Arresting attrition

Updated: Jan 20 2007, 05:30am hrs
What do you think would be the reason for the high attrition that we are facing An experienced head of HR of a large telecom company asked me that recently. I know the attrition rate is around 35% and thats high. I also know that the organisation pays well, at least better than competitors. I have not done a diagnostic study yet but this question made me wonder what people really want from their jobs and what made them change jobs. While what people want from work is situational, depending on the person, needs and the rewards that are meaningful, there are certain things that we can generalise.

What people want:

* Control of their work: people would love the ability to impact decisions; set clear and measurable goals; have clear responsibility for a complete, or at least defined, task.

* Inclusion: receiving timely information and communication; understanding managements formulae for decision making; team and meeting participation opportunities.

* Opportunity for growth and development: education and training; clear career paths; team participation; opportunity to learn new things.

* Personal touch: people want to feel that they belong to a group; a personal touch in communication, warmth and a friendly atmosphere will make many comfortable.

While none of these insights are new, the fact is that growing organisations at times find it difficult to manage growth and human processes with equal importance. The focus on business growth and tasks often receives more attention, while people and cultural issues take a back seat.

What pulls people down:

The feeling of helplessness shared by many people in their organisation is a major contributor to low organisational morale. Here are some of the common causes:

* Forces beyond our control: mergers and acquisitions; constantly changing plans; organistional power games; bureaucratic decisions; new technologies; competition; and boom/bust cycles are some of the things that make people feel helpless.

* Nobody ever tells us anything: in a world overflowing with information, most organistions have little open and transparent communication; us against hem rumours attempt to explain whats going on and why. Timely communication can ease a lot of tension during change, but most of the time people are caught off-guard.

* The perception of fairness and equitable treatment: Many a time employees feel that someone who is less experienced is getting more money than them. This makes them feel unwanted and now they are looking for an opportunity to quit.

Exit interviews can be a great source of information on why people leave. But in reality, many people do not want to say they are quitting because you did not treat them well. They might not also like to say that the reason for leaving is the I do not care attitude of their manager.

Instead, many may say that the reason for quitting is an offer that is giving them a better salary or a higher designation. If they do not have a job in hand, they may say they are taking a sabbatical. This way they are protecting their ego and self esteem.

The writer is managing director, Training Alternatives