Employee Turnover: How It Impacts Team Morale, and Steps to Take to Fix It

August 31, 2017

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, turnover is a fact of doing business. And while some instances of turnover is intentional or otherwise easy to get to the bottom of (such as if all employee exits are happening in the same department), turnover can also be totally random. Reason being: there are just so many reasons for an employee to leave a company. Sometimes we are even happy to see them go!

But anyways – the reasons for turnover isn’t what we’re going to talk about today. Instead, let’s talk about how employee turnover impacts the team members who stay.

For team members who stay, turnover creates a “ripple effect” that can lower team morale, decrease engagement, and even lead to additional turnover.

This means, in addition to trying to prevent turnover where possible, it’s your job as an employer to acknowledge this “ripple effect” and take action to minimize the negative affect turnover has on productivity.


Here are four scenarios that embody the ripple effect when employee turnover happens – and what to do to fix them.

Some turnover may be caused by management laying off employees or downsizing departments, or firing low-performing team members.

#1: “Oh crap, am I next?”

It’s human nature to speculate how events will affect us personally. A recent firing or layoff can make even high-performing, long-term employees wonder if they are also on the chopping block. This worry can cut into productivity and decrease morale.

Fix it by: Confident employees concentrate on doing a good job and contributing to company goals. Don’t let the turnover go unexplained. Leaders should meet with their team and explain why the decision was made. Answer questions and assure each employee that you still value their participation, and make sure they know the company is still solid.

Employee-driven turnover also affects the morale of the employees who must deal with the hole in the team the co-worker leaves behind…


#2: “Am I going to be stuck doing a bunch of extra work?”

When an employee leaves or the company downsizes, his or her team members are often left holding the bag. Saddling them with responsibilities the previous person handled without extra pay can create negative sentiment, fast. Without a clear direction of who needs to do what, each person can get frustrated and irritated. They can feel overworked and under-appreciated and this may lead to low morale and severe burn out.

Fix it by:

If the open position’s tasks are going to be divvied up by remaining team members, the manager should ask for their buy-in. Tell them specifically what they will be taking on so there’s no confusion. Consider giving a raise, even a small one, or a bonus for the team as compensation for shouldering more work.


#3: “Ooh, is the grass greener?”

If a team member lands a job with higher pay, better benefits, or heftier title, it’s possible for current employees to wonder if they need to start looking, too. A job search could take their minds off their work priorities, clog up projects, and cause friction with other employees who are working at full capacity.

Fix it by: Continue to find and implement ways to make their jobs exciting and rewarding. Offer flexible work schedules, for example. A recent survey by Flexjobs found that 82% of employees would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. Ongoing training and accolades for their accomplishments are two other ways to keep morale high. A person who is feels appreciated is less likely to leave.


#4: “Will the replacements be better than me?”

New employees can make seasoned team members feel old, outdated, and irrelevant, especially if there’s a good deal of hoopla with onboarding the new person. Turnover can put a bad taste in an employees’ mouths and they can decide to dislike the new employee before he or she even accepts the new job. This can lead to negative workplace issues like destructive personality conflicts and neglecting important projects because of lack of engagement.

Fix it by: Before the new person’s first day, talk to your team and explain why you chose them. Ask for each team member’s help in welcoming the person and assisting in their training. You may even go as far as specifically laying out what each team member can teach the new employee, which  plays to their strengths. This will make it the onboarding more of an engaged team effort.

Employee turnover is definitely a hurdle. And if you mishandle the situation it can leave your employees feeling out of the loop, expendable or even resentful, all of which drastically impacts morale. Keep productivity and engagement among your team members high by tackling ever turnover issue proactively and keeping communication forthcoming and open throughout the process.




Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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