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How to Increase Retention and Fix a High Attrition Rate

In the age of the Great Resignation, also known as the Great Reshuffle or the War for Talent, everyone's focused on buzzwords like churn, turnover, and attrition rate. But what happens when you've run the numbers, and they're not so good? Where do you go from there? 

If you've calculated your attrition rate and you don't like what you see, you're not alone. Workplaces are seeing turnover at an all-time high. Turnover is expensive, kills productivity, and can hurt your profit, not to mention your reputation. With customers and employees in the driver's seat, you may be scrambling to keep them happy and engaged. There are a few key ways to reduce churn, like being proactive, listening, having critical and sometimes difficult conversations, and using the data to help inform a plan you can successfully execute. 

Be Proactive

One of the most important ways to fix a high attrition rate or reduce turnover is to be proactive. You don't want to be hearing about issues for the first time in an exit conversation. Take the time to listen to the challenges and struggles your teams and customers are having. Then, try to create action plans for how you can relieve or mitigate stressors. 

There are no two ways about it; stress is at an all-time high. That stress can lead to many issues, such as mental health problems, burnout, and a constant feeling of crisis. When these personal and professional stressors come to the forefront, they can hurt a company's people.  

It's critical to be proactive about potential issues with customers and teams so you can alleviate problems before they begin. Being proactive in this case means having open lines of communication and regular conversations to determine where people are. Look for themes in language and behavior to help you predict what similar groups may need. You can also use data to spot minor issues before they become significant problems.

Make Data-Informed Decisions

When you see a high turnover or attrition rate, it's critical to look at the data. What kinds of numbers are you seeing? What do those numbers indicate? Is there a lack of engagement? If so, why? Are people having difficulty connecting to the product, are they overwhelmed with information, are they siloed in any way, left to work independently with little accountability or interaction? 

However, the data is just a starting point. Since structures can sometimes make it seem like you're only dealing in transactions, it's easy to ignore the humanity of it all. Every customer is a human, and every company is a collection of humans that require connection to work together.  And to connect to those humans, you need to have conversations.

Take the trends you see in the data back to the key stakeholders in those areas and departments and start to have conversations like, how can we add value here while removing roadblocks? How can we break down specific barriers to access, and how can we combat fatigue? 

For instance, if your teams are overwhelmed with work and struggling with burnout, let them take Friday off. If customers are passionate about your product but struggling financially, consider offering them a break on their next month's bill. Realistic but straightforward fixes like these can go a long way in helping you retain both employees and customers for the long term.

Another aspect of proactivity means having these conversations as you notice trends in the data. Talking to your teams and customers can help you prevent small movements from developing into full-blown crisis. 

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Focus on Communication

To successfully reduce churn and sustain lasting relationships, create as many touchpoints with your customers and team members as possible. Even if you feel that your communication is strong and you don't need to meet with them often, schedule a check-in once or twice a month to gauge everyone. 

When you're having these conversations, you don't always need to talk about what's going wrong. Talking about what's going right can also help you inform your overall processes and strengthen relationships. 

Communication is a vital aspect of building and maintaining trust. Regular communication increases trust and will open up the door for people to tell you when they begin to feel discomfort or see a kink in the system. That way, you're not just reaching out when there's an issue. 

This open dialogue will give you more information than formal structures and help you create human-focused solutions. Increasing touch points and regularly communicating with your customers and team members can make a world of difference in these relationships.

Build relationships outside of key stakeholders

When it comes to your customers, you may instinctually focus on your main points of contact within the company. While this makes sense, make sure to branch out and create relationships beyond those points. Doing so will enable you to maintain relationships and relevance to the company. If your only contact leaves their position and someone new comes in with zero knowledge of your product, you could face challenges. 

On the other hand, a customer who truly loves your product will be a customer for life, no matter where they go. So chat with the first few people who jump on the call or someone who sticks around to ask questions after the training. These small interactions can build visibility and confidence, making or breaking the relationship down the line.

Hear what's not being said

Often what's not said is more important than what is. Use your emotional intelligence to read between the lines to understand what isn't being fully communicated. 

Picking up on small cues and asking questions can help those who may not have the language to share what they need. This aspect is another place regular communication comes into play. If you've already built rapport, it will make people feel safe to share what's really going on. Once you understand where people are, you can create tangible solutions to help them. 

A high attrition rate doesn't have to be the end of the world. It can be a wake-up call to help you understand what areas need attention and change. And sometimes, it's just not a right fit. However, if it gets to the point where you have more exit interviews than candidate interviews, especially after long-term relationships, you want to know you've done all you can.

Use Learning to Retain Top Talent

The second biggest reason companies are hemorrhaging top talent is lack of growth. Team members are no longer willing to stay for the long haul if they don't see what's in it for them. One of the most important ways you can help your teams grow and develop through their time at your company is through enterprise learning. A robust enterprise learning strategy will not only make your teams more valuable to you, but it will also make your company more valuable to your teams. The more your team members feel like they're learning and growing at work, the more confidence they'll have in their abilities and the more likely they'll be to stay.

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