6 Proven Ways To Reduce Attrition


Company owners and executives often focus on reducing turnover as a way to save money for their companies. They know losing a key employee costs the firm in several ways. It forces a re-engagement of the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process, with all its attendant costs including costs for flying candidates out to interviews, a vacant position until a suitable replacement is found, not to mention the search fee. It also means a new employee that will have to be trained, and established workers will spend part of their otherwise-productive hours orienting and explaining duties to the replacement. Not to mention having a key role empty and  tasks left uncompleted when the position is vacant.

But not all employee turnover is created equal. According to the Journal of Management, company performance suffers most when the turnover comes from the ranks of management, in mid-sized companies, and where the lost employee’s responsibilities centers on safety, quality, or customer service. It is no coincidence that the higher up in management a departing employee works, the greater the chance that he will be somewhat responsible for all three of these critical areas.

Because replacing an Executive Level employee is extra-costly, in terms of lost productivity and opportunity, hiring for the long term is especially critical for Director level and higher roles.

Here are 6 easy to implement ways to increase your chances of making your next hire a solid match for both the company as well as the employee, and increase the prospects for a mutually beneficial long-term employment relationship:

  • Conduct Situational Interviews. The biggest factor in decreasing attrition is to tighten up your hiring protocols.  Utilizing situational interviews should help you determine if a candidate has the skill sets required to do the job he or she is interviewing for.  By placing the candidate in a situation he will face regularly in the new position, you can determine how they will react. This should include role-playing or preparing a reaction to a case study. If the situation is not critical or highly confidential, you could even include the potential employee in a real-life discussion or analysis. Situational Interviews are highly valuable because of the information that you can glean if conducted correctly. This will give you a chance to see the person in action, observing not only his skills, but also his demeanor when interacting with future peers and superiors. At the same time, the candidate can taste success and absorb a bit of your company culture.
  • Incorporate Personality Assessments as part of your interview process. Making a long term match involves ensuring that a candidate possesses not only the hard skills required to do the work, but also has the soft skills necessary to fit into your corporate culture. By taking advantage of some of the amazing personality assessment tools available, hiring managers can delve into a candidates intrinsic motivators, gaining insight into what a person naturally enjoys, their core strengths and weaknesses, as well as key suggestions on how best to manage and motivate them.
  • Conduct EXIT Interviews. By learning the reasons why candidates leave, you can gain invaluable insights from someone that is free to share their experiences without fear of repercussions. This is literally priceless information and the opportunity should never be missed to inquire into how your company can do better. The key to effective Exit Interviews is to provide a combination of specific questions, such as ” Do they feel they were supported in their job?” ” How would they describe the company culture?” “Were they given the tools required to do their job as efficiently and expeditiously as possible?” as well as being open to suggestions or insights in blank areas on your questionnaire.  Often times the questions that you don’t think to ask provide the most telling information. Encouraging departing employees to speak live with a neutral party as well as offering them paperwork to fill out once they have left the office is critical to optimize the information you will glean.  Not only does this provide incredibly valuable information to the company, but it also offers the exiting employee the opportunity to ‘vent’ and share their reasons for quitting. Research shows that when departing employees are given the opportunity to share their experiences, the number of lawsuits dramatically lowers. Everyone ultimately wants to be heard,  and this is yet another reason why exit interviews should be implemented on a consistent basis.
  • The importance of a positive on-boarding experience cannot be overemphasized. It has been estimated that 7 out of 10 new hires have reservations about their decision to accept a job. The first 90 days in a new role is a probationary period for both sides, weather that is formally stated or not.  Make it a point to do what you can to have new employees feel at home early in their new position. Show them the workplace can be fun as well as productive, and demonstrate ways the firm is dedicated to their success. This will help convince them that your company is more than a stepping stone or “just a job.” It will begin to seem more like a place to build a career.
  • Pair them up with a colleague day one. Study after study shows that if a new hire has at least one person within the company that he feels comfortable going to with any concerns and questions, without fear of reprisal, the chances of them celebrating their first year work anniversary more than triple.  Take time to introduce new hires to their teammates, and encourage conversations that are not necessarily work-related. There will be plenty of time for policy reviews, formal training, and structured work flow, but for now, this informal orientation shows the employee you are excited to have him on the staff. It’s also an opportunity to reinforce those feelings among established staff members by pointing out workers whom the new employee would do well to emulate. It is important to pair up your new hires with someone that is not their  reporting manager, and also obviously important to pair them up with someone that you trust to paint a positive picture of your company and its future.  By formally setting up time periods their first week where they spend a few hours with a manager from a different department, you can encourage that relationship as well as gaining additional value in showing the new team member how other departments work, etc.
  • Show them the path to success. Point out current employees who have moved up in the organization or have taken advantage of some of the perks – such as tuition reimbursement – that your company offers. This demonstrates to the new colleague a vested interest in his development. It can come with a subtle hint of the performance standards you expect. Express it in terms of mutually beneficial goals, emphasizing both the support you can provide to ensure he can meet the challenges, as well as the rewards he will glean from meeting and exceeding your expectations. By showcasing current employees success stories, you gain  multiple benefits from not only the employee that is being praised, but also showing what the new staff member can look forward to, when he or she excels in their role.

Ann Zaslow- Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, a leader in Executive Search since 1999. Please reach out to ISC for any hiring needs from the following 4 recruiting teams : Sales Recruiters, Finance Recruiters, Human Resources Recruiters, & Construction Leadership Search Consultants.

You can reach Ann directly at or via phone at 888-866-7276.

Anna Souers is ISC’s Director of Financial Recruiting, and can be reached at 800-450-3808 or via e-mail at