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John Marvin

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Lower Staff Turnover

It is as simple as asking why your employees are working for you.




“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

IF YOU ARE unfamiliar with this quote by Zig Ziglar, it is one to take to heart. It is one of those rare, simple per-spectives that make everything clear. It is the basis of all interpersonal relationships; but somehow, we’ve lost sight of this simple and fundamental truth.

Think about what you do as an eyecare provider. Do we not spend our careers helping other people get what they want? People come to us for help. At the core, we help people see the important things in life. In fact, that is the stated mission statement of our company. “We help people see the important things in life.”

We help children see their teacher and classroom. We help parents see their children grow up. We help grandparents watch their first grandchild say their wedding vows and realize their family legacy.

But what about your employees? They chose to work for you for a reason. Do you know the reason? Have you asked what they want?

One of the biggest challenges private practice optometrists have is staff turnover. If you employ eight people and three of them leave and have to be replaced within the year, you have a staff turnover rate of 38%. If this happens more than once within the year, you double the turnover rate to 76%.

High turnover is very expensive. It is estimated that losing and replacing an employee can cost your business 1.5 to 2 times the employee’s salary. If someone you have hired at $15 an hour quits and you have to hire their replacement, it can cost you more than $30,000. How many people have you hired and replaced in the past 12 months? We worry about the wholesale cost of contact lenses but don’t seem to worry about the cost of high staff turnover.

Here are three things you can do right now to lower staff turnover and, in doing so, your cost.

Ask employees what they want. It seems simple, but when was the last time you had a meaningful discussion with one of your staff about what they want for their life? Why are they working for you? Of course, it is the money, but what do they want to do with the money?

You have desires, plans for the future, and things important to you; your employees are the same. They, too, have desires and dreams for their future.

The first step is asking them what they want.

Write it down. Keep a file for each employee with notes about what they have said are the reasons they are working for you. Sit with each employee and write out their life plan. What kind of home do they want? What activities do they enjoy and want more of with their family? Maybe what they want is to get out of debt. Whatever it is, write it down.

Help them get what they want. Help them break down what they want into achievable steps. Discuss and agree on how their job can get them what they want. It won’t happen overnight but this will give them a path forward. When they see and understand that working for you and your business can and will get them what they want, they have a new interest in their job and responsibilities.

Sounds simple, right? It is, but it is not easy. It is not easy, because you have to do it. You have to get out of your comfort zone to have these types of meaningful discussions. Remember, you can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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