HRLegal Newsletter February 2022: Worried about staff leaving?

Welcome to the first ever edition of the HRLegal Newsletter. This monthly collection of focused features seeks to keep readers abreast of all updates in the quickly developing world of human resources and employment law. This February 2022, as we enter a new and hopefully “unrestricted” year, we enter a new world and way of working and HRLegal is at hand for all advice in relation to all things people and HR. Our responsive and personable team of experts are available by phone, email and via our social media channels for any support they can provide.

Read on for explainers and features compiled by our experts, Una Clifford, Bláthnaid Evans and James Condon. For more on how we can assist your business, visit www.hrlegal.ie.

A War of Attrition: How to reduce the impact of leavers on your business
James Condon, HR Business Partner

In our first ever edition of the HRLegal Newsletter, we are expanding on one of our recent social media posts which provided some tips on managing attrition.

The start of each New Year always brings questions from our clients on talent and how best to approach the topic of retention and this year has been no different.  The easing of restrictions has only increased the demand for talent, and it is essential that businesses put an early focus on ways to retain their talent.  

2021 brought about significant challenges for businesses in this area with the rise of the Great Resignation and massive increase in the number of available roles. The traditional power dynamic between employer and employee has changed over the past few years. HRLegal has been working very successfully with its clients to reduce the impact of attrition in terms of skills loss, costs and operational challenges and we believe the below tips are a very useful start when looking to formulate a mitigation strategy.  

Workforce planning and identifying trends

January and February are excellent months to engage in workforce planning. Many of our clients use these first couple of months to build their staffing plans for the year and the most successful clients also factor in the probability of losing staff.  Creating staffing plans around the year ahead is extremely useful and allows a business to sync its people strategy with the business plan.

Attrition is inevitable in all industries. However, its impact and the fear it generates can be greatly reduced when it has already been pre-empted. There can be patterns around attrition in terms of times of the year, positions, costs associated and looking back over previous years data (if available) can be useful when trying to plan. Keeping a record of attrition and using the data obtained can be a very powerful tool in tackling attrition. Data provides objectivity and can reduce some of the mistruths or biases that may linger within management around why attrition is occurring.  

In keeping with the message to plan and to use data to identify trends, HRLegal suggests using exit interviews. Some businesses and managers do not see exit interviews as providing value as they believe employees see them as a tick-box exercise. While this may be true in certain circumstances, HRLegal believes that having the right structure and environment for an exit interview can allow an employer to gain extremely valuable nuggets of information.  The data that can be obtained can also be used to identify trends and can sometimes provide forewarning on issues that may be about to arise. It is important to ensure you are asking the right questions and taking the time to listen to what is being said.
 
Increasing communication and reducing skills gaps

Communication will be key for the year ahead when looking to manage attrition. The pandemic brought about a decrease in direct communication between managers and employees in many businesses and this has directly impacted attrition. The word ‘Isolation’ has been synonymous with the past two years and employee isolation has been a major trend. The impact of a large majority of people working from home for an extended period of time is now evident in a lot of businesses with an increase in performance issues in certain cases and reductions in employee engagement. Employers should look to conduct ‘taking the pulse’ exercises to ascertain the mood and views of employees. This should be viewed in a similar way to exit interviews for leavers as it can provide some very valuable information from current employees when conducted correctly.

Businesses should also look to carry out skills assessments of its current workforce and teams. HRLegal has seen many businesses become too reliant on one individual or team and a sudden loss of this resource can have a huge impact. A skills assessment can help by identifying ‘knowledge holders’ and potential risks should this person or team leave. These types of assessments can be built into an attrition contingency plan and can be very beneficial when the knowledge or skills are in short supply. Once the business has carried out a skills assessment, it should then look to close any gaps or potential risks by looking at areas such as onsite training, workshops or further education opportunities. Improving the skill base of your workforce and the sharing of responsibilities lessens the impact of a leaver, but may also provide the added benefit of increased tenure for staff who are only considering leaving due to a perceived lack of opportunities. It may show them that they are valuable.
If your business is concerned by its attrition levels or would like to discuss any of the items mentioned, please visit www.hrlegal.ie.
Quick clicks

Social media is a great way for HRLegal to engage with HR-related conversations globally and brief our followers with explainers on the more perplexing, intriguing, or newsworthy issues on the topic. Have a look at some of our latest social media updates:

Did you know Ireland is getting a new public holiday?

Did you know that Ireland’s minimum wage has increased?

Want to know more about the Great Resignation or what we can learn from 2021?

For regular topical updates like these, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.