Recruitment costs are sky-high. Employers are turning to overseas talent. Employees are being more selective in the roles they take. How can you avoid the harmful situations facing HR departments as much as possible? It starts with eliminating regrettable turnover.
Turnover or attrition, or the gradual diminishment of a workforce's size, is a common aspect of any business. Regrettable attrition, however, is when employees who you’d have liked to stay in your organization leave and can be quite alarming. Crucially, regrettable attrition has a negative impact on your team. This is in direct contrast to non-regrettable attrition when it’s a net-positive that an employee left, whether that’s due to their performance or the liability they posed to your business.
The impact of regrettable attrition is difficult to assess until it happens, at which point it can already have had a significant, negative impact on your business. Therefore, it’s essential businesses are aware of what causes regrettable attrition, the role culture plays in preventing regrettable attrition, and how to begin addressing it.
In this article, we’ll explore each of those pieces of the regrettable-attrition puzzle. Let’s get started.
A Smart Team Compared to a Healthy Team
We often see regrettable attrition in highly intelligent teams. Despite these teams’ abundance of technical skill, they often overlook the importance of a healthy culture. These teams prioritize the ‘smart’ side of their business, but neglect factors that will make their organization ‘healthy,’ such as fostering a stronger work-life balance and building a healthy supportive environment.
The result is that valuable team members leave in search of a healthier team and more positive atmosphere. Some of the consequences of that regrettable attrition include:
Organizations need to keep in mind that skills aren’t the only things that matter at work. They should prioritize a healthy team culture in addition to measurable skills. By doing so, organizations can retain talent, enhance team performance, and ultimately achieve greater success.
Culture is Essential for Preventing Regrettable Attrition
Before you write ‘culture’ off as another tired corporate buzzword, consider the best team on which you’ve ever worked. What comes to mind right away? It’s probably the people you worked with, and the joy they brought to the role. People and culture—not skills—are what keep employees engaged.
While hard skills are necessary for the success of any business, a healthy culture is essential for sustaining that success. Think of the front and back wheels of a bike: your business’ skills—the back wheel—drives you forward, and your front wheel—your culture—keeps you moving in the right direction, avoiding hazards as they arise.
So, how does culture impact your organization’s retention efforts?
By focusing on a healthy business culture, organizations can prevent regrettable attrition, increase loyalty, and foster long-term success.
The Common Causes of Regrettable Attrition
Regrettable attrition often results from poor work-life balance and burnout. Organizations should prioritize initiatives that promote balance, provide stress management resources, and foster a supportive culture for employee well-being. So what drives employees to the point where they feel like they have no choice but to leave? A multitude of factors could be at play, but three that we commonly see include:
Let’s take a deeper look at how these factors become the main drivers of regrettable attrition.
Ineffective Communication Can Create Toxicity
Ineffective communication and a lack of transparency within an organization are massive contributors to regrettable attrition. When communication is needlessly secretive and siloed, it can create an environment of uncertainty and frustration for employees. This lack of clarity creates a breeding ground for misunderstandings, rumors, and ultimately the sense of being disconnected from the organization's decision-making processes.
Comparatively, organizations that prioritize transparent communication create an atmosphere of trust and engagement. When a business is open about its goals, strategies, and performance, employees have a clearer understanding of the direction and expectations. Additionally, they can see how their individual contributions align with the organization's objectives, which increases their sense of purpose and motivation.
By establishing platforms for dialogue and feedback, employees feel empowered and valued. What’s more, a transparent communication style allows for the efficient exchange of ideas, concerns, and suggestions. Not only can this foster a sense of collaboration and shared ownership, but it can lead to breakthrough ideas that otherwise would have never seen the light of day.
If Employees Aren’t Growing, They’re Leaving
Businesses love quotes like ‘if you’re not growing, you’re dying.’ It’s the type of aphorism that you can find hanging from the walls in businesses across the country. While such sayings are a motivator for businesses, they also resonate with talent. If an employee isn’t seeing the opportunity for growth, why would they bother staying around?
The truth is that employees who job-hop tend to out-earn their peers who stay loyal to an organization over time. What’s that mean for your organization? That your employees need to be convinced that they are going to grow so much with your organization that it will be more valuable to stay than leave for what could be a significant increase in pay.
Investing in training, mentorship, and career development programs is crucial to support employee growth, satisfaction, and retention. By providing opportunities for learning and skill enhancement, organizations empower employees to expand their knowledge, acquire new competencies, and take on more challenging roles. These initiatives not only contribute to personal and professional growth but also demonstrate your organization's commitment to investing in its employees' long-term success.
Your Employees Must Be On-Board With Your Organization’s Goals
Regrettable attrition ultimately comes down to relationships, and to understand why employees leave, it’s helpful to consider relationships outside work. Why do friends grow distant? One reason that repeatedly appears is that they want different things from life. The same can be said for businesses and their employees. If your employees aren’t aligned with your organization’s values and goals, it can drive regrettable attrition.
To address this, it’s critical that organizations clearly communicate their values and ensure that employees understand and internalize them. This is because when employees feel that their own beliefs align with the goals and values of your organization, they’re more likely to feel a greater sense of connection to their work and less likely to jump ship.
Dysfunctional Team Dynamics Lead to Dissatisfaction
Teams are composed of unique individuals. Humans are complicated. Excellent teams have diversity of thoughts, styles and preferences. This sort of diversity can cause friction within a team. Unless team members understand one another well, communications can be misinterpreted, which can lead to friction within the team, which can lead to division. Individuals have different ways of thinking, communicating and interacting. Many times what one team member thinks is a perfectly acceptable way to communicate may cause another team member to withdraw or maybe become more assertive.
If team members can understand each other’s personality, communication preferences and means of thinking, it can go a long way to eliminating miscommunications and team dysfunction. Building this understanding within the team along with clear team expectations, lead to healthy effective teams. Investing in teams to build this type of understanding will lead to extremely effective teams and better organizational performance. Well-regarded management gurus believe high performing teams is one of the most lasting competitive advantages an organization can have.
Strategies for Eliminating Regrettable Attrition
Regrettable attrition and the factors that cause it aren’t some pesky bug—they can’t be eliminated overnight. There’s no single solution, and finding the answer for your business can take time. That said, the benefits of eliminating regrettable attrition and improving employee retention are huge—even too large to measure in some cases.
The truth is that when you lose a valuable member of your team, you’ll never know what could have been. It’s important to prioritize your employees’ well-being and promote a healthy work-life balance, but starting somewhere more concrete will lead to better results.
Before you dive into ‘prioritizing your employee’s well-being’ or ‘promoting a healthy work-life balance,’ dig deeper. Start by taking a close look at the factors that enable you to truly improve well-being and a work-life relationship.
By implementing these strategies and emphasizing the importance of communication, growth, aligned values and goals, and enhanced team dynamics you can significantly reduce regrettable attrition’s impact on your business.
Lauber Business Partners Can Help You Reduce Regrettable Attrition
Regrettable attrition is one of many battles within business. While it may seem like an internal struggle, the truth is that it has everything to do with your competition. Your ability to retain and engage employees not only makes you a more attractive place to work, but it also makes your teams more productive.
That retention and engagement can give your organization a significant competitive advantage over its competition. Unfortunately, many businesses struggle to overcome the challenge of regrettable attrition and aren’t able to experience that advantage.
Lauber Business Partners team of consultants can help your organization’s managers overcome the challenges that drive regrettable attrition. To learn more about our manager training and HR consulting on employee engagement, get in touch with our team today!