Saturday, April 1, 2017

A for Attrition

My father started and ended his career after 33 years at ITC Limited, the largest cigarette manufacturing company in India, which has now morphed itself in to a full-fledged Consumer Products Company. I always used to wonder how such traditional companies could retain their employees so long while new-age Retail Companies - established players as well as newer startups fail to do so. One of the biggest issues plaguing Organized Retail (Offline & Online) today is – not just lack of Investments or returning customers, rather staff attrition. Despite best efforts by the company, from monthly felicitations, cash rewards, mid-course promotions, and of course the house parties at startups that sometimes even have beer and snacks flowing, employees leave. At times, abruptly.

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Why Employees leave – Myths

Competition: Loyal employees, almost certainly never jump to competition. They leave their present organization on the premise that employee-friendliness is better at the Competitor’s place. And the job-hopping continues.

Higher Pay: Most employees never work just for money. They work for their passion towards Retail and serving customers whole-heartedly. Indeed, a good salary is important, but it is certainly not the only reason for them to leave.

Recognition & Rewards: While most Retail companies have a robust R&R mechanism, it generally fails to reward deserving candidates due to internal conflicts, nepotism and favoritism. Employees leave when they are not recognized for their hard work, especially at the front-end grass-root levels.


Distance to travel: Another big myth is employees feel the workplace is too far from their residence. Certainly not. Happy employees will travel any length to their workplace provided they are happy working for the Employer.

False promises: At times, Employers make tall promises about the job, work-life balance, promotion opportunities and incentives in addition to remuneration. When these are not kept up, employees feel cheated and walk away.

There is an old adage, which goes “Employees never leave an Organization, they leave their bosses”. This is so much true and relevant in current times when there are so many jobs that are getting mechanized from Retail Warehouses to Cashier checkout points. 

Offline Retail stores rely completely on human values and relationships between the front-end employees and their customers, so for these Retailers it is even more important to ensure the staff are kept happy.  At senior levels in the Organizations, the CXOs must ensure not just a happy working environment but must also measure these experiences from time to time and also keep improvising it. Top Retailers in the world have seen closure of their businesses and one of the key attributes to that is employee retention.

--> For most of us, A for Attrition is a bad word. But we must strive our best to ensure that this word loses significance in our business lives, slowly but steadily.

1 comment:

Giri said...

Two aspects not covered - number of attractive alternative options, stigma attached to moving around. These have changed between then and now. Also perception by employees how much their employer is invested n their careers.