Sunday, November 30, 2014

Can we combat attrition

When we wander in the humongous land of Google, we come across numerous definitions and meanings of the word attrition. Amusingly it is extensively used in the fields of warfare, medicine, geology, language etc. The one apt to our context is that the attrition is the measure of number of employees moving out of an organization during a specific period of time. A classic example would be the case of Wipro, one of the top IT companies in India. In 2014 Wipro witnessed an attrition level of 17% and employees with 5-6 years of work experience recorded the highest in this category. So, how did Wipro combat this situation?
Well, like the famous quotation “solution lies within the problem”. The crux of this solution was with the employees itself. Thus, came the “NOTCH UP” one of the biggest employee retention initiatives.
Most of the employees are opting for higher studies after acquiring 5-6 years of work experience. To minimize this trend Wipro is now offering employees with more than 2 years of experience in the company a chance to pursue higher studies at Pune based Symbiosis, Pilani's Birla Institute of Technology and Science or VIT University in Vellore. It has also partnered with ICFA to offer two year professional accounting programme. The organization is anticipating positive results in retaining the talent. The fee structure has been worked out between the colleges and Wipro. The fee would be reimbursed to students depending on their scores.
Some popular reasons for high attrition levels are better opportunities in the industry, poor job prospectus, lack of acknowledgement, poor working conditions, autocratic management, less challenging work etc.
Another example is the case of Infosys. Infosys has seen an attrition level of 19.5% in 2014. Henceforth, they have given 6-7% hike in the salaries and promotions to around 5000 employees to improve retention levels.
Hence, critical aspects for reducing attrition levels are employee satisfaction, better career growth opportunities, manager’s support and consideration, qualitative company culture, trust in leadership, job autonomy last but not the least good team dynamics.


Don’t worry, we’ll be fine...

Employers must put contingency plans in place to minimize disruptions if top-level managers leave. Knowing why a senior executive has resigned can help employers prevent or prepare for similar exits in future. 

This article looks at five more:
·         Poor communication
Clear and consistent communication between the senior management team ensures senior executives are fully involved within a business.
Without this, they are likely to feel excluded, undervalued and lack the confidence to make suggestions to company management.
Poor communication can also cause feelings of insecurity and paranoia about their position within the business, all of which can lead top-level managers to consider moving on.
By involving them in key decision-making from day one and valuing their opinions, employers are more likely to make senior executives feel part of the senior management team and businesses are more likely to retain them.
·         Company direction
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses are under constant pressure to re-evaluate their strategy and direction. This can create problems for senior management.
Over time, some executives may become detached from the route that the organisation is heading in, while those who are prepared to run with the change — but who lack the support to bring it about — are likely to become frustrated.
Either way, it is difficult for executives with differing beliefs from the rest of the company to justify remaining with the business.
In these circumstances, effective communication between executives and management can ensure both sides are fully aware of the facts before either makes a rash decision.
·         Dilution of company brand
To be successful, senior management must believe in the fundamental brand values of the business.
As companies and their brands evolve over time, executives need to buy into this change. However, some may be unable or unwilling to do this.
For example, a senior executive may have little belief in a new product or service or may not have the appetite required to rebuild a diminished brand.
Although it depends on the exact circumstances of the situation, this may be a sensible time to part ways.
·         Loss of company support
A senior executive who loses the support of the company — be it through internal or external politics, change in company direction, communication difficulties or under performance of the company — will find regaining it difficult.
Even if he is able to develop a solution for the bigger problem, he will be unable to push this through without the full and committed backing of the board and company as a whole.
Losing company support is a particularly common problem for senior executives at public-listed companies, which need to take shareholder opinion into account.
·         Personal circumstances
Personal circumstances can be the primary motivation for a senior executive to consider leaving his position.
Senior managers may decide against moving as part of a wider company relocation.
Executives who look for new positions may want a shorter commute to work, or to spend less time travelling on business.
Family commitments are often pivotal to their decision. In the right circumstances, businesses have allowed executives to carry out a suitable portion of their working week from home to retain them.
Long- or short-term illness can also be a difficult barrier to overcome.
In these circumstances, some businesses have employed affected executives in smaller advisory roles so that they can continue to contribute their expertise and experience, while at the same time reducing their personal commitment.
·         Explore options
The success of a senior executive is aligned with the wider success of a company — depending on circumstances, his resignation may or may not therefore be welcomed by the business.
If it is not, senior management should carefully consider the cause of resignation and explore the options available.
Where appropriate, improved remuneration packages, greater opportunities for career progression and demonstrating a reasonable understanding for individual personal circumstances can all persuade executives to stay.
Where senior managers are not prepared to reconsider, the business does not need to suffer.
Most organisations realize that the best executives are ambitious and are likely to seek new challenges in time.
Employers who prepare for these circumstances and put contingency plans in place are unlikely to experience too much disruption when a senior member of the staff leaves.
A parting of ways may sometimes be in the best interest of both parties.

