Employee Attrition Is the Symptom, Not the Problem

by Suzanna Colberg March 2, 2016
March 2, 2016

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For large enterprises like contact centers, employee attrition is often viewed as an unavoidable cost of doing business. With high volumes of customers to deal with in a limited amount of time, call centers can be challenging environments, and it takes employees with the right set of core competencies to fit the role and be truly successful.


However, attrition affects both high and low performers alike. There are two sides to attrition; positive and negative. Positive attrition occurs when low-performing workers leave voluntarily or are fired. However, when top-performing employees who are responsible for driving sales and increasing revenue become demotivated and start looking for the exit, this is known as negative attrition, and it is an implication of a larger, more serious problem within an organization.


One study conducted by FurstPerson illustrates the financial toll the employee attrition rate can take on an organization. Across several major industries, it can cost anywhere from $ 1,500 to $ 16,650 per agent.


Attrition Rates by Industry


Few industries are immune to some workforce erosion, however, employee attrition is not an unavoidable problem in and of itself; it is usually the symptom of a larger, systemic problem within the organization.


Common Causes of Attrition

While some companies with large bodies of frontline workers see attrition as an occurrence that is simply par for the course, its causes can almost always be boiled down to internal problems and issues. Below are some of the more common causes of attrition.


Poor training


According to go2HR.com, 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year. In contact center environments, oftentimes there is pressure to compress training programs so new hires can begin handling calls more quickly. In turn, training is typically quick and packed full of information so employees can begin assisting customers as soon as possible.


However, whittling training time down too much can leave employees feeling unprepared to perform the essential duties of the job.


One way call center managers and directors can avoid this is to create a longer transition period between training and independent job performance. Creating an operating environment with a higher supervisor-to-employee ratio helps ensure employees will have the support, direction and guidance they need to perform well.


Poor management


In industries across the board, driving revenue is generated by performance, and performance is ultimately about people. Driving year-over-year returns involves investing in employees, especially those leadership positions. One survey conducted by FurstPerson illustrates as much, highlighting a correlation between a director’s tenure and employee attrition.


The research demonstrates that centers whose leaders stay longer tend to have employees who also stick around longer and report hire rates of satisfaction. In fact, directors with five or more years of tenure reported average monthly attrition rates that were 247% lower than directors with less than two years of tenure. As they say, employees leave managers, not companies, and taking the time to properly invest in leadership ultimately benefits the bottom line.


Lack of growth and advancement opportunities


When companies do not offer advancement and developmental opportunities for capable and ambitious workers to take advantage of, they end up losing talented employees and retaining poor performers (also known as the “dark side” of retention). Offering upward professional mobility is one method to help motivate some high-performing employees to stick around longer.


Inaccurate job profiles


Job descriptions identify the skills necessary for a position, as well as what kind of environment candidates should expect. If an employer has not taken the time to construct a hiring profile that truthfully outlines the details of the job, they run the risk of disappointing qualified candidates by not delivering on their promises, or hiring candidates who do not have the proper skillset to be successful in the position.


The best way to avoid these types of situations is to be honest with the information included in the description for the position, such as the shift the employees will be working, what advancement opportunities will be available and when, and how much flexibility employees will have.


Attrition isn’t an entirely unavoidable problem, and can be addressed as early as the hiring process. A well-rounded and data-driven hiring procedure can help organizations target candidates who possess the qualities necessary to perform well. Learn how to implement an effective hiring process by downloading your free copy of our eBook, 5 Talent Acquisition Commandments for Every Productive Mass Hiring Team.
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