An HR Glossary for HR Terms


What is Attrition?

Attrition refers to the gradual reduction in the size or strength of a workforce over time through the voluntary or involuntary departure of employees. Unlike traditional hiring practices, attrition involves the deliberate choice of organizations not to replace departing individuals, leading to a natural downsizing of the workforce.

What are the causes of attrition?

Employees can leave for several reasons, with some common ones being:

  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Moving to a different location
  • Temporary or permanent illness
  • Opportunities with better pay and growth potential
  • Retirement
  • Termination

What are the benefits and drawbacks of attrition?

Attrition can be part of a deliberate workforce strategy. Organizations can benefit from:

  • Increased cost savings: Companies can reduce staffing costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training of new hires, and salary payments.
  • Internal restructuring: Attrition gives organizations the opportunity to reassess team compositions, roles, and responsibilities to ensure they are aligned with strategic objectives. By realigning resources, companies can ensure tasks and workflows continue in an efficient manner. 
  • Employee development: Organizations can empower and nurture existing employees to promote further innovation and development opportunities. These initiatives can foster a sense of engagement, commitment, and loyalty, contributing to a positive workplace culture. 

However, high attrition can have drawbacks. Some common challenges include:

  • Potential skill gaps: With a reduction in expertise, organizations may be faced with prominent skill gaps that need to be addressed, which can impact productivity in the short-term.
  • Increased workload: Departing employees can leave behind duties that need to be filled. Taking on these responsibilities can increase the workload of current employees, potentially impacting their job satisfaction and work-life balance.

How can organizations reