Employees are a company’s greatest asset. They are the nuts and bolts of an organization and can also be its competitive advantage—the factor that separates one company from another. Attracting and retaining a talented, skilled workforce can be the difference between growth and success or ineffectiveness and decline. Maintaining qualified employees maximizes productivity and provides company cost savings. According to Forbes, personnel turnover can cost employers 30 to 50 percent of an employee’s salary for entry-level employees, 150 percent for mid-level employees, or upwards of 400 percent for senior or specialized employees. Beyond the direct financial costs associated with losing valuable talent, there are indirect costs, including diminished productivity, reduced organizational morale, and loss of institutional knowledge. Although voluntary employee turnover cannot be avoided entirely, research suggests that job dissatisfaction and a negative work environment are leading causes for resignation—however, satisfaction with the workplace to be inversely related to employee intentions to leave. Subsequently, low employee turnover increases organizational productivity and overall performance.
Meeting Business Needs
Employee feedback is a valuable source of insight into the perceptions and experiences of the labor force. Not only does soliciting feedback on their experience, bolster morale and demonstrate their importance to the organization, but it also provides a critical window for management and leadership on the workplace dynamics that ultimately, impact employee productivity, performance, and retention. Feedback from exiting employees offers an exceptionally unique opportunity to assess workplace dynamics and the reasons for departure. These insights can be vital in better understanding the motivation for leaving and empower management to develop strategies that reduce or prevent further preventable turnover. Furthermore, exit feedback can reveal areas for training and professional development among the remaining employees.
As technical experts in process improvements and evaluations, Karna, LLC, partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of the Chief Operating Officer (OCOO) to analyze workplace data from exiting employees, assess the evaluation process and provide data-driven recommendations for process improvements to provide leadership with invaluable insight and feedback on the work environment. Karna’s effort aimed to provide CDC leadership with a better understanding of the work experience and employee-management dynamics, as well as its effectiveness in meeting its organizational goals through the assessment of feedback from exiting employees. Employee exit data were collected through approximately a 10-15 minute online survey and a 1-hour in-person interview. Both queried various aspects of the work experience, including employee-manager relations and work culture. Participation in the ESI was voluntary.
Using quantitative and qualitative analytic techniques, the Karna team analyzed multi-year, archival data from the OCOO employee exit surveys and interviews. Findings from the analyses were used to develop tailored reports for each Business Service Office (BSO) with trend analyses, and targeted recommendations specific to the respective offices. Findings from the report revealed essential areas of strength and opportunities for improvement for the organization and provided a comparison to other work environments. It also provided evidence-based strategies to address these areas and support employee retention. The results of the reports were used to inform data-driven retention strategies designed to enhance the work environment and support the organization’s designation as a leading place for employment. Moreover, Karna’s interdisciplinary team of evaluation experts consulted with leadership to advise them plans to optimize the benefits of utilizing exiting employee data to drive workplace improvements and monitor changes over time.
Public Health Impact
Fostering a work environment that demonstrates employee value and supports job satisfaction is critical to maintaining a talented, productive workforce. Organizations that demonstrate their commitment to establishing a healthy, supportive workplace with growth opportunities for employees are less inclined to experience as much voluntary employee turnover. Workplace evaluation mechanisms such as employee satisfaction surveys and exit surveys provide leadership regular, ongoing insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the employee work environment. These insights are critical to developing and implementing practices that address such factors and promote the retention of a talented employee, thereby ensuring its competitive edge. Retaining top talent is a key component to fulfilling CDC’s mission to increase the health security of our nation.