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Employee turnover and attrition can be problematic for organisations looking to retain and develop their best employees. Although the two can be hard to untangle, the factors leading to each, and involved in their reduction, are worth understanding.

In this guide, we’ll introduce five factors behind high turnover and attrition rates and recommend some effective solutions.


What’s the difference between employee turnover and employee attrition?

Employee attrition refers to the natural process of people leaving your company to move away, start a family, continue with education or similar reasons. It also includes those staff who retire or pass away.

Employee turnover, on the other hand, refers to employees who left due to an issue with the nature of their employment. This can include taking a better job elsewhere or feeling like there were no opportunities for growth.


What factors drive high employee turnover and attrition rates?

By no means do you need to worry every time somebody leaves your company. Employees moving on is a natural part of organisational life, after all. People grow out of opportunities, have epiphanies that lead them into completely different industries, or even just move somewhere too far away to make a commute viable.

If you’re seeing an unusually high attrition rate vs retention rate, however, then maybe it’s time to acknowledge this and figure out why. Such attrition can indicate something systemic, so there’s real value in identifying (and resolving!) these issues.

Below, we’ve highlighted five common reasons for high employee turnover and attrition and also offered suggestions on how to address each of these issues.


Issue 1: Their achievements aren’t acknowledged

We’ve all been in a position at work where things feel unfair. Perhaps you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project, only for someone else to take the credit (or for the work to go completely unnoticed). Situations like this are detrimental to an employee’s sense of worth and belonging and contribute massively to attrition. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure they don’t arise.

How to address it:

Employers need to be vigilant and make sure their employees’ work efforts are noticed. Acknowledgement is an incredibly powerful way to make somebody feel valued and invested; even better if it’s accompanied by real, useful feedback.

Ignore this too many times and you risk causing your employees to feel undervalued and eager to start looking for other opportunities.


Issue 2: They aren’t being compensated enough

Also bear in mind that recognition doesn’t just come in the form of acknowledgement and praise. Employees want to feel that they are adequately compensated for their work, and over time, frustrations can build up and start to fester.

The solution:

Make sure you review pay frequently, setting realistic and transparent expectations about earning opportunities in the role. Keep in mind that employees will be aware on some level of what those in similar roles are being paid. Naturally, they’ll not want to fall too far below the curve.

If there is a discrepancy here, address it. If you can’t match the amount realistically that they could be paid elsewhere, be honest about why and discuss potential other ways you could compensate them. 

And remember that remuneration isn’t limited to salary. Where relevant, ensure you take into account things like employee bonuses, commission, stock options, and other benefits.


Issue 3: Their voices aren’t heard

Feeling integrated into an organisation is often a determining factor as to how long an employee is likely to stick around, and being heard is a vital part of this. 

If an employee has no opportunity to contribute their ideas to discussions about how things are done, they will begin to feel unheard. Similarly, if an employee tries and fails to express their concerns about something affecting them, or affecting the company on a wider level, they may begin to resent this inability to be heard.

The solution:

Keep channels of conversation open so that concerns can be expressed. Give employees the opportunity to be involved in decisions at some level as well. This helps them to feel empowered, valued and part of what’s happening at the company: three outcomes that definitely align with retaining employees for longer.


Issue 4: There’s no opportunity to grow or advance

Sometimes it’s the unfortunate reality that there are no opportunities for advancement within your organisation, and you have employees who are keen to progress. When this situation arises, the most obvious solution is for your employees to look elsewhere.

If you keep losing good people for this reason and feel like their loss is detrimental to your company, it’s an ideal moment to reflect on whether there’s scope to expand the responsibilities (and remuneration) of certain roles, or maybe even to create new ones.

The solution:

Employee engagement surveys are a good way to build an understanding of the challenges and frustrations your employees are feeling. Often, they’ll also allow you to identify problems and resolve them before they develop into attrition issues.


Issue 5: They weren’t the right fit for the role in the first place

Not all reasons for employee attrition are down to a misalignment between a candidate’s expectations and the realities of the company culture. Sometimes, they just weren’t a good fit for your organisation in the first place and wouldn’t have thrived even if conditions were perfect.

This is an opportunity to look more closely at your recruitment process. Are your job descriptions and candidate profiles accurately worded, for example? Were the roles and documents that describe them put together by an individual or team with the right expertise, or were they thrown together during a period of quick expansion and remained the same since?

The solution:

If you notice you have a high attrition rate in particular roles in your organisation, take a step back and review the recruitment process and documentation for that role. It may be the case that people are being brought on with very different expectations to what they actually encounter in their role - reason enough for anyone to consider looking elsewhere.

Our talent attraction reviews are an excellent way to evaluate these processes, and to resolve any issues that may be leading to misalignment between the people being recruited and the demands of the role.


Working with Carrot Executive to reduce employee attrition

If you keep losing staff you’d rather hold onto, our talent retention strategy reviews will give you the knowledge you need to do it. Through a process of establishing your attrition rate, comparing it to that of competitors and identifying reasons for the discrepancy, we help design and integrate a solution for your organisation.

This process can span all areas of the business, depending on where the problem lies, including culture, induction, training, development, flexibility and rewards.

To find out more, read about our retention strategy reviews here.


A few final words

High employee attrition can be problematic for any organisation because, often, it means losing people you’ve invested time, energy and money into recruiting, on the assumption that they would be a good fit for the role.

Although attrition is frustrating, you can still isolate and resolve its causes, creating a more favourable ratio between employee attrition and employee retention.

If you’d like help understanding and resolving employee attrition issues, get in touch with us today. We pride ourselves on our knowledgeable, friendly and supportive service, and will be happy to help.


Carrot Executive

Carrot Executive work in partnership with a large number of Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences companies and consultancies, supporting with a range of executive search and bespoke insights projects to support clients in their strategic decision making in relation to talent attraction and retention, market penetration and competitor benchmarking.

For more information, please contact Martin Anderson via, call +44 (0)1625 541 032 or use the 'schedule a call' link below:

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