lot of those problems will solve themselves.

If you want your business to run smoothly, brace yourself for turnover. It’s going to happen no matter what, and it might not even be a bad thing. Fresh talent is out there, and they’ll come to you if you invite them in.

But minimising turnover is definitely something you can control if you implement those three practices into your leadership style:

Be transparent – no surprises; let your employees know exactly who you are, what they’re doing, and what kind of salary they can expect to earn.

Be open to communication – as soon as your people don’t feel comfortable approaching you with feedback or ideas, you’re limiting your ability to hold onto employees, and your ability to grow as a business.

Remember that your office is filled with human beings who want to be happy. Oliver Twist wasn’t an instruction manual – it was a warning! By investing in your employees’ happiness, you’re helping them and your business thrive.

And now, sit back and get ready for some serious feel-good workplace ROI.

What’s Your Secret to Keeping a Happy Ship?