Learning Development and Attrition Rates

I’m hoping that this article ‘sparks’ much debate on a subject that is often not truly reported upon due to lack of prior planning and perparation in respect to Training Needs Analysis or other Learning development and Human Resource practices that support the management of true employee retention.

Most organisations position themselves uniquely in a common market place by claiming to have exceptional Learning Development, Human Resource procedures and management styles in place that directly impact retention or attrition; hence the absence of a homogenous system. In situations where a common attrition measurement formula is applied, organizations find a way to justify their results to position their statistics differently from their peers, on account of having ‘different’ operating practices.

A considerable amount of organizations use a fairly standard method to calculate attrition – the number of employees who left during the year divided by the average number employed for that year. Some organizations shy away in giving their true attrition rate figures; since the attrition rate could have a direct impact on stock markets, employee morale and customer confidence. There is too much at stake, and the Accounting Standards do not have a standardised way to calculate it.

Attrition rate has always been a sensitive issue for all organizations as it can have major fallout on the bottom-line. This is because the attrition rate is an indicator of many things intrinsic to the organisation, and revealing it may have a negative effect.

Learning development, if implemented in the correct manner has the potential to benefit any organization through improved competitiveness, and its employees through career advancement. The correct implementation of learning can also have a marked affect on an organizations attrition rates, guaranteeing that strategic objectives and core competencies fuel happy employees.

In most organizations, staffing falls under Human Resources. Today’s Human Resource team is usually understaffed and burdened with an administrative function that takes time away from the staffing process. Compounding this lack of resources is that most Human Resource professionals do not have a decision-based approach to help it manage hiring processes. For example, the science of finance helps the accounting function make better decisions. The science of marketing helps drive better sales results, but human resource departments do not have a science based approach that helps it drive better results by understanding how hiring links to performance improvements on the shop floor. This gap is painfully felt in the staffing process. To achieve great staffing results, the process needs to be managed and executed almost like the call centre operations flow where production science takes ownership. Setting metrics and then managing relentlessly towards those metrics each day will help drive down attrition.


Steve Pearce is the founder of Achieve Training & Consultancy - a Dubai based, KHDA approved training company. His expertise covers Workforce Development, Systems Approach to Training, Performance Management and the Learning Development process. Qualified with a Masters degree in Business Administration and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, he holds more than 30 years experience in the L&D industry working in both military and corporate organizations.

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