- Quitting is contagious: After the first member of a team resigns, voluntarily or not, the remaining members are more likely than nonteam members to follow, according to a new report from data research platform Visier. Understanding the risk can help HR pros, business leaders and line managers mitigate turnover and retain needed talent, the report stated.
- Generally, when a team member quits of their own accord, team colleagues are 9.1% more likely to leave, and they usually do so within 135 days of the first quit, according to the report. If a team member involuntarily resigns, other team members are 7.7% more likely to follow within 105 days. Team size makes a difference: 2-member teams are 25.1% more likely to lose more members after the initial resignation, while teams of 6 to 10 members — the ideal team size — are 14.6% more likely to experience “turnover contagion.”
- The probability of turnover contagion begins around 45 days after the first quit and peaks at 70 days, according to the report. To mitigate the risk of further turnover, Visier recommends that managers stay in daily contact with remaining team members and: 1) watch for behavior that precedes quitting, such as decreased productivity; 2) have career conversations with remaining team members, conduct “stay interviews” or explore internal mobility opportunities; and 3) give new employees to opportunity to form relationships with others outside the team (e.g., cohort onboarding).
It remains to be seen whether the massive layoffs planned by Twitter, Meta and Amazon signal what’s next for other industries. But ongoing concern about a recession does have CHROs talking about staff reductions, according to a PwC pulse survey released Nov. 2.
A “significant majority” (81%) said they will use at least one tactic — such as layoffs, voluntary retirement, performance-based cuts or attrition — to greatly reduce their workforce, HR Dive recently reported. At the same time, 44% of CEOs say they are hiring in specific areas to drive growth, the PwC survey found.
This presents an obvious challenge for HR: making widespread staff cuts while growing the workforce in targeted areas. As Visier explains: “Effective workforce planning and analysis includes being able to forecast how many employees are likely to leave.” But the risk of turnover contagion makes this difficult. And it’s costly. Voluntary turnover has been calculated to be about $110,000 per lost employee, Visier reported.
Yet, in some industries, such as customer service, employers are more concerned with hiring new workers than retaining existing ones, despite high staff turnover and rising recruiting costs, HR Dive has reported.
That could be detrimental to their businesses, according to an MIT Technology report released in September. Instead, the key to retention may be in developing career paths for employees and providing them with robust learning programs, the report found. Involving leaders in training also keeps employees engaged and ROI high, a 2021 Momentive report noted.
Communicating with staff on a regular basis is also important, especially in industries with high turnover and intense labor shortages, such as healthcare and retail, HR Dive previously reported. This includes surveying employees, listening to their feedback, responding to the feedback and providing continuous coaching. For employees to stick around, they have to feel heard, experts have said.