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  • Writer's pictureAbhijit Shankaran

Attrition and Employee Engagement is Rocket Science (NOT!)

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first. -Angela Ahrendts- (Former SVP Apple Retail, CEO Burberry)

Attrition is a long-running issue for business, but despite its apparent complexity, it boils down to people and how they interact at work. This blog will examine how communication is in itself multi-faceted and is essentially a tool for cohesiveness across a multigenerational workforce.

Understanding Generations: Beyond Age

Different generations bring different perspectives and experiences to the workplace. It's important to remember that everybody, regardless of age, was once new to the workforce even though each generation may have its own distinctive characteristics. The opportunities and priorities of their time influenced the careers they chose.

A diverse group of individuals collaborating on a jigsaw puzzle, focusing intently on fitting the pieces together.

Values in Flux - The Root Cause of Attrition among Gen-Z

Let's deep dive into the root cause of Gen-Z attrition as an example. Of course, this is simply to demonstrate their pain points and not to generalize or single out an individual. Born between 1997 and 2012, the Gen-Z generation is entering the workforce with values strongly shaped by their exposure to the world via social media. This is also why this generation is called the 'Digital Native' generation for being the first generation to be born entirely in the technology era. They are more likely than previous generations to change jobs frequently, and there are a number of reasons for this trend. Firstly, there has been a significant acceleration in the rate of technological advancement. The introduction of major innovations would happen much later in time, such as the change from landline telephones to the first mobile phones. However times have changed, new technologies and smartphones are released every few months, and this constant change directly the nature and pace of work. A lot of roles are becoming redundant even as newer roles are being created, simply considering the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science. These changes are happening not only rapidly but also courtesy of social media and the internet, there is an abundance of information available to be easily and quickly consumed. There are hence abundant options to pick and choose from ranging from shopping and entertainment to job opportunities and online courses. The Gen-Z generation places a high value on keeping up with the most recent developments in order to thrive in this fast-paced environment. Their strategy is characterized by astute decision-making and a deliberate understanding that staying current need not be restricted to their line of work. According to this viewpoint, employees may not be as devoted to a specific employer as they once were because they are willing to consider new opportunities that fit with their values and skill set.

In light of this, employers need to change their emphasis from retaining Gen-Z employees to making sure that they leave the company on good terms when they decide to. Businesses can accomplish this by leaving a positive impression on Gen-Z workers while they are employed by them. Organizations can maintain a positive brand image even in the event that an employee decides to leave by exhibiting a willingness to adapt and keep up with the latest trends and technologies. In addition to aiding in the recruitment and retention of talent, this collaborative approach acts as a window into the world from the viewpoint of this generation of digital natives. In the end, it comes down to realizing that the Gen-Z generation values flexibility, judgment, and lifelong learning, and that adopting these qualities can benefit both employers and workers.

The 3 C's of Communication: A Generational Glue

The key to bridging generations in the workplace is communication. It bridges generational gaps and satisfies the universal demand for role and career clarity. It runs on three major tenets:

1. Consistency of Messaging:

Make sure the company's messages are consistent at all levels and in all mediums to foster unity and reduce misunderstanding. This is easier said than done because even among different generations, there are differences in thought processes and conditioning. In fact, this is a test of leadership both at a top level and a middle management level to ensure that the entire organization breathes its core values.

2. Clarity of Thought:

Be clear in your communication and avoid any ambiguity. Employees can better understand their responsibilities and the expectations of the company with this clarity. Circling back to the section earlier on Gen-Z attrition, thoughtful messaging is in consideration on how they can further their careers, mentoring sessions and if possible, a workshop on personal financing. All of these approaches when done holistically convey an organization's interest in an employee's well-being beyond their professional life.

3. Consciousness of Approach:

Communicate sensitively and mindfully about individual differences to make sure that everyone feels heard and respected. The consciousness of approach extends to active listening, where you genuinely listen to what others are saying, without judgment or preconceived notions. This encourages candid and open communication, which makes it simpler for employees to voice their opinions and concerns. In practice, this entails taking into account the influence of your words and actions on others. It encompasses avoiding preconceptions, prejudices, and biases in favour of attempting to understand the individual behind the function they perform within the business.

The Role of Metrics in attrition and employee engagement

Although monitoring attrition rates offers valuable information, it's crucial to keep in mind that every circumstance is different. Metrics should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive strategy to identify and address the root cause of concerns with attrition and employee engagement. The upcoming section elaborates upon this statement.

Harmonizing Values and Policies

Keeping company values and policies in harmony can be difficult. To develop a culture that employees can identify with, businesses must authentically align their values with their policies.

Navigating Intra and Inter-Generational Dynamics

Understanding generational dynamics is just as crucial as understanding intergenerational dynamics.:

- Intra-Generational Dynamics:

Within the same generation, different people may have different needs and preferences. Communication that is tailored to these subtleties can improve engagement.

- Inter-Generational Dynamics:

It's crucial to acknowledge both the differences and similarities between generations. Innovation and success can be fueled by taking advantage of each generation's distinct strengths and perspectives.

Enhancing Cross-Generational Communication

The improvement of intergenerational communication can be accomplished through mentorship programs, workshops, and public forums where staff members can share their knowledge and experiences.

A businessman sprinting towards the door, eager to seize the opportunity symbolized by a rupee sign.

Streamlining Management Communication

Every level of a company should have effective communication. Maintaining openness and consistency in messages requires top, middle, and lower management to be in sync.

In conclusion, while acknowledging that attrition is a significant challenge, it ultimately boils down to recognizing and appealing to people of different generations. Addressing this issue requires effective communication based on the three C's: Consistency, Clarity, and Consciousness. Organizations may transform attrition into an opportunity for growth and unity by respecting each generation's unique contributions and establishing a workplace where people want to stay.


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