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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

August - 2011 - issue > People Manager

Attrition Blues: Myth & Reality

C Mahalingam (Mali)
Thursday, August 4, 2011
C Mahalingam (Mali)
In the just concluded NASSCOM HR summit, I moderated a panel discussion on “How much is too much” when it comes to employee turnover. It evoked a lot of interest and provoked much different points of views at the event. As managers, all of us are obsessed with and worried about the invisible revolving doors we are battling with. The concern is real and for good reasons. Our on-time delivery and customer satisfaction depend a great deal on stable workforce. The cost of replacement is negatively impacting the not-so-high margins heavily. There is a general sense of helplessness on the part of all of us as managers. It is against this backdrop that the above Summit deliberated the issue at length.

Opening the panel, I had a few key points and pointers to share. In a nutshell, these revolved around the following, not necessarily, anything out of the world though!

*The HOBO Syndrome: Way back in 1974, Dr Ghisseli researched the challenge of employee turnover and presented his findings in American Psychologist. He observed that there has been an increasing desire on the part of employees globally to change from one job to another. He termed this attitude and behavior as “Hobo Syndrome.” This simply is the tendency of employees to engage in job-hopping behavior. In a hot market, this tendency or syndrome is even more heightened. Understanding this reality is helpful to manage our anxiety and often a desire to contain attrition.

? The ‘Shock’ Theory: Lee and Mitchell researched into the causes of voluntary turnover and published their findings in the Human Resource Management journal (Fall-2005). Their findings reveal that job dissatisfaction contributes much less to the employee turnover than different kinds of ‘shocks’ they experience from time to time. A shock is defined as a particular jarring event that initiates the intention to quit. The shock could be positive, neutral or negative, expected or unexpected, and internal or external. Typical examples are an unsolicited job offer, change in marital status, transfer to another location or company being subjected to a merger and the like. Lee & Mitchell examine four different paths that lead to employee quitting. Knowledge of this theory and how it works will be useful to understanding turnover in depth.

? Mali’s Law of returning Indian: With overseas job opportunities still commanding a lot of preference with knowledge workers, this law has its impact. Simply translated, this law implies: “for every Indian working overseas returning to India, there is another Indian of the opposite sex accompanying back to overseas through the institution called marriage!” This in effect means that whenever an Indian working overseas returns to India, expect one more to quit his or her job, get married and go back to find a job overseas!


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