How to break a vicious circle?

A friend came for dinner yesterday. He is working for a fast growing company. The Asian division is facing a classic problem. Staff turnover is high, above 25% per year. The labor market for young graduates is difficult. The work the company is doing is nice but not very sexy. They hire what they can, but compromise on quality, as the work has to be done. As not all the new people are A-level, the training and onboarding of the new people takes longer. As the work has to be done, people have to work long hours and overtime. For training not directly related to the work at hand, there is no time. Managers are pushing the people to the limits. Clients are starting to complain. The work needs to be finished! The managers promise a better future, but nothing changes. People who do a good job, are kept on that job, as they do it so well. Not all employees are happy, and some start to look for another job. Staff turnover stays at the high level.


The assignment of my friend: break the vicious circle, but of course the work need to be done. While eating a steak tartare, we explored the possibilities. High on our list: start with the selection process. Although it is tempting to lower the selection criteria, the opposite should happen: the selection should be tougher. Without A-level graduates, it will be difficult to tackle other areas that will together turn the vicious circle into a virtuous circle.
What would be your #1 and #2 interventions?

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