As with any large organization, IMB keeps a careful eye on employee turnover. After all, hiring new workers costs money due to the selection process, training, and initial deployment. Keeping experienced workers provides continuity and a pool of skillful knowledge. Loss rates can demonstrate organizational health, morale, financial concerns, and employee population changes.
IMB divides their losses into two basic categories: attrition and expected loss. The former refers to losses that no one anticipates: deaths, medical leave, firings, and resignations. An extremely low percentage of attrition comes via death/medical leave; something to the tune of about 3%. The latter heading, expected loss, includes retirements and end-of-service personnel. Short-term workers – Journeymen, Masters, ISCers, and even apprentices – who successfully complete their terms count as end-of-service personnel.
Recently, IMB leader Dr. Gordon Fort announced the IMB’s most recent attrition rate estimate at 3.9%. Let that sink in for just a moment: 3.9% attrition rate. Let’s compare that with other loss rates:
2013 Voluntary Turnover By Industry:
Hospitality – 18.2%
Banking & Finance – 12.8%
Healthcare – 12.5%
Non-profit – 11%
Services – 11%
Manufacturing & Distribution – 8.4%
Insurance – 6.8%
Utilities – 5.2%
What conclusions might we draw from this? Dr. Fort’s original tweet offers some insight: recruit carefully, deploy strategically, train intensely, support carefully. I’ll take the liberty of unpacking his thoughts for him; he’s a busy man, don’t you know.
Recruitment is more than “y’all come.” The perfect IMB candidate is called. She is spiritually healthy. He is emotionally mature. They care for their health, their souls, and their relationships with others. They possess a clear-eyed view of the task before them, even if they cannot anticipate all the twists and turns.
Placing people on the field is a task which boggles the mind; the home office has an entire department to match the right candidate with the best possible working situation, location, and role. One might suspect the process remains more of an art than a science, seeing as how it takes into account people groups, gifting, skill sets. emotional make-up, personality type, and family size. The payoff, though, is a workforce that is optimally placed for long-term work and success.
The last time I checked, new worker orientation required an 8-week stay at the company’s training site. New workers arrive on the field for more orientation, more mentoring, more learning. Annual goals center not only one how you’ll advance the Kingdom’s work, but also on how you’ve improved as a team player, a family member, a representative of the SBC, and more. More than ever, IMB teaches and trains and requires new workers to learn and grow.
For many folks, notions of support seem to center on finance, and rightfully so. IMB financially supports their workers and their work, and does so in a way that fits the SBC’s expectations for wisdom and accountability. Support only begins at finance though; missionary families with children on the field get informational support for the kids’ schooling, the kind of data a school district employee might offer. Singles received the backstopping they need. Stressed spouses have multiple avenues to relieve and evaluate their frustrations. Spiritual renewal, prayer support, and regular encouragement make appearances with great regularity, as a general rule. A well-supported worker is one who knows he’s valued, and that’s sufficient to overcome a good many difficult moments.
So the next time someone tells you of low morale, or high turnover, or problems in the organization, look back at this sort of thing. Sure, there’s likely more to the picture than simply loss rates. Yeah, it’s possible to ask more questions and arrive at a slightly different answer. Even so, 3.9% is pretty darn good.
Now – if only a new president were in office.