What drives Attrition and Retention

Written by Larry Fehd, CEO & Founder / HPS

Most leaders have good intentions, and these intentions are usually recognized and appreciated by employees. However, despite these best intentions, many leadership behaviors often have limited impact on reducing attrition and increasing retention of key talent. In fact, they may have the opposite effect by increasing attrition and reducing retention of our best people.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory is perhaps the most common and widely accepted explanation for basic human needs. Many of our employees’ basic needs are already being provided for as a function of employment. However, when we consider the major drivers of attrition and retention, we discover some very different types of needs from our employees.

Bud Haney and Jim Sirbasku of Profiles International recently published a new book entitled 40 Strategies for Winning in Business (S & H Publishing, 2004).

In their book, Haney and Sirbasku discuss “How to Become an Employer of Choice.” In summary, their research suggests the following key steps toward becoming an employer of choice and, importantly, the impact on reducing attrition and increasing retention of key talent in your organization.

  1. Evaluate your managers (i.e., people leave people, not jobs).
  2. Create a recognition culture.
  3. Create a healthy work environment.
  4. Create an atmosphere of continual self-improvement.
  5. Put your best foot forward.

Their research suggests that of the job-leavers surveyed:

  • 30% were unhappy with management and the way they managed.
  • 25% felt they got no recognition for good work.
  • 20% complained of limited opportunities for advancement.
  • 15% cited inadequate salary and benefits (low, isn’t it).
  • 5% were bored with the job.
  • 5% cited other reasons (retirement, career change, sabbatical,
    and travel).

Job-leavers confirmed that poor leadership was the greatest single factor that influenced their decision to leave.

Investing in Leadership Development is an attrition counter-measure and a savvy business investment.

One of the most effective methods of leadership development is 360-degree feedback. This process provides leaders with feedback from their bosses, peers, and direct reports along with recommendations to improve performance in targeted developmental areas. It provides an objective process to improve specific leadership behaviors which are essential to reducing attrition and increasing retention of key talent.

One such web-based tool, developed by Profiles International, is called CheckPoint 360º — Competency Feedback System™. CheckPoint SkillBuilder™ is a follow-on web-based development tool which consists of tips and action steps for improving leadership effectiveness.

HPS is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with Profiles International. We are teaming up with Profiles International because of their unique, high-quality, web-based assessments that cost-effectively solve the most common employee-related problems in today’s business environment. These assessments are, quite simply, the most powerful, easy-to-understand, and infinitely customizable business management tools ever created.

Leadership Best Practices featured an article last year, What’s Your Organization’s Unique Employee Value Proposition?, that described some aspects of how to become an employer of choice. You may wish to review the article in the context of employee attrition and retention.

The following Leadership Best Practices™ articles expand on the topic of employee attrition and retention as well as leadership effectiveness. We hope you will find them of value as you evaluate leadership development initiatives in your organization.

HPS works with senior business leaders who want to perform at their best and inspire the best from their people.

Bridging the Gap
To learn more about Profiles International employee assessment and developmental tools and leadership development in your organization, contact us and we will be happy to provide you with more information.

Larry Fehd


Larry Fehd is CEO and founded Human Performance Strategies (HPS) in 2000 following a successful career with Johnson & Johnson where he led executive leadership, team and organizational development. He is masterful at helping clients to break through inertia and the status quo.  He conceived the new and proprietary concept of Invitational Leadership™. He envisions the future of leadership as a passage beyond inertia and status quo and works with clients to develop invitational leaders at all levels of the organization.  He consults to a diverse group of U.S. and international clientele, and speaks and writes about, building high-performance leaders, cultures, teams and organizations.

(512) 415-0748

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