Top 10 ways to Mitigate Attrition in IT/ITES Industry....

"For many people a job is more than an income – it's an important part of who we are. So a career transition of any sort is one of the most unsettling experiences you can face in your life" Paul Clitheroe

There is a very high cost of attrition as lot of time, effort and energy is invested in bringing the employee on board, assimilation and integration with company culture, values and nuances. Simply put, it could be minimum 3 time cost of their annual compensation.

Despite such a high cost, still we as HR Professional continue to behave like any other department. In the fast changing business landscape, HR role is not of policing or personnel administration, however, expectation from HR is to play a strategic business partner role as success of companies depend on its human capital and leveraging of its potential.

1. Build people skills of middle management : A whole lot of time and efforts are spent in organization doing attrition analysis and in understanding key reasons of attrition, however, majority of times across industry / organizations, 3 key stated reasons emerges despite granular analysis : -
  • Career Opportunity
  • Compensation
  • Personal Reason

However, when you get into details and peel the onion, un-stated reasons starts appearing and most of time the reason has to do with lack of opportunity for capability building, emotional turmoil, lack of job satisfaction, respect at work, dis-satisfaction with Manager etc.

It is a acceptable fact in the Industry that 80% of employee leave their Managers instead of their organization. In spite of this fact, in the Industry, we continue to promote people for their operating skills and then make them in-charge as Team Leader / Asst. Manager while aligning career of 8-10 associate with them as Managers. However, do not spend time upfront in developing new managers people skills. They continue to do what make them successful so far - INDIVIDUAL XCELENCE which brought them here, however, will not make them successful in their new jobs.

It is a high time that we start paying attention to developing people management skills of our Managers.

2. Focus on Capability building and creating an eco system where people development is at the fore-fornt of leadership mindset. While it is difficult to stop attrition completely, however, by focusing on building people capability, you can make the "PULL" factor by competitors difficult.

3. Communication on Compensation & Benefits - Majority of organizations fail to position their compensation philosophy / benchmarking / structure and thus fails to leverage the advantage vis-a-vis their competitors. This is 1 factor that could make PULL difficult from your competitors - however, instead of making it difficult, we rather help in PUSH. We must go beyond salary communication at the time of recruitment negotiations and communicate periodically about benefits that includes other than salary i.e. Group Medi-claim Insurance Scheme, Personal Accident Insurance Scheme, Company Leased Accommodation, Recreation, Cafeteria, ATM, gym and Concierge facilities; Personal Health Care (Regular medical check-ups), Loans etc. Make your compensation framework transparent and do not shy away from having an interaction with employees on broader contours of your compensation approach.

4. Engage employees over & beyond their day to day job and ensure that their insecurities and vulnerabilities are addressed appropriately and timely through various programs and practices which could be designed keeping in view organization context and requirements. Leveraging operating employees to partner with human resource team through a well defined program can go a long way.

5. Provide Growth Opportunities and communicate about them. Majority of companies do provide Growth opportunities, however, fail to leverage due to lack of communication on this front.

6. Managing expectation of employees is a key. Let top Managers / Leaders step out of their comfort zone and assimilate with employees and right align their expectations. New Millennial want to grow fast and it is essential that they are coached in right earnestness. The fact is 80-90% people remain at staff level, 4-7% in Middle Management & 2-3% at Top Management. It is essential that we align our employees and emphasize on the inevitability of building competencies / capabilities rather than having a single minded focus on vertical growth. It is OK to not get a promotion but to deserve it, rather than getting it while you do not deserve.

Poaching of employees by competitors for higher salaries drives them to change jobs. However, working on employee capability building and fairly compensating them while stressing upon the fact that employee needs to dig deep at least at 1 place to belong to Top Leadership as both depth and breadth are key to senior leadership positions helps make pull from competition a tad difficult.

7. Provide opportunities for skill up-gradation through training intervention or internal job assignment / movement.

8. Career Pathing plays a key role. It would serve the purpose if all employees who have spent > 18-24 months in the system are pro-actively spoken and asked for their career preferences to bring about a spark and end Monotony of work

9. Creating Training Academies with in and also do tie up with institutions. Create Sabbatical policy so that those employee who wants to pursue higher education can do so without leaving their job.

10. Effectiveness of Reward & Recognition - work hard and party harder is the mantra in IT/ITES industry. Celebrating success is a key. Strong reward & recognition framework keeping in view the context and levels also plays a critical role in employee retention.

In addition to the above, it is important that people at leadership level stop doing paralysis of analysis. The time and effort that I have seen goes in making power point presentation on attrition, could be well utilized by making leadership step out of their comfort zone (cabins ) and share their experiential learning's which shall help not only in people development, however, at the same time will help create a "psychological contract" which is essential for retention in competitive business landscape in a fast developing economy.


  1. Interesting article Raj.I may add another reason of attrition being that project management skills have scope for improvement in frontline managers( Team and Group Leaders). In general one follows the process learnt from one's superior or previous company to implement management of teams.

    This results in a lot of fire fighting on a day to day basis to deliver as per sla's.The resulting chaos results in stress,overtime etc and acts as a catalyst for attrition.

  2. Gaurav Kapil1:01:00 PM

    One can add 1 more point: Manage Recruitment & Selection process ethically as well as efficiently, which includes No-over promising as well as trying to get minimum acceptable attitude fit between job & candidate.

  3. Neeraj Mohbe5:06:00 PM

    Good article Raj. one point we may have to think is - how can we test whether individuals has values in him/her at the time of recuritment or what we as mangement can do to inculcuate values. India has a country has so much un tapped resources.

    one of the biggest Challenge is this too. If we are able to do something on this then to a great extent we do not have to worry about attrition...

