Instead of Always Seeking to Retain, Here’s Why Businesses Should Embrace the Churn

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Many employers go to great lengths to avoid employee turnover. After all, when you assemble a team of talented, hard-working individuals, performance and motivation can be removed from your list of concerns. Thus, you’ll find no shortage of advice on how businesses can boost retention and create a more attractive work environment.

Companies also survey their people to identify and address areas for improvement. Yet employees still come and go. While reducing turnover is often a good idea, losing people also creates opportunities for businesses to grow. Here’s how your organization can succeed by embracing the churn:

Addition through subtraction

Ancient theologians coined the Latin phrase via negativa to denote understanding by focusing on what God is not. Recently, the author Nassim Nicholas Taleb also adopted this maxim to self-improvement. People can grow and get better by focusing on what they are not: cutting unhealthy practices and substances like alcohol or smoking from their lives. Likewise, a team can benefit from shedding some of its members.

Sometimes, the numbers speak for themselves. You could have employees who aren’t living up to performance expectations, for instance. Cost reduction could be a factor. Are you paying too much for an overqualified, experienced employee to do something that an intern could handle for a fraction of the cost?

And there are intangibles to consider. Perhaps an employee is meeting targets but doesn’t practice the company’s values and might be setting a bad example for others. Apply via negativa, and you can benefit from the loss.

Injecting fresh perspectives

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Netflix’s popular recent documentary, The Last Dance, documents the struggles of the Chicago Bulls during the 1997-98 NBA season. Despite being the decade’s dominant dynasty featuring some of the greatest players of all time, the Bulls at this point were an aging roster. They struggled to maintain vigor and enthusiasm for the daily grind and the long season ahead.

Businesses and sports teams alike face the challenge of keeping things fresh with an established organization. And since sports often provide an excellent metaphor for life and business decisions, you can adapt by doing what winning sports teams do: constantly integrating youth. Younger employees inject your team with fresh perspectives.

Millennials and Gen Zers are digital natives who embrace diversity and have a better overall education level than older generations. They drive change and innovation. For instance, their demand for better work-life flexibility has led to a revolution in remote working and novel use of downtown office space for a creative and collaborative environment. Replace your losses with young people and empower them. Your organization will be invigorated for the long haul.

Fostering harmony amid change

Realizing that employee turnover can work in their favor can lead employers to make frequent or significant personnel shake-ups. This can be either good or bad, depending on the situation. But as with any large-scale change, it’s vital to manage it properly, maintain a good balance, and communicate with your team.

You want to use via negativa judiciously and bring youth onboard where they will have a substantial impact. You don’t want to disrupt team chemistry and overall morale with all these comings and goings. Maintain an ongoing dialogue with the established team members and help them to deal with changes so that any transition will go along smoothly.

Retaining employees can save costs and avoid the challenge of trying to hire the right candidate to fill a void. But if you recognize the right opportunities, you can make employee turnover work in your favor, ending up with a more reliable team.

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