Employee attrition
Employer, People + Culture

Experiencing an employee attrition spike? Here’s how to hang on to great people

Find out what will have the biggest change on your team’s tenures.

Are you seeing a steep uptick in employee attrition? Scheduling more exit interviews than you’d like? Here we look at what factors could be contributing to an employee attrition spike as well as proactive strategies for managers to retain valuable employees.

Employee attrition vs employee turnover

First, let’s address the difference between employee attrition rates and turnover.

Turnover considers all terminations, including positions that are refilled, while attrition includes long-term vacancies and retrenched positions.

A company with a high turnover could still be growing and successful, given they are refilling any positions that become vacant. However, a business with high employee attrition will be shrinking in size as they are unable to replace leaving staff members. This is usually a sign of trouble suggesting the business is on a downturn.

Writing a blog on the laptop about employee attrition

Employee attrition and the market

Reasons for employee attrition can be broadly grouped under three categories:

  • Involuntary, like lay-offs.
  • Retirement.
  • Voluntary.

Voluntary attrition is the most problematic for a business as it usually suggests there is something in the workplace causing employees to leave.

Things that cause voluntary attrition include:

  • Low job satisfaction.
  • Low pay.
  • Lack of career opportunities.
  • Toxic workplace culture.
  • Poor management.
  • Inflexible work arrangements.
  • Not feeling a sense of belonging.

Colleagues discussing employee attrition

How to hang on to valuable employees

The best tool to improve employee satisfaction and boost retention is your own staff. Having a proactive manager, willing to invest time in their people and uncover any issues, will have the biggest change on your team and their tenures.

Here are three tips for proactive management and improving retention:

  1. Swap exit interviews for stay interviews

Uncover issues before it’s too late and they snowball. Schedule frequent thoughtful discussions, or stay interviews, with a focus on how you can best positively impact an employee’s experience in the workplace. This will also be a chance to build trust and rapport, as well as better help the unique needs of your employee.

Ask questions like, ‘What motivates you?’, ‘What gets you excited about your day?’, ‘What parts of the day do you dread?’ and ‘Have you thought about leaving?’. The more you ask, and the more your employee feels they are heard and can be honest with you, the less likely a notice letter will come out of the blue.

  1. Contribute to career growth

Following your stay interviews, work together with your employees to identify career plans in your business that meet their aspirations. This proves there are rewards for loyalty and ensures that you understand what their unique goals may be and show that it is available within the business. This is a proactive management approach with a human touch, as no two pathways will be the same.

  1. Focus on the well-being of your employees

Healthy employees make for happy employees. That means those that feel supported, and nurtured and that their work responsibilities are not competing with their personal responsibilities.

Look at traditional well-being policies, flexible work or EAP. It’s also worth exploring other options like ways to welcome working mothers back or even keeping older workers on as part-time as they near retirement. Explore all options that meet the unique needs of your workforce; that might mean some roles, responsibilities, or work types may change over the length of your employee’s tenure. (See: The how and why of workplace wellness.)


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