Focusing on Attrition Reduction? Retain What You Want!
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Focusing on Attrition Reduction? Retain What You Want!

by Ashok Grover

Are you happy with low attrition rate in your orgnization? What else do you want? Perhaps, it is the time to pause for a while and think! Think that as an organization, what are you developing and retaining, rather than from the standpoint of curbing high attrition.

On the face of it, the message may appear to be for the business leaders and HR professionals; it would be interesting and relevant to all.

Sometimes, I am bogged down by the sheer number of complaints about the dearth of suitable employees. Well, if you too are caught in the web of non-availability of the right people for your organization and at the same time, having a tough time retaining talent, pause for a while and think! Think that as an organization, what are you developing and retaining, rather than from the standpoint of curbing high attrition.

Even if you have decided to throw money to retain people, the going may not be easy. The fact remains that you can buy people, but it does not ensure that you can keep them! All of those who have stuck with you for very long may not be because of loyalty. (Even if it was so, does it serve your purpose?) May be a good portion of your team is rusted junk, not able to move anywhere and you might be rewarding them for their loyalty! Oversimplification of the problem is the common myth that employees value only money. This approach leads to periodical readjustment of this so-called loyal lot, who in any case are not going to leave. The bottom line, talent you brought in did not stay, while you retained deadwood with increased cost.

You must be thinking what a complicated story I have weaved in. No way am I going to leave this problem on your head. Let us look for the solution.

Consider the case of a loyal employee you have, who works at 50% of the required level. You hire a new one at 30% higher cost, since good people are just not available. This new person, though a perfect fit, does not stay for long. After trying may be twice, you raise the package of this loyal employee by 15-20% because now only he is going to run the show. After all, he has been running the show... Very common situation, no? But certainly not the most desirable!

So, what is the solution? Attempt to know the real market conditions through initiatives like compensation benchmarking surveys. If you are paying your employees reasonably well, be transparent and share with them some relevant facts from your actual findings. If not, make necessary corrections. Side by side, equally important is to evaluate people regularly. Once employees understand the organization's expectations, there are fewer chances of discontentment and more focused efforts to raise their level of performance.

Attrition is an essential part of the organization's journey. Do not ever aim for zero attrition. Let there be some attrition by design also! If you open only one window, talent might come in and go out through the same, leaving stale corners untouched. Instead of letting that happen, take charge, make decisions and let there be cross ventilation. No corner for stale deadwood! What would be the result? A healthy organization, of course!

Ashok Grover is an expert in people assessment and focused executive / leadership coaching. He is Director at Skillscape, a company with a vision of Value Creation by enhancing people and organizational competencies.

His last assignment was with the JBM Group as Corporate Chief Human Resource Officer. He has over four decades of experience in operations, materials, information technology and people development with Parle Group, Mohan Meakins Group, Hawkins Cookers Limited and JBM Group.
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