Viewpoint: Does Attrition Still Matter?

It’s time for HR to catch up with the new realities of employment.


Recently, a CEO posed this question to a colleague of mine who leads HR for a midsize organization: “How can we reduce the attrition occurring throughout the company?” At first blush, that seems like a pretty good question. But many of our views of attrition remain anchored in the past. Consider the following: 

People are changing jobs more frequently. Most workers stay with their employers for just over four years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that number is trending downward. For those between ages 25 and 34, the median tenure is just three years.

  • Young employees are restless. Gallup reports that 60 percent of Millennials are open to new job opportunities.
  • Employment relationships are changing. The Government Accountability Office reports that slightly more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is made up of contingent workers, including temps, the self-employed and part-timers. That’s up from about 31 percent in 2005, and it is expected to rise to perhaps 50 percent or more in the next decade.
  • Talent is in charge. As of August, unemployment stood at 4.4 percent. The tight U.S. labor market means that people have more career options and leverage.

In today’s world of employment, attrition just doesn’t matter as much as it used to.

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