Employers, many who have had a hard time lately finding people to fill open jobs, also face increasing challenges – and financial costs – related to people leaving jobs, according to a new survey from the Harris Poll.

Some 42% of U.S. companies that took part in the survey commissioned by Oklahoma City-based Express Employment Professionals responded that they’ve seen increases in employee turnover in the past year. Such turnover can be expensive. Costs related to lost productivity and recruiting averaged more than $26,500, they reported, and they can run much higher for some companies, especially when it comes to replacing very skilled or long-tenured employees.

Beyond immediate financial impacts, more than two-thirds of employers surveyed said high employee turnover negatively affects others who remain with companies, which can also affect bottom lines.

Some 80% of business respondents said they plan to rehire workers. Generally, they said plans would be to try to keep the same numbers of employees (36%) or even to increase overall employee counts (34%).

Businesses responded that employees cite various reasons for quitting. Most commonly:

  • More opportunities for advancement elsewhere (37%);
  • Better pay and/or benefits offered elsewhere (35%);
  • Around 1 in 3 hiring managers said vacancies increased due to employees simply resigning (33%) or retiring (33%).

John Culpepper, an Express Employment Professionals franchise owner in Georgia, said he expects higher turnover rates to remain an issue for employers headed into 2022. He said some are even “looking past” expectations for short tenures among employees because they need to fill open jobs so badly.

“Companies are willing to take a chance that they will be the company an employee will stay at,” he said.

In New Jersey, another Express franchise owner, Mike Nolfo, speculated that higher turnover rates can be linked to people generally being unhappy as a result of the pandemic and looking for ways to rebound.

“When people aren’t happy, they look to make a change (and) one of the easiest things to change is your work situation,” he said.

Survey contributors advised employers struggling to retain workers to focus on company culture, especially if pay and benefits they’re offering are comparable to what people might get at other businesses. Some businesses may need to focus more on employee engagement.

“If an employee is made to feel like just a number, nothing is keeping them from change,” Culpepper said.

It’s also important to engage with key players as the “backbone” of a company and get them involved in decision-making. And while pay raises may not be feasible for all employees, some may be needed to prevent key team members from looking for other opportunities.

“A healthy company culture has so many benefits for a business, some of which can ultimately affect the bottom line,” Express Chief Executive Officer Bill Stoller said. “At a time when inflation is pushing raw material prices higher and higher, companies can’t afford to add the high cost of turnover, as well.”