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Avoid Workforce Attrition With A Strong Talent Pipeline
  • 31 March 2016
  • Eric Michaels

Avoid Workforce Attrition With A Strong Talent Pipeline

Workforce attrition is the gradual loss of employees to other companies or careers, and it can strike any unprepared business. If such an exodus catches you off guard, it is time to look at company policies and the way you establish relationships with employees. With talent in the pipeline and an engaging management style, you have the best chance of maintaining and retaining a strong, stable workforce.

Why employees leave

While it is distressing to lose employees, avoid spending time and energy trying to get them back. Even in strong job markets, people rarely leave the comfort and security of a job without a backup plan in mind. Whether they want to switch careers or have accepted another job offer, consider your old employees gone for good. All things considered, your energy is better spent understanding why they left.

In some cases, a competitor may offer a talented employee more money. Small business owners often struggle to match these offers. Without huge financial reserves, you have to let the employee go. In other cases, workplace perks and practical concerns (e.g., location, benefits, and company focus) make a change attractive to an employee on the fence. Finally, a lack of respect or responsibility will force an employee to seek better opportunities. Business owners are usually to blame for these employee defections.

Avoiding workforce attrition

When employees leave because they feel their talents are wasted, management should take responsibility for the loss. Assessing an employee's talent is a key part of a business owner's job. If members of your team are working below their skill level, it is unlikely they will stay on board with your company. Unsatisfied employees will rarely bring up the subject on their own, so it is up to you to maintain a close relationship with them and regularly engage with them to hear feedback.

If an employee is unhappy with their duties in the company, think of ways they can better contribute to your mission. There is no reason to consider such an allowance a concession to an employee. Instead, think of it as using company assets to strengthen your business. Employees are just as likely to leave when their skills are unappreciated as for money issues. Make sure to meet with your team members one-on-one every six months to see how they feel about their position. This is the best way to avoid attrition in the future.

Strategizing with a talent pipeline

Not every employee will listen to reason and stay with your company when offered more responsibility. Likewise, those motivated by money may leave when you can no longer afford to pay for their services. In these cases, your only way to prepare is by keeping talent in the pipeline. You should know which of your employees is ready to step into a position of leadership if someone should leave unexpectedly. Be sure to make it known that they are on your short list for a promotion in the future to keep them on your side.

The networking efforts of small business owners pay off in these moments. Being busy with your company is no reason to fall out of touch with industry contacts. Your recruiting process plays a role in your talent pipeline, as well. Even when you cannot afford to hire a promising candidate, stay in touch with the person in case your financial position changes in the future. Their new job may not work out as planned, or the money might do the trick after all. Let them know your door is open.

Keeping employees engaged and rewarded is the best way to avoid workforce attrition. When an unexpected exodus strikes, have options both inside and outside your company ready. Never underestimate the power of a strong talent pipeline.

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