What is attrition?

Attrition is the naturally occurring, voluntary departure of employees from a company. Attrition involves leaving a job for:

  • Personal reasons
  • Professional motivation
  • Job mismatch
  • Issues in the workplace

Attrition differs from employee turnover. While a high turnover rate can cause company setbacks and the constant need for hires, the attrition process occurs inevitably, due to employee retirement or resignation, for example. A robust company can withstand such minor employee reduction and probably won’t seek immediate staff replacement.

Why should HR leaders care about attrition? 

Called by Gallup, “the job-hopping generation,” “six in 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities.”  With such a high rate of attrition occurring naturally in the workforce, HR leaders can ride the wave and embrace the trend in job fluidity. With an awareness and understanding of the current attrition reality, HR leaders can shape an engaged, productive, and dedicated workforce. 

What can HR do to ensure attrition benefits the company?

HR leaders can help their companies benefit from attrition by incorporating these practices:

  • Plan for a varied employment. HR leaders can adapt to the nature of the job market by researching and collecting data to plan for different types of employment within the company. Perhaps essential core workers can become full-time employees, while others can be hired as contingent workers or independent contractors. HR leaders should consider, as always, the needs of the company as well as the individual workers.
  • Retain employees crucial to company success. After identifying the most influential and essential employees for company growth and advancement, HR leaders can focus on engaging and retaining them. Through providing competitive compensation packages, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and establishing a company culture based on trust, appreciation, and respect, HR leaders can increase the chances of keeping valuable employees.  
  • Incorporate a warm offboarding program. HR leaders can integrate an offboarding program that allows employees to leave on good terms. It’s important to send off departing employees with gratitude and well-wishes for the next step in their professional journey. This way, employers exemplify integrity, and employees can serve as positive ambassadors for their ex-employer
  • Leave the door open for employees to return. HR leaders can work with managers and executives to develop policies and a company culture that welcomes boomerang employees. High-quality employees who leave a company and later decide to return have the potential to contribute their valuable knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm.

How can attrition improve company culture?

Even in the most ideal work conditions, attrition occurs. While it is often difficult to lose employees, attrition can give HR leaders the chance to reevaluate and realign their recruiting and hiring tactics with company goals and values. Attrition can also open opportunities to attract top talent or individuals who perhaps better fit for specific positions.

Embracing the increase in attrition in the current work culture can help HR leaders, managers, employees, and executives, build a company culture that encourages personal growth, fulfillment, and success.