Home >Companies >News >Focus on employees’ strengths for retention

It is quite common among Indian companies to position themselves as the “best career destination", “employer of choice", and the “best place to work!" But sadly despite such focus, retaining employees remains an issue for them. For instance, for the quarter ended 30 June, India’s leading information technology firm Infosys Ltd reported an attrition rate of 16.9% compared with 16.3% in the preceding quarter and 14.95% a year earlier.

According to a recent report by human resource consulting company Hay Group, India is likely to witness the highest attrition rate in the world with the possibility of one in four employees switching jobs. The report highlights concerns among Indian employees about their career objectives to be the key reason for switching jobs.

Organizational behavioural experts from London Business School offer some solutions. Their recent research suggests that new hires were at least 60% less likely to leave within a period of a few months if they went through an onboarding process that, instead of indoctrinating new employees into the organizational culture, focused on their individual strengths.

The researchers found that traditional methods of onboarding have serious weaknesses based as they are on the assumption that organizational values can be taught and adopted by newcomers by downplaying their own identities. The researchers point out that “subordinating one’s identity and unique perspectives may not be optimal in the long run for either the organization or the individual employee because suppressing one’s identity is upsetting and psychologically depleting… Socialization practices that get newcomers to behave inauthentically might not be sustainable because they do not fully engage the employee and they do not address broader issues concerning emotional exhaustion and work dissatisfaction".

As a part of their field work, they conducted a controlled experiment at Wipro BPO, the Bangalore-based business process outsourcing company that provides telephone and chat support for global customers. They studied the impact of a pattern of socialization on newcomers at Wipro who had joined the company between November 2010 and January 2011. These incoming employees were divided into three groups, each offering newcomers a different first day experience, but otherwise the activities were identical. Group one emphasized individual identity, group two emphasized organizational identity, and group three followed Wipro’s traditional onboarding process. The performance of employees was measured through customer satisfaction ratings. The results suggested that there were stronger employment relationships, lower employee turnover and greater customer satisfaction when the initial socialization process focused on newcomers’ personal identities rather than organizational identity or job description. Thus, to retain employees and boost their morale, organizations are well advised to encourage their employees to exploit their unique strengths.

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