The Cost of Turnover

Published on Jan 12th, 2012 by

The Cost of Turnover

With specialist profiles the cost of turnover is almost always vastly underestimated. Keeping the good people on board and motivated is really important.

I’ve had projects where the main player in my project quit, got transferred or even was fired right under my nose without me being consulted. All situations caused irrecoverable damage, just by neglecting the value of that one person. Things like this happen, you’ll find a solution but the shininess of your project will be a distant memory.

Look at this type of situations as a risk, it’s what’s often called the truck number, or more respectfully, the lottery number for a certain key role in a project. The lower the number, the higher the risk. Should anyone in that key role get run over by a truck or win the lottery, they’d be gone and the project would be stuck in a rut.

Should you be dealing with this kind of risk, look into Brook’s law which says that adding people to a late project makes it only later, the same goes for finding replacements and the resulting team dynamics are the same.

Some time ago I wrote an article on project manager switching, which often is a project’s death sentence (or at least a budget death sentence) if not done properly: Neglected Truths in a Project Hand Over.

I found this great list of the cost that a lost employee will bring along:

  • Time for your existing employees to cover work in the interim
  • Time to to find a replacement
  • Money  to find a replacement
  • Money to train the replacement
  • Loss of knowlegde (imho the most overlooked cost in IT)
  • Stress and strain on an existing team

Here’s the infographic from with other great clues, showing the signs your rockstar employee might be looking for a new job,  nicely presented stuff, have a look …

an infographic showing ealry warning signs someone on your team might be leaving

If your HR department can identify key employees and help out in keeping them, they are worth their weight in gold. Yet, I still have to meet the second HR professional that comes by the PMO and asks who’s indispensable for anything (the first one got promoted). Don’t get me wrong, people management is a shared responsibility that HR shouldn’t bear by itself, that goes without saying.

Latest Comments (2)

PM Hut

When you have been managing people for a long time, you will know instantly that an employee is going to leave you, and it’s when he gives you “that look”. “That looks” takes no more than a split second and it means that the employee is sick of you, your company, and the rest of the team.

It’s better to start making a contingency whenever you feel someone is leaving you. Employees love to leave you at a moment where they can cause the most disturbance to your business.

January 13, 2012 14:46 Reply


I guess I know what you're saying, you have to trust your gut and it's better to be safe then sorry. Trying to get someone back after he or she is over that point of bitterness won't do any good either in my experience either.

January 13 2012 16:25 pm

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