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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Anatomy of attrition

Where have all the talent gone …? What attracts them…? My friend Raghavan, VP-HR of a BPO wondered. According to Raghavan, cost of attrition is 1.5 times the annual salary.

His Management tried everything. They declared war on attrition and tackled it head on ( anti-poaching agreements). Sometimes even adopted a more accommodative approach ( options like good rewards, bonding programme, flexible working hours and stronger career path ). Nothing seemed to have worked, not at least in IT / ITES industry. Now it’s slowly rubbing on other industries too. Be it manufacturing, healthcare, Engineering, Retail, FMCG – all of them are united in their grief.

I was meeting him after long and allowed myself an engaging discussion. In our own little attempt to find a solution, we set about dissecting the human nature tself. We used the hotel stationery to list out what triggers attrition.

In pursuit of heart : There’s this deep hunger that pervades modern life. To pursue what we genuinely care about than to stick with a job that we do for a living. Those who tried it felt it’s cool, extremely satisfying though a little rickety to begin with. It makes a lot of sense and it’s worth doing – because we put our heart to it not just head.

Self esteem : They're sick of working for organizations that treat them as if they didn't exist, thanks to those self deluding, arrogant control freaks who turn up day after day in their indulgent suits. The message clearly is - "tell us some good stories and capture our interest. Don't talk to us as if you've forgotten how to speak. Don't make us feel small. Remind us to be larger. Get a little of that human touch".

Open to risks : They’ve become incredibly resilient and no longer depend on the job you offer. They’ve learnt to assume risks, try out new things and face the consequences. They know the security offered by the job's all temporary, that they can't freeze the good times or hold back the bad. They know they can do it, roll with the punches, regroup, rebuild, pick up the pieces, take another shot. They understand that life’s just like that. And this seemingly simple understanding is the seed of a profound wisdom.

Technology vs. Sociology : Look at the Internet. Once a passive medium has now become so open, so permissive, participation is written all over it. It allows others to create the way they feel and accepts it too. Be it blogs, wikis, social networks or mashups. It accommodates all. It’s getting less and less of technology and more of sociology. Yet managements, especially of large companies still refuse to acknowledge these radical shifts affecting workforces.

Value springs : The fact is, rank and file of the organization often have far more valuable knowledge than managers and super Suits. If you kill off this enthusiasm, you can easily end up with a large, professional-looking, and very expensive behemoth that nobody gives a damn about. Nurture this creativity, egg them on and see where it gets. Top management support needs to come in the form of funding, facilitation, and enough brains to get out of the way. But that puts the Suits right over the edge. It's just not possible, they argue, to run a business by letting everybody improvise.

Spur of Creativity : Best of innovations spring from casual back room banter than from boardrooms. Know why…? It’s often the employee who takes the customer call, meets them informally and get a real feel of what they need. Allow them to deliver and they will build precisely what the customer needs. Not what’s buildable with available inventory on a FIFO basis. ( Suits simply can't score here ). This is precisely the reason why Garage startups are more nimble than corporate widebodies. If you lose your employees, search the Garages. You can't lure them back for half of the world.

I think we've gotten quite far. It's been almost an hour now and I had to catch an early morning flight. Will come back to it later.

For now, I rest my case.


Anonymous Aryan said...

Happened to have dropped by.. Even though not a regular blogger by any definition but do have an account on this site , hoping to blog way here...Anyways keep writing and keep the good work. Have subscribed to your blog , so look forward to read some interesting stuffs in near future.

Oh yeah ! before I go I am a IBTO (Invstment banking Technology & Operations) consultant. I work for large size IB (Buy & Sell both) firms across Europe and US. In future wanna step into VC space...

3:24 AM  

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