Employee Turnover & Motivation in the Workplace

When workers with low morale leave a workplace, motivation can improve for their successors.
When workers with low morale leave a workplace, motivation can improve for their successors. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Employee turnover is a natural part of doing business. It sometimes occurs because of dysfunctional situations in the workplace, and sometimes it is caused simply by changes in workers' personal lives. Employer turnover in itself does not correlate with improving or declining motivation for the workers that remain, but the circumstances surrounding employee turnover can either benefit or damage the motivation of your stable staff.

High Turnover Hurting Motivation

High employee turnover sometimes has a detrimental effect on motivation. The employees who leave may be looking for other jobs because they are unhappy with their current working conditions, causing workers who stay to wonder if they would be better off doing the same. Even if employees leave a job for personal reasons, if their co-workers have truly enjoyed working with them, it may be difficult for them to continue doing their jobs without their accustomed support system. In addition, getting used to new co-workers who are inexperienced can hurt employee motivation by increasing the workload of established staff.

High Turnover Helping Motivation

If some employees have not been doing a good job or they have been complaining about being dissatisfied, turnover that involves these employees moving on can have a beneficial effect on the motivation of remaining workers. Sometimes, the act of bringing in fresh faces who are excited about the company and its mission can help to revive the morale and motivation of employees who have been with the company for a while, especially if they bring fresh ideas and new visions.

Low Turnover Helping Motivation

When employees form a stable group, learning each others strengths, weaknesses and proclivities, low turnover can help employee motivation by enabling workers to build solid relationships and create synergies based on reinforcing each other's talents. The very fact that co-workers are reluctant to leave can help a team be enthusiastic and productive: this stability reinforces a company culture that shares the conviction that their company is a great place to work.

Low Turnover Hurting Motivation

When employees stay at a job even though they do not enjoy it, they create a workplace atmosphere that dampens the motivation even of workers who might otherwise be content with their jobs. This situation is especially likely to occur in an economic downturn: if workers are skeptical about their chances of finding positions elsewhere, they are more likely to cling to jobs where they are not happy, making their co-workers unhappy as well by complaining and failing to perform up to par.

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