Money & The Economy

Employee Turnover Is Devastating Productivity — And Businesses Have Had Enough

Employee turnover has surged since the pandemic, and the need to replace and train new employees at high volume has hampered productivity for businesses, according to The New York Times.

More than 4.5 million workers voluntarily left their jobs in November 2021, the highest since the government began tracking this data 20 years earlier, and the turnover rate remains significantly higher than it was before the pandemic, according to the NYT. Businesses are struggling with the costs of high turnover; new employees take time to become productive, and existing employees lose productivity because of the time they spend training others.

The leisure and hospitality industries have seen especially high employee turnover due to a highly competitive labor market, according to the NYT. The negative impact that turnover has had on businesses across the board may be harming the economy overall by contributing to weak productivity growth in the last few years.

“All that turnover, all that hiring, all that training you have to do — that takes away from your day job,” Sarah House, an economist at Wells Fargo, told the NYT. “So it’s essentially less output at the end of the day.”

The manufacturing company W.H. Bagshaw has seen a slowdown in production due to high employee turnover and the constant need to train new employees; 22 employees exited the company over the last two years, while only one or two left in 2019, according to the NYT.

“Anytime we bring in a new hire, they’re not productive on Day 1 — usually they’re shadowing someone for a few weeks or months,” Adria Bagshaw, the company’s vice president, told the NYT. “You’re investing in someone for the future. Whoever is doing the training, they’re slowed down from their normal productivity.”

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