“For many people a job is more than an income – it’s an important part of who we are. So a career transition of any sort is one of the most unsettling experiences you can face in your life” Paul Clitheroe

There is a very high cost of attrition as lot of time, effort and energy is invested in bringing the employee on board, assimilation and integration with company culture, values and nuances. Simply put, it could be minimum 3 time cost of their annual compensation.

Despite such a high cost, still we as HR Professional continue to behave like any other department. In the fast changing business landscape, HR role is not of policing or personnel administration, however, expectation from HR is to play a strategic business partner role as success of companies depend on its human capital and leveraging of its potential.

1. Build people skills of middle management : A whole lot of time and efforts are spent in organization doing attrition analysis and in understanding key reasons of attrition, however, majority of times across industry / organizations, 3 key stated reasons emerges despite granular analysis : –

  • Career Opportunity
  • Compensation
  • Personal Reason

However, when you get into details and peel the onion, un-stated reasons starts appearing and most of time the reason has to do with lack of opportunity for capability building, emotional turmoil, lack of job satisfaction, respect at work, dis-satisfaction with Manager etc.

It is a acceptable fact in the Industry that 80% of employee leave their Managers instead of their organisation. In spite of this fact, in the Industry, we continue to promote people for their operating skills and then make them in-charge as Team Leader / Asst. Manager while aligning career of 8-10 associate with them as Managers. However, do not spend time upfront in developing new managers people skills. They continue to do what make them successful so far – INDIVIDUAL EXCELENCE which brought them here, however, will not make them successful in their new jobs.

It is a high time that we start paying attention to developing people management skills of our Managers.

2. Focus on Capability building and creating an eco system where people development is at the fore-fornt of leadership mindset. While it is difficult to stop attrition completely, however, by focusing on building people capability, you can make the “PULL” factor by competitors difficult.

3. Communication on Compensation & Benefits – Majority of organisations fail to position their compensation philosophy / benchmarking / structure and thus fails to leverage the advantage vis-a-vis their competitors. This is 1 factor that could make PULL difficult from your competitors – however, instead of making it difficult, we rather help in PUSH. We must go beyond salary communication at the time of recruitment negotiations and communicate periodically about benefits that includes other than salary i.e. Group Medi-claim Insurance Scheme, Personal Accident Insurance Scheme, Company Leased Accommodation, Recreation, Cafeteria, ATM, gym and Concierge facilities; Personal Health Care (Regular medical check-ups), Loans etc. Make your compensation framework transparent and do not shy away from having an interaction with employees on broader contours of your compensation approach.

4. Engage employees over & beyond their day to day job and ensure that their insecurities and vulnerabilities are addressed appropriately and timely through various programs and practices which could be designed keeping in view organization context and requirements. Leveraging operating employees to partner with human resource team through a well defined program can go a long way.

5. Provide Growth Opportunities and communicate about them. Majority of companies do provide Growth opportunities, however, fail to leverage due to lack of communication on this front.

6. Managing expectation of employees is a key. Let top Managers / Leaders step out of their comfort zone and assimilate with employees and right align their expectations. New Millennial want to grow fast and it is essential that they are coached in right earnestness. The fact is 80-90% people remain at staff level, 4-7% in Middle Management & 2-3% at Top Management. It is essential that we align our employees and emphasize on the inevitability of building competencies / capabilities rather than having a single minded focus on vertical growth. It is OK to not get a promotion but to deserve it, rather than getting it while you do not deserve.

Poaching of employees by competitors for higher salaries drives them to change jobs. However, working on employee capability building and fairly compensating them while stressing upon the fact that employee needs to dig deep at least at 1 place to belong to Top Leadership as both depth and breadth are key to senior leadership positions helps make pull from competition a tad difficult.

7. Provide opportunities for skill up-gradation through training intervention or internal job assignment / movement.

8. Career Pathing plays a key role. It would serve the purpose if all employees who have spent > 18-24 months in the system are pro-actively spoken and asked for their career preferences to bring about a spark and end Monotony of work

9. Creating Training Academies with in and also do tie up with institutions. Create Sabbatical policy so that those employee who wants to pursue higher education can do so without leaving their job.

10. Effectiveness of Reward & Recognition – work hard and party harder is the mantra in IT/ITES industry. Celebrating success is a key. Strong reward & recognition framework keeping in view the context and levels also plays a critical role in employee retention.

In addition to the above, it is important that people at leadership level stop doing paralysis of analysis. The time and effort that I have seen goes in making power point presentation on attrition, could be well utilised by making leadership step out of their comfort zone (cabins ) and share their experiential learning’s which shall help not only in people development, however, at the same time will help create a “psychological contract” which is essential for retention in competitive business landscape in a fast developing economy.


Raj Gupta is an author, speaker and Award winning HR leader with 25 years of experience with US, UK, Europe and Indian multinationals.