Managing high-turnover, unpleasant work

There’s a bunch of work that I see that needs to be done, yet can’t really be done well by untrained staff. One example is certain types of data entry, like entering the terms of a reinsurance submission into a database open receipt from a broker. It’s not a good idea to just hire a random unskilled person who knows nothing about re/insurance because they make mistakes, pretty bad ones, so you have to train them. The problem is, once trained, people usually want to do something more interesting. The strategy I have seen used most often is to pass the hot potato to the most recent grad.

Another option is to pay more so people stay, but I suspect the work is so dull that no matter how much you pay, people still won’t want to do it long term. Or maybe I’m wrong about this and there is a point where skilled people who would otherwise be better at other things would happily do the work, a very high point, perhaps.

Automation is another thought, but that would require changes to the way other parties do things that you cannot control, like the way in which other client companies send you information.

Maybe one option is to hire people close to retirement or coming out of retirement who don’t desire upward mobility and are just looking for things to do. This is my preferred option so far, because they have enough experience to do the job well.

Another option is to just accept the turnover and to keep retraining the data entry people, but that leads to pretty mediocre results, I think.

What do?

Depends on the quantity of work, maybe. Is it something that can be spread across the department? Something that might be a nightmare job full-time is just a not-fun part of your regular job if you only do it 1/2 or 1 day a week. Plus, that gives you instant cross training and capacity for high-volume periods.

Find another position that also can be filled by unskilled workers that can be trained and combine that role and this one. It splits the drudge work in half for the person with your role and gives a break to the other role as well. Now you have two people who are cross trained in two roles, feel they have more responsibility, and you have a backup for the more important tasks if on of them leaves.

That being said, there are people out there who like to just come in and do their job and then go home. I’ve worked with plenty of people over the years who do not desire advancement. You still need to give them pay raises and make them feel needed though. Even for boring data entry jobs there are people who would be happy to do it. On the flip side, things like data entry are good training opportunities for recent grads. I know I learned a lot about my industry from doing the boring maintenance work back in the day. The work is important and foundational. It doesn’t matter how well a product is priced if your system can’t actually bill for it. It’s not quite the same thing, but I know people who have done rate implementation for like thirty years and been quite happy with it. Sometimes a job is what you make of it. So I think the advice here is, don’t hire a go-getter.

u could outsource it

there’s always a price that people would stay for.

I for one, would love to do dull data entry jobs for my current salary * 1.5


You say that but I bet after 6 months you’d be over the money.

I think Snake had it exactly right when you combine it with other tasks so it’s not a full job. Think of any entry level actuarial job, it’s occasional interesting stuff and a lot of just dull stuff. If you dropped all the interesting stuff then you’d have people leaving the minute they had enough experience.

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It bottles the mind how some menial tasks, wherein a mistake could mean six figures of lost revenue, is left to noobs. I’m with John.S.Mill, if you pay me enough money I will stick around. If I get bored to tears I will wipe them away with hundies.


Did the game of id’ing an eggcorn continue here? Do we have a grover emoji? At least that’s what i thought was used.

I should have renamed the title of this thread to “high-stakes data entry”

I think there are people who would do that type of work, but you’ll have to pay for quality.


There are people who like to do things right, and know that they are doing a good job. There are people who aren’t super ambitious, and want to go home to their friends and families and not worry about work. If you find these people, train them appropriately so they succeed, and give them decent compensation and appreciation, you can retain them.

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This is me. Except I also like money. What a dilemma.

Get the brooms!!!