Engaging today’s employees – Managing Attrition
I have just come out of yet another corporate HR Review in which Attrition/Retention figures were shared. And leadership once again reaffirmed their expectations and concerns regarding the high percentages. HR once again promised to work on them.
I am sure the HR folks have the usual internal dialog going, about how Attrition is not going to be controlled unless line managers own their role in the process. And I am sure line managers are wondering why HR doesn’t do more to stem the tide!
Thanks to the slowdown attrition went down, but now with things picking up, the percentages are going up.
So what does this tell you?
I personally think we need to relook at this issue. I think the corporate world has been in denial way too long, and needs to move to acceptance. Wake up people! or should I say Wise up!
The world we live in has changed. Value systems have changed. The way people conceive a career and look at their jobs has changed.
Sure we should continue to look at employee engagement, morale, culture, environment etc. But what each of these terms MEANS to an employee of today, are different from what it meant before.
I was recently speaking at a round table and spoke about Gen Y‘ers, when one of the audience said something that made a lot of sense to me. He must have been 50+, but he said, we’re ALL Gen Y’ers. And the moment he said it, I knew he had said something important.
We’re all spoiled for choice today. We’re all getting used to twitter and bite sized conversation, with a desire for quick bit of information/entertainment, wherever we are. Technology has yet again influenced our society, just as it always has before.
So I ask you, what keeps an employee engaged today? Change. Doing different things. A majority of us want to be doing something different every once in a while. We get bored with routine.
Movies are shorter. The dramatic pauses, long dramatic sequences are a thing of the past. The editing is slick, and we move frame to frame with rapidity. Music is getting a similar treatement, as are our newspapers and other information media.
Employees no longer see long term careers with organizations. They would like to do their bit, add value, do something exciting, learn something new and then they start looking for a new challenge.
In this scenario as organizations struggle to improve retention figures, there are 2 ways to handle this issue.
1. Accept that attrition has become a part of life. Have processes and talent pipelines in place. Organizations which have effective incumbency and fresh talent pipelines in place, don’t have too much of a problem with attrition. They have a talent engine which ensures a regular supply of manpower almost JIT.
2. Change the outlook on engagement. The new world employee, which is you and me and the others, wants to have continuous challenge thrown her way. Build this into your processes. Find ways to job rotate talent. Those you can’t, ensure they get into Cross functional teams, or are exposed to new experiences/learning in other ways. If you can’t change their job, change their location. Or the team in which they work.
3. Change your outlook from employee citizenship to employee tenancy. Understand that they’re here for 3-5 years, and treat them differently, reorient systems, policies around tenancy instead of citizenship. Already organizations are walking away from Gratuity as part of CTC. Most employees would prefer it to be monetized today. Similarly, what other processes can we tweak, remake? Is a good question.
Only organizations that are growing at a decent pace, will be able to do the above. Stagnant organizations, slow moving organizations will see a steady drain of top talent.
Most organizations are today providing world class work environments, compensation plans are getting so standardized, that they’re not a differentiator any more. You can only outpay the competition so long. Most organizations are putting in place robust and standardized HR processes and policies. Where then do the differentiators lie?
1. As above – Build Talent management processes and Change the outlook on engagement
2. Truly, with line management – The one thing that CANNOT be copied is how well supervisors manage their people. If you can get this in place, then you’re in good shape.
If I were you, I would be asking myself, what does my workforce need in order to be engaged? Am I giving them what they want, or what I think they want?
The problem with Employee Engagement surveys – you only get answers to the questions you ask. You ask about work environment, they’ll tell you. You ask about leadership, they’ll tell you. What you’re missing out on, are the questions you are not asking!
Run the survey, but make sure you have a system that generates open free-wheeling dialogs, these will lead to insight into areas unexplored, and that’s the differentiator!
Lastly, a process that most organizations have not yet opened up to, but which my good friend, and global HR head, Prameela, pioneered. She calls it the Boomerang. By which she means putting in place processes that ensure Returns of employees who attrite. A process that tags a bungee cord to an employee upon exit, almost an umbilical, which is active and keeps a connect, so that when the employee is ready for another change, which she will be, she will consider a Return.
If we could start measuring Returns, and have a process to raise the number of returns, there is a significant benefit to be derived:
1. Instant culture fit
2. Ready ability and knowledge of the political scenario and minefields
3. Half-ready network of allies
These guys hit the ground running, and how!
So when are you going to devise a Boomerang process for your organization?
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