For example, if an executive does not agree with a company’s change in direction or branding strategy or has lost the support of the organisation, a new appointment may be more willing and better suited to driving the business forward.

Best workplaces are 'female-friendly'

Just what makes a workplace great?
The answer is more elusive than you might think, given that more people are versed in the dysfunctional work environment than in the truly exceptional workplace. Fortunately, the research consultancy that produces Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For rankings - the Great Place to Work Institute - knows a thing or two about what builds trust and engagement among workers.
What stands out on this year's list, published last week - software provider SAS took top place - is that many of the firms picked represent 'female-friendly' workplaces. Groups not typically found in the highest ranks, such as minorities and women, tend to be more visible in these environments. Furthermore, these organisations bend and adapt to their employee base - they do not ask their staff to conform to the corporate 'way'.
So what else is key to their success?
Among other things, their work-life policies are stigma-free.
Take one firm's well-intentioned policy. A part-time partnership track was carved out, allowing top performers to assume more responsibility while simultaneously cutting down hours. The problem? Only women took advantage of the benefit. The result was that, companywide, part-time partners found they were not taken all that seriously.
The best workplaces offer work-life accommodations that all employees are encouraged to use - top-down and bottom-up - including sabbaticals, compressed work weeks, remote working and job sharing. It is understood at leading companies that the wide adoption of benefits long considered mainly for women helps the workforce at large.
Top-ranking firms also have zero tolerance for unfairness.
In their new book, The Great Workplace, Dr Michael Burchell and Dr Jennifer Robin note the strong message sent by SC Johnson, a company that institutes real consequences for unfair treatment. If the consumer products company sees prejudiced judgment, it handles the problem swiftly by not tolerating such behaviour at all.
In addition, top firms that truly care about fairness provide an appeals process that allows grievances to be addressed.
Dr Burchell and Dr Robin point out this best practice at American Express, where the office of the ombudsman acts as 'a confidential and neutral resource where employees can seek guidance without fear of retribution'.
Taking a stand on equitable treatment can be particularly important for women, some of whom have sounded their grievances only to be ignored, sidelined or even fired. Industries dominated by males can take a page from this book, and recognise that filing complaints about unfair treatment often results in a more harrowing experience than the initial harassment or abuse.
Last but not least, firms that provide the best workplaces acknowledge the power of the unspoken.
Kraft, a company acknowledged for its diversity policies, understands that not all success criteria are spelt out for new employees. Its Jump Start programme offers new staff an orientation in the unwritten rules and strategies for succeeding in the corporate culture. The programme is designed to help collapse the learning curve in terms of how to build influence, find mentors and maintain strong relationships.
Other companies could benefit from adopting this practice, helping those not in the key power constituency by sharing the secret rules of the game.

In the end, employer and employee need only follow a simple formula: Commit to my long-term success, I commit to yours.