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Lower Turnover Doesn't Equal Employee Engagement...

First up, all you wise guys and gals, don't ask me to define engagement in the comments.  I'm pleading the fifth, then citing the G12 and Zinger and Wright to get you off my freaking back...  It's like art, OK?  I know it when I see it...

Here's something I can talk about - employee turnover.  I've had my share, as has anyone who has lived in the mosh pit called HR.  In a rare upside in a slowing economy, employee turnover usually goes down, which makes sense.  Fewer jobs equals less total opportunity to change gigs, which equates to many of your employees hunkering down and trying to get through the slowdown.

Of course, just because your peeps aren't leaving you doesn't mean they are engaged.  To the contrary, they may be chronically tuned out to what's going on around them, feeling no link to theompany mission, their supervisor, etc.   In short, they aren't that into you, but they're not going to leave.  Add weak performance management to the mix, and you've got a recipe for a stale workplace, stale energy, and most importantly, stale performance.  Blah...

So don't think because people aren't leaving you in droves that they are engaged.  Like Peter Gibbons once said, "it's not that I'm lazy Bob, it's that I just don't care"...


Paul Hebert

Truer words were never said. Turnover is only a result. The causes can be varied from engaged employees to actively disengaged employees with nowhere to go.

As with any metric - it just tells you what is - not why it is. I have encountered many folks who stay with a company for a variety of reasons - engagement wasn't even on the list.

Great post Kris.

Chris Young

Kris - It's often difficult to fathom that low turnover could actually be a sign of workplace problems, but in times like these there is little doubt that the phenomena is alive and well in the workplace.

As you point out Kris a slow economy is one cause for unengaged employees to stick around and reduce turnover numbers. I believe there are others as well...

Turnover in our community (Bismarck, ND) is very low among business professionals. Many think this is great, but I feel that it is a result of lack of ample job opportunities that an MSA of only 100,000 offers. As a result many people stay in jobs they hate and are not engaged in because there just aren't a lot of great opportunities for career movement.

I blogged on this a couple of weeks ago:

Good stuff Kris, be well!

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