Infant attrition is a challenge faced by many organisations globally. And how do they deal with it? Through the age-old practice of Exit Analysis. Instead of focusing on ways to retain employees, companies focus on the reasons they left and try to weed those out. However, now is the time to change. Read on as the author shares insights into how organisations can bring about this change and curb infant attrition.
Shipra joined the organisation with a lot of enthusiasm and dreams in her eyes. She had heard great things about the organisation and was looking forward to experiencing them and build a strong career for herself. However, all her aspirations came crashing down as the experience turned out to be a nightmare. Her onboarding was a disaster with a poorly designed orientation program and no one around to make her feel welcomed. On top of it, she was thrown directly into a project without any perspective or training.To make things worse, the manager assigned to her was bad at people management. During the first month, the manager shouted at her in front of other team members for a mistake she made in excel calculations.
Shipra couldn’t find anyone to talk to and this resulted in what we call ‘Infant Attrition’ – exit within first six months of joining. Many organisations come across similar cases and resort to the Exit Analysis process to investigate and come up with reasons for the attrition. And post this, they use action planning to weed out these ‘attrition reasons’ from the organisation. This lens of looking at attrition and bringing attrition down has been used by many organisations for long. Now is the time to change. What if we give a vivid turn to the lens with which we look at attrition? Instead of negatives, what if we look at positives? Instead of looking at reasons for attrition, what if organisations start looking at reasons for which employees will stay in the organisation? These reasons are what we call as STAY FACTORS- the factors which keeps an employee glued to an organisation and doesn’t let an employee think about leaving the organization. They are core to every organization and will differ for every organisation.
Here is a 3-step process to identify Stay Factors and weave them into your organizational culture.
Identifying the Stay Factors
Identify long tenured high performers and talk to them. Make a list of factors that motivate them to work with the organisation. Ask them sharp questions like – “Have you ever thought about leaving? If yes, what made you change your mind?” Validate the factors with multiple instances where these factors have actually played out in the organisation for real. Discuss and validate the list with the top management. Leadership as a group should debate, discuss, and review these factors. The 5-6 factors that emerge at the end of the process are the core Stay Factors. You can be creative and gamify this entire process to get inputs from employees. (A Study by Vincent S. Flowers & Charles L. Hughes on “ Why Employees Stay” is a good reference point to understand Stay Factors better).
Communicating the Stay Factors
Once you’ve identified the Stay Factors, think of creative ways to communicate them to the employees. Design storybooks with individual/ team stories where these Stay Factors have played out in reality. Have leadership bring out these factors in their conversations with the employees. Employees relate to such stories. The idea is to design the communication in a way that these factors are reinforced again and again, and with time become the language of the organisation. A good starting point will be to check how ‘aware’ people managers are of these Stay Factors. If you’re a retail organisation, check this with the branch/store managers at distant locations. Strong communication of Stay Factors will help keep negativity away and will auto-resist employees to think about switching jobs.
“The idea is to design the communication in a way that these factors are reinforced again and again, and with time become the language of the organisation.”
Weaving Stay Factors into the Culture
Stay Factors should be real and continue playing in the organisation. If any of the Stay Factors is not being observed in the organisation, it will die and lead to dilution of culture. Once the Stay Factors have been identified, organisations can find ways to make processes and strengthen these Stay Factors. This will ensure that these Stay Factors grow in strength and employees can see, feel, and value them in their day to day life at work.
A good idea is to look at employee life cycle and map Stay Factors across various touch points. Look at best ways to make an impactful connection of these factors with the employee. Methodology is important to leave a lasting impact. A stay factor should be a real strong one and not the one in diluted form. For instance, if “Learning” is one of the Stay Factors, organisations can have ‘learnability’ of the candidate as one of the parameters to check during the hiring process. The onboarding process can have learning focused games, employees can have “individual learning cards” for the year. Organisations can also have strong L&D teams in place to ensure intensity-driven learning.
“Many organisations come across cases of Infant Attrition and resort to the Exit Analysis process to investigate and come up with reasons for the attrition. And post this, they use action planning to weed out these “attrition reasons” from the organisation, but this ought to change.”
You can also create learning forums across the organisation for the Stay Factors to play in reality. Identification, communication, and cultural weave-in of Stay Factors help build a strong organisational culture. This, in turn, helps curb attrition. It’s a good idea to check for the presence of intensity of Stay Factors in each and every employee’s lifecycle. Run instruments to capture and measure the strength of Stay Factors from time to time. The process of capturing Stay Factors in itself will help spread positivity among employees. Once identified, these Stay Factors become strong levers to control attrition. Celebrate your Stay Champions and provide opportunities for them to share their “Stay Stories”. Love your Stay Factors and make your employees fall in love with them.
Shipra would not have left the organisation if the stay factors were introduced, reinforced and played out during her first month with the organisation. Use the stay factors to ensure no Shipra leaves the organisation so soon.