Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Good Kind of Attrition

By tedgresham997 on Pixabay
Many companies struggle with attrition, where good employees are leaving to find other positions with other companies. Lose key resources, and your organization suffers. Lose too many in a single departure, and your business may be dead in the water in a certain function.

The negative perception of attrition, though, may be extremely one-sided. When managed appropriately, attrition is just like trimming a shrubbery that is grown out of control. It's not a huge negative impact overall to the operations of the company (unless you are in a very small company where losing one or two people is a huge percentage).

But there is a good side to attrition that people rarely notice. People's choices to leave the company also provide for the following opportunities to make the team grow stronger:

  • Promotions - Attrition naturally opens up promotion opportunities as leaders look to fill vacant roles. Hiring from within can offer ability to reward those employees who most deserve it.
  • New Ideas - Hiring externally to fill open spots offers a different opportunity - the opportunity to inject fresh ideas into the team and bring in external history and experiences that add to the collective knowledge.
  • Career Pathing - Often when top performers are locked in a role where there is limited upward mobility, allowing them to jump ship offers a career path that might encourage others. While a college football program is sad to see its players move on as they graduate, the program that that has more players move to a professional level after some time in development are likely to attract stronger players in the coming years.
  • Enthusiasm Injection - New employees on a job bring a fire and enthusiasm which, when nurtured, can continue and inspire others. If more tenured employees leave, it offers the opportunity to allow your team to benefit from some fired-up coworkers.
This is not to say all attrition is good. When you are hit with a huge percentage of a team leaving or a key linchpin moving on without a solid transition, that can cause a ripple in the organization that may take a long time to recover from. But the normal, one at a time movement of people between careers is a natural and perfectly acceptable reality in the workplace. Embrace the change and look at the benefits that it can offer the team, rather than focusing on the work that new employees will bring.