Monday, June 13, 2011

Attrition: What Is It Good For?

Our new project social team member Lyn suggested today’s post topic: Attrition. (Our little team is growing. Now we just need someone who looks like Sabrina.)

Dave and Lyn plan to talk about the downside of attrition, i.e., how it can negatively impact the rest of the team - you can read all about it over at HR Official and The Bacon Hut, respectively.

To mix it up a bit, I want to focus on the upside of attrition. Voluntary attrition, that is.

Here’s why: Attrition creates opportunity. Opportunity creates hope and fuels healthy competition and creativity. If no one ever leaves you have stagnation.

Look, it’s always sad when someone really terrific that everyone loves leaves. If it’s a colleague and friend the ‘survivors’ feel lonely and left behind. If it’s a great boss they worry about how the change will impact their job. And the person leaving may leave a big fat skills gap in their wake.

But we all know people who do an adequate job in a role someone else could probably do as well if not better. If they leave voluntarily everyone wins: no one gets fired and a new opportunity opens up for someone else.

Another point to consider is that at some point an individual has gone as far as they can go at one company. If they still have higher career ambitions, it may be better for all concerned if they move on.

"If you're the second runner up for a position that isn't changing hands any time soon, you may have reached the end of your career at a particular company... Career development is a bit of a ponzi scheme, after all - barring wild growth, it only works if people at the top periodically move out of the way. In fact, attrition may be key to retention because it helps companies retain the people who haven't yet reached the end of their career tether.
Source: Is Attrition a Key Component of Retention?

So, although a lot depends on why the person left and how the new team dynamic shapes up, I think voluntary attrition helps keep it fresh.


  1. Attrition in moderation is good, otherwise everyone could advance.


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