  4. yes, Mr. Raj, I fully agree with you, particularly training the managers and mingling with the staff.One more thing partiality prevailing in the industry drives talented people to quit, because of some lacunae found in appraisal mechanisms.

  5. Anonymous4:51:00 PM

    Dear Mr. Raj,
    The article was very insightful and relevant in today's time. I would like to feature this article as the 'Key Feature' of our newsletter, Talent Prism, that goes out to 5000+ HR professionals.Please let me know your contact details so that we can discuss this further.

    Namita Jain
    Aspiring Minds Pvt Ltd

  6. Anonymous6:13:00 PM

    Good article.

    But,the most important thing I feel is the relationship between the Boss and subordinate (Competency based HR retention technique),which can help HR to minimize attrition.

    HR has to play role in developing this relationship (Boss and subordinate)to retain employees.Boss is the only person who can know/create/develop/assign/train/advise/persuade/pressurize psychologically the subordinate/his team, to stay in company.

    We as HR professionals has to motivate Boss and monitor each activity,as said above,if we really want to bring down the attrition percentage.

    Also,please forgive me for being critical but we HR should not point finger on other department heads/Boss,as indirectly we are at fault by not helping Bosses to learn HR skills to manage their team.

    I agree sometimes/often, they do not want to learn.But, we are there in company to make them understand/learn so that our goal of attrition reduction is fulfilled and also to make Bosses Super Hero's.

    Try out the suggestion,you will get results?

    Nina Jain

    1. Dear Nina,

      I agree with you that HR has to play a role in developing and strengthening relationship between both managers and subordinates by instilling appropriate skills.

  7. Anonymous10:10:00 AM

    Dear Raj

    I would say, it's a good article & must be practiced by all as Strategic Business Partners though Uufortunately it's left to HR tp address. I have got a very strong feeling that unless Top Management reconginzes HR as a Business Partner, other key influential people would not give HR it's due attention. Bottomline is if HR is at par with any other dept be it Sales or Mktg or Operations, I can see a sea change.

    Nevertheless, I agree with Nina Jain that HR has to be pro active.

    Kind Regards

    Rajeev Nangia

  8. I think in order to reduce attrition, proper employee management is enough. If employees have a sense of job security, they are sure to last long in the organization.

    Framing a fixed set of rules for all employees and then seeing to it that they are properly adhered to will work wonders. Making use of an application in order to take care of employees is a must in organizations with more than hundred employees.

    Many applications are available in the market for employee management. There is face recognition time attendance system that can systematically record the time keeping habits of employees. You can also come across an access control that can restrict unauthorized entry into a premise.

    Making use of such applications will see to it that human resources are efficiently managed.

  9. Sorry for being blunt.. but somehow I disagree with the very title... In IT and ITES industry for long we have been fighting out to find out ways to check attrition.. its like saying "how not to catch cancer" OR "how not to die" so we say "How to check attrition"... Why can't the title be "HOW TO ENSURE RETENTION"; HOW TO BRING ABOUT EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION and HAPPINESS" OR "HOW TO MAKE WORK FUN"... Mother Teressa once said... if you are anti war.. I am not with you but if you are PRO PEACE please call me. I think a sea change is required in our THOUGHTS AND PRINCIPLES... rest all will follow. Thanks.

    1. Excellent perspective....thanks for sharing.

  10. Anonymous4:01:00 PM

    80% of employee leave their Managers instead of their organization because I think majority of employee have the same attitude towards their Managers/Seniors as teenagers have towards their parents...Inflexible, Stubborn preachers who only wants to catch them doing wrong things and superficially appreciate them for anything good done with an inherent fear that appreciation might derail them continuing the good work. I think most of the managers(like parents) want to see their team members(children) growing but unfortunately are not perceived the same way by subordinates. And that's what make managers unlikable among staff. We all are seeing the way parents are moving away from "command and control parenting" to "friendly and collaborative parenting" to stay more closer to their children and have a good sense of whats happening in their life before it gets too late. I believe the same attitude shift is required at the managers level to get closer to the needs of the staff at the individual level. And support staff from HR, Administration, Accounts/Finance if can facilitate managers taking care of those needs in an efficient manner, managers will look good infront of their teams.

  11. Anonymous4:40:00 PM

    Excellent article Raj. I completely agree that individual contributors do not necessarily make effective managers; a point conviniently overlooked at times.

  12. There are only three things we need to concern ourselves with in order to get the sea change in not only retention but also morale and performance.

    I have been shouting this from the roof tops, but HR in India continues in other directions, it seems. I help companies on these very issues and, in the UK in particular, have had notable success, as my UK colleagues have done with their clients also.

    1. Select the right people for the role. This means stopping the reliance on just the usual suspects: skills, knowledge, training, qualifications and experience. This is maybe half-way at best. To go the rest of the way we must include the very important differentiators, which are behavioural, which can be partly measured by tools and the other part by interview method.

    In this I also try to get companies to apply the same measures for promoting or recruiting into leadership positions. (There are far too many non-leaders in leadership positions and no amount of training will make significant inroads into changing them.)

    2. Lead/manage people in accordance with their preferred behaviours (which requires flexibility in the leaders to adapt as required). Again, the measured behavioural traits signal how to do this.

    3. Develop people in the direction of their behavioural strengths and in a manner that fits with their behavioural learning style. The tools support this too.

    This applies to not just IT roles but to most roles in an organisation.



  13. Nice article, however, people stay for their own reason, and also leave for their own reasons. Every individual aspires for something and have the necessary resources to carry out what they want to, however, to reach their aspirations, which forever keeps climbing, one tries to close the gap being where they are, and if that isn't met they decide to get it from somewhere else so they go. Having said this, one must acknowledge the immediate Supervisor/Manager has a "big" role in retaining an employee. The trick is to being "proactive"

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