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Lord Sugar, The Apprentice and the cost of staff turnover

December 21, 2010

While several million people were transfixed as Lord Sugar chose his sixth apprentice at the weekend, it’s worth asking if the ‘world’s toughest job interview’ even works.

Lord Sugar and Stella English

In the pasts Lord Sugar not been able to keep hold of his 'top' performers. Will this time be any different?

Of the five apprentices ‘hired’ so far, none of them currently works with Lord Sugar! Tim Campbell the first apprentice left after two years, Michelle Dewbury lasted only 11 months in the company. The 2007 winner Simon Ambrose resigned to set up his own business, Lee McQueen won the 2008 show only to quit after little more than a year and the 2009 winner Yasmina Siadatan is now a busy new mum.

So as this year’s winner Stella English lands her dream job, one has to hope the dream doesn’t become a nightmare forcing her to go in search of pastures new. Lord Sugar would do well to spend some time exploring why so many of these high flyers have flown his nest. With recruitment and retraining costs often adding up to the equivalent of an employee’s salary this level of high staff turnover is hardly the mark of a sound business.

In fact the failure of UK companies to retain competent members of staff is costing them a total of £42bn a year, according to a recent report. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in their October 2010 report, confirmed that the cost of replacing such a worker equates to about a year of their salary. It added that the costs included those associated with the lost skills and productivity of the worker, plus having to find and train new recruits.

“Companies often vastly underestimate the financial benefits of retaining existing employees,” said Richard Phelps, human resource services partner at PwC. “With many businesses eager to maintain or grow staff levels as the economy starts to recover, it is crucial they consider the full costs of losing staff through resignation.”

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