17.3.08

Best Practice - Fight attrition the old fashioned way...

I shouldn't complain about golden handcuffs. A few times in my career I have been the direct and material beneficiary of retention and compensation policies that "pay to stay."

But I'll speak sacrilege, and state my belief:

Golden handcuffs do not solve attrition problems, they merely mask them.

Think about it -- do you really want someone as part of your team or company if they are only staying because there's so much money on the line? Do you really think they'll do their best - for you, for your product, for your team - if their mindset starts and stops with their "walk-away" value?

There is a better way to fight attrition:

Create something that's cool to be a part of.

There's a decent article here, that talks about why employees quit their jobs. To sum it up, they don't quit their jobs. They quit their bosses. If you read the reasons, and think about the atmosphere they describe, you can come up with a few traits that would describe the antithesis - a job that's cool to have, and a company that's cool to work for:
  • Employees are valued
  • Employees aren't viewed as commodities
  • Employees are treated fairly
  • Employees aren't deceived or lied to
  • Employees understand what's expected of them
Here's the actionable advice:
  • Eschew compensation-based retention strategies. Pay your people fairly. If you can afford to, pay them more than fairly.
  • Make sure "management" knows their role in retention. Make them understand that people quit their bosses more often than they quit their jobs.
  • Make a workplace that's cool and fun to be a part of. Make it such that people like their jobs.
    • Do this for your "local" teams, as a matter of course.
    • Do this for your remote contract teams too, if you want them to be effective.
  • When someone does quit, make sure that you figure out why. When an employee quits, have a manager out of their chain of command conduct an exit interview. Figure out the root cause for the attrition. Watch for patterns. Maybe you have a bad manager who demeans his staff. Maybe you have an indifferent manager who doesn't recognize or reward her team's good work.
  • Address the root cause, not the symptom. Fix the managers if you want to fix your attrition problems.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've been at the current organization that I've been working for - for about 41/2 years now. I'm a quiet individual who works very hard. Self praise is no recommendation but this is the truth. I think I'm being punished via attrition because of the way that I express myself. I express myself the way that I do, not to impress, but this is just the way I impart my ideas or sentiments, and I can see how my words may be misconstrued as such (though this assumption is subjective on the part of some and does not make it right).

I was told by one my co-worker that I try to seem intelligent because I'm always using big words. My manager always parse my words - and parse is really an understatement here. I don't know if she feels threatened by me. And honestly, I do not think she has a reason to feel that way. Nevertheless, I've been getting above-average evaluations. So I became very pensive about why she, my supervisor would be giving me such a hard time and the aforementioned reason is the only thing that I can come up with - so to speak.

Not only does she parse my words but she also tries to embarrass me by snapping at me if I ask a question. The things she will reprimand me for she does not do it with the other employees. And the list goes on.

So my objective here is not really so much as to post a comment as it is to ask a question: What's or what are the best way(s) to deal with attrition. Thanks.

Tom Hickman said...

Couple of things here... for starters, this is an old post, and these comments will likely not be anything anyone sees unless they read Inside Outsource via an RSS feed. But...

People generally quit their jobs because of their boss. I recently coached a good friend to stay in a bad job because, ultimately, it was likely that his very bad boss would not last forever.

I won't give the same advice here, and in fact won't give any advice, since Anonymous is a stranger. But I'll say as a general rule that this kind of behavior (the boss's) stinks, and should not be tolerated in organizations. I don't know the particulars of this organization, or even what country this is happening in, but sometimes HR organizations can help. Sometimes "skip levels" with the boss's boss can help. Sometimes confronting the situation can help. And sometimes waiting can help. This all probably labors the obvious, but I thought it would be worth at least listing the coping mechanisms I've seen used in these kinds of situations. Either way, Good Luck anonymous. Hope things get better.