How one company reduced employee turnover by over 80 percent


One of the biggest costs to any business is employee turnover. Regardless of the industry, there is a significant cost to losing employees (often to competitors), recruiting potential new employees, screening, testing and evaluating  the applicants, conducting multiple interviews, making job offers and sometimes counter-offers, onboarding new hires, and often many months of training.

This doesn’t take into account the lost productivity or missed opportunity costs of having an empty seat in your facility. Nor does it take into account the impact on a company’s legacy and culture. According to, calculations can easily reach 150 percent of the employee’s annual compensation figure.

To put this into perspective, let’s assume the average salary of employees in a given company is $50,000 per year. Taking the cost of turnover at 150 percent of salary, the expense would be $75,000 per departing employee.

Often times CEOs and Human Resource Managers think that the best way to fix the turnover problem is by throwing more money at the employees. But what if you weren’t able to offer 15 percent raises?

Instead, what if companies gave their employees a better Employee Experience?

AppleTree Answers is a company that provides telephone answering services for other businesses such as doctor’s offices after hours. The average turnover rate within the call center industry is over 125 percent. AppleTree Answers was running over 100 percent. Essentially, they are always hiring.

Appletree Answers CEO John Ratliff wondered if he could cut the turnover rate in half, and whether that would increase the quality of the service provided as well as improve the bottom line? Instead of offering to pay his employees more money per hour, Ratliff decided instead to drive the Employee Experience of working at AppleTree Answers. He did this by adopting the Make-A-Wish charity model for his employees. He created the Dream On program, whereby employees submit a dream they have via email to Ratliff and his team, and they grant one employee’s wish on a weekly or monthly basis.

To date, AppleTree Answers has granted over 100 wishes to its employees. Some of the dreams that have been granted include:

– A Disneyland Princess makeover for an employee’s young daughter

– A trip to Jamaica for an employee and his terminally ill mother

– A dream honeymoon for an employee and her spouse

– A trip to an NFL game for an employee and her husband, who at the time was diagnosed with inoperable cancer

The employees at AppleTree Answers report that the Dream On program has given them experiences that they will remember forever. The woman who took her husband to the NFL game reports his cancer is now in remission. Ratliff believes his legacy as CEO of Appletree Answers should be to “get involved in bettering the lives of employees. We exist as CEOs to serve the people that help us,” he says.

How has the Dream On program impacted turnover at AppleTree Answers? As of April 2012, Ratliff reported turnover was down to 27 percent — an astounding decline in an industry that averages triple digits. But the goodwill Ratliff has created amongst his employees is impossible to calculate.

To learn more about Appletree Answers and its Make-A-Wish employee offering, please copy and paste the video links below: