If one of your goals this year is to reduce employee turnover, you’re not alone. Employee turnover is costly, aggravating, time-consuming, and it erodes hard-built teamwork efforts. An article in Fast Company discussed the issue of employee turnover, and it gave tips for reducing turnover and working with employees who are exhibiting toxic behaviors. Let’s examine some of article’s points and discuss how you can take its advice to make 2014 a year of low turnover for your organization.
Employee turnover is no small matter– particularly in the call center industry
Call centers, unfortunately, suffer some of the highest turnover rates in the professional services industry. Depending on the type of call center, turnover rates average 20 – 50% a year. Companies pay around 50% of a low-skilled hourly worker’s annual wages, plus benefits, for every employee lost. In addition to being an expensive problem, when turnover is caused by toxic employee behavior, it can erode workplace morale and cause management headaches. In particular, some of the more common “toxic” behaviors to be on the lookout for are noted below:
Employee aggressive behavior: Employees who exhibit any kind of aggressive behavior, including throwing tantrums, making threats, or unnecessarily raising their voices.
Narcissistic behavior: Employees who are self-focused and unable to compromise or work in a flexible culture.
Lack of credibility and follow-through: A toxic behavior of employees who aren’t honest, don’t follow through with what they say, and lack credibility.
Passive behavior: Employees who don’t show initiative or ownership of their behavior.
Disorganization: These are employees who are consistently unorganized, unable to focus, or unable to work with structure.
Resistance to change: Employees who are overly rigid and unable to evolve or learn new skills and adapt to a changing work environment.
If you’ve encountered any of the above toxic behaviors in employees, you likely know that working with the employees can become so difficult that you end up spending unnecessary resources and training on improving the employee’s behavior, and it often ends in the employee being terminated.
Why is it so hard to spot toxic behavior?
In reading through the above list, did it puzzle you that employees with such toxic traits could ever get hired in the first place? How do they slip through the interview process? There are a few different reasons – and it’s due to common errors that many workplaces make:
The nature of the interview process: The interview process is generally short – particularly in call centers. People with toxic behaviors are often able to conceal their behavior patterns while being interviewed, and sometimes, people aren’t even aware of their own behaviors, so they come off as honest and eager to please.
The problem with references: Candidates may choose references whom they know will only say positive things. Additionally, fear of legal blowback can prevent even knowledgeable references from being forthcoming about an employee’s record.
Poor detection ability from managers: Managers may not be able to detect an employee’s toxic behavior, even after the employee has started working for the company. Some employees may be adept at acting their best when their boss is around. Additionally, fellow employees may be afraid to “snitch” out an employee. Finally, employees who are technically competent may slip through the performance review process if their toxic behavior doesn’t show up on a checklist of competencies that employees are measured by.
But don’t give up – it is possible to reduce turnover by preventing toxic behaviors in the first place
Toxic employees may inevitably slip through the cracks, but you can take preventative steps to lessen the possibility that you will hire toxic employees in the first place.
Step 1: The best way to reduce employee turnover is to not hire toxic employees. Take a different approach with your hiring strategy by implementing 360 degree observer ratings in the interview process and using self-assessment instruments. Additionally, you can tell employees that they are expected to follow core workplace behaviors (many will be the opposite of toxic behaviors), and that you will enforce strict rules to ensure the employee meets the standards.
Step 2: If you realize that an employee is likely to act out with toxic behaviors, intervene early. Implement coaching and education opportunities that give the employee chances to learn how to correct the behaviors before they become an issue.
Step 3: Finally, if steps 1 and 2 fail, take your losses and let the employee go before he or she has a chance to erode morale and infect other employees with toxic behaviors. Make sure that you have taken clearly documented notes about the employee’s behavior and the steps you took to improve the behavior before you deliver a termination notice.
Reduce employee turnover by changing how your organization approaches hiring and training
Your call center does not have to be another statistic with high-employee turnover. By changing how you screen, interview, hire, and train employees and managers, you can make drastic differences in your turnover numbers and build a culture of enthusiastic team players.