Every Sunday for many years, Casey Kasem would play America’s Top 40 pop songs. Earlier this week, NPR reported another, but ignominious top 40. The current White House has experienced an unheard of turnover rate of 40%. In other words, four out of ten staffers who were on the payroll a year ago have departed.
To add some seasoning to this, two of the most difficult jobs to keep people are customer service representatives and bank tellers, which often see turnover rates at or above 40%. So, to see similar turnover is alarming. But, how does this rank to other White Houses?
Earlier this year, an article appeared in the Brookings Institute webpages called “Why is Trump’s staff turnover higher than the five most recent Presidents?” by Kathryn Dunn Tenpans. She focused on A team turnover, but the turnover problem is pervasive. Per the article, “President Trump’s A team turnover is record setting – double the previous leader, Reagan, and more than triple his immediate predecessor, Obama.”
Why is this important? There is a huge loss of productivity in those that leave as well as those who replace them, as they get up to speed. Plus, there is downtime for the managers as they backfill and take time to interview, hire and coach. In some of my previous work in HR for a large bank, i used average productivity ratios and turnover by group to estimate the cost of turnover at roughly 1 1/2 times the compensation expense of the departed people.
Per the Brookings article, “while some turnover is expected and possibly beneficial, excessive turnover portends a problem.” This data is relevant with more than a few stories about the low morale in the White House. Several sources have cited feuding factions and jealousies as well as a leader who perpetuates and accentuates a highly toxic environment.
When people are not productive in jobs of import, it is harmful to their efforts. It is also harmful to our country. The President has been covered extensively over the years by financial reporters and biographers. His sales skills are envied, but the same cannot be said for his management skills. Trump has said on more than one occasion that he likes to pit people against each other and does not mind the chaos. Well, that is an absolutely horrible management approach. And, the inconsistent messaging from the White House reveals as much, as well as its turnover.
When a company has a high turnover rate, typically senior management begins looking into the causes … perhaps a manager who does not treat employees fairly, too-heavy work loads, staff feels under-appreciated … there is always a reason, and high turnover is not, as you have noted, efficient. The turnover in the White House speaks volumes about the chaos in this administration, which poses problems in every area, including national security. As I mentioned, typically senior management would be asking the tough questions, trying to identify the problem. But in this case, senior management IS the problem. 😦
Great post, Keith!
Jill, you are dead on accurate. Yet, in this case, everyone in the White House knows what the problem. Organizations take on the personality of its leader. This organization is vindictive, backstabbing, bullying and untruthful, but not to the degree of the big boss. Keith
Thanks Keith. Yes, there can be no doubt, especially among those who work with him every day. What I don’t get is how they do it without becoming ill. And why?
Jill, good question. My guess is they look in the mirror to get ready each day wondering what the day will bring with their mercurial boss. Right now, there are many worried people in the White House between Mueller and Omarosa. There will be more terminations in the next few months, as some don’t want to wait until the midterms. Keith
Note to Readers: I have said often, the happiest people in America are those who turned down Trump’s offer to work for him. The second happiest are those who no longer work for him. The third, their spouses?
It does not take a rocket science to see the chaotic environment that surrounds the President. His large ego and temper make for a very mercurial setting. You could not pay me enough to work for someone who elicits so little respect, and that was before he was elected. He now is even worse.
At a publicly traded company, top executives do have a check, the shareholders. to be a check. Excessive turnover in comparison to the competition is not a good sign. It is not easy to fire folks at the top because those who study the stock market, look for this kind of thing. The health of a company is reflected in other signs besides the annual report
This White House is supposed to be checked by the US Congress which has been assigned oversight duties and responsibilities. But the GOP members in the US Congress are failing to honor their oath of office. They are MIA when it comes to being a check.
Their latest responses / reactions/ talking points regarding the president having revoked the security clearance of John Brennan has me fuming.
Gronda, agreed. Trump has benefitted greatly from inheriting a percolating economy. To his credit, challenging some regulations helped and the tax law helped some, but the economy would still be in good shape without either.
Yet, in addition to his horrible management style and vendettas he carries, the decisions he is making to help the economy actually are long term detrimental – making a huge debt worse, bullying and setting tariffs on allies, going too far with cutting some regulations, making it difficult to immigrate to the US and worsening ACA premiums – all will have a dilutive impact on the economy. By the way, we are headed toward a record buy back of company stock after the tax law change.
If Trump were a CEO, the Board would be worried about the style and turnover and the minute the numbers turned, he would be let go. Keith