Early in my recruiting career, I was hired onto a team that had a monthly hiring quota of 35 specialized engineers, many of whom had specific government security clearances. It was a great team with good leadership, support, and resources which helped us successfully maintain a healthy hiring volume. Pretty quickly it became clear why we had the team quota of recruiting 35 engineers a month: 35 engineers were leaving the organization every month. That theme became a common refrain in my career as a recruiter and managing talent acquisition teams. We were often called up to fill the attrition gap for the organization. The number always varied, but the reason was always the same: X amount of people, who are crucial to driving revenue, are leaving the company every month and we need that many plus Y more a month to grow. As an internal employee it was an opportunity to show what you can do, provide innovative solutions to a problem, and build a successful reputation. However, I always got the feeling the we were using a hammer to solve a problem that required a scalpel.
Now that I’m out of the corporate world, I’d like to provide some unsolicited input for business leaders. You are not going to recruit your way out of an attrition problem. At best, you are just sticking fingers in the wholes of the proverbial dike. Most talent acquisition teams will happily scale up their operation to meet the challenge. Many large companies can afford to do exactly that and spend their way out of the attrition problem. They simply buy talent in the labor market over time to replace their losses. However, having been there before I can tell you the effort can take a year or more (in the case of tight labor markets) and cost millions of dollars.
In the best situations, the organization throws itself into the attrition problem as a separate issue and works to solve the underlying challenges feeding the flow of talent out of the organization. When labor markets get competitive even those efforts become a talent management arms race with the cost of retention initiatives climbing into the millions of dollars. However, I submit that spending $250,000 keeping people is far better than spending $100,000 hiring new replacements given the time and cost to onboard, lost productivity over 3-6 months, and not having addressed overall attrition causes. I try to keep these to less than 500 words, so maybe we can explore those numbers in more detail on a separate post. The key is to use a holistic approach that takes advantage of all the assets in your talent management arsenal rather than looking at your talent acquisition department as the bottom line solution.Read more