Friday, 18 April 2014

Managing the malice of attrition


Organizations are increasingly worried about attrition these days. The best companies in Indian context still manage around 10% healthy attrition, while mediocre and poorly managed companies range between 10-30% attrition. The problem is even worse where employee attrition is high within few months or first year of on boarding.
 
The question is why people leave. Any one in his sane mind would feel at least a bit of natural affinity to his or her work and peers unless the situation is extremely bad. People do not make up their mind to quit very easily lest they have landed into a completely wrong job by accident which is a rare possibility.
 
Conventional wisdom says people leave their supervisors. My point is, whether it is fair to blame all of it on them. I would argue that there are many other triggers to the decision to leave. I have had an insight into companies that hire aggressively without a clear job description, a should do and must do document at the point of entry. I even know of organizations that do not open the real designation or assignment they are going to assign to a new joined unless he is on board and inducted in the system. The subsequent damage is caused when induction process is not taken seriously and huge burden of expectation is loaded to the new joined. Such companies become hunting ground for employment agencies that keep churning candidates and garnering commissions.
 
In my previous blog, I did write about the 3E conundrum, and that holds relevance to this issue too. The HR practice due to its immeasurability is just running after timelines to keep the recruitment's rolling and never gets empowered to be one potent force in keeping a check on attrition and its sources.
 
Legacy in organizations worsen the environment where the 'deep rooted’, 'seasoned veterans' resist and reject new thinking, and in the process, the new colleagues. The group dynamics in the organizations lead to dysfunctional stress, grapevine and distrust. Most surprising is the fact that for year together, top managements do not take cognizance of attrition, and take HR as one obligatory function to showcase their concern for people, or conforming to compliance.
 
I was seriously shocked to see a client of mine sitting on a 26% attrition, struggling to analyze the reasons for it through exit interview forms, that were never filled seriously and exiting employees never cited reasons beyond 'Personal' , 'better opportunity' or only in few 'compensation' reasons. The HR system and supervisors was never sensitive to probe into reasons as 'People come and go' was a common belief system in the organization where nearly one fourth of the organization was churning every year. Even the top management and HR directors kept wondering in absence to 'real feedback', as to how to control it to desirable levels.
 
To add to the woes was the bad word exiting employees spread about the non caring attitude of the company, damaging its long term ability to attract talent.
 
Both at organizational and managerial levels, sensitivity to people is utmost important awareness and quotient for 'emotional intelligence' is one area that requires consistent coaching effort to build sustainable , talent friendly, and fertile culture that helps innovation and growth. Sooner than later, it is advisable that organizations act on this, and fast.

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