Will anybody speak up in favor of employee turnover? After all, most of what we hear about turnover is that it costs a lot and hurts productivity.

But that’s not the whole story, according to talent management guru John Sullivan. He says that about one-quarter of turnover is desirable.

Don’t blame the manager
Desirable situations – where you shouldn’t blame the manager(s) and might even praise them – include the following:

  • An underperformer quits. This spares the need to fire the person.
  • An underperformer is terminated. This shows your performance management system is working.
  • An underperformer goes to work for a competitor. It’s their loss!
  • A departing employee was highly paid due to seniority but delivered no more than those earning much less. You’ve saved money and lost little.
  • An employee with declining or irrelevant skills is replaced by another with increasing or more relevant skills. A net gain.
  • An underperformer’s departure allows the promotion of a deserving inside candidate. This is encouraging for others who want to rise within the organization.

When not to worry
In addition, Sullivan says, there are times when turnover is neutral and you shouldn’t worry too much about it. This happens when:

  • The job isn’t particularly hard to fill and/or has a short learning curve.
  • A departing employee gives enough notice for a strong replacement to be hired and trained in timely fashion.
  • An employee leaves because of major illness or something else than couldn’t be predicted or prevented.
  • A top performer leaves but seems open to returning after getting valuable experience elsewhere.

photo credit: E.Yoshio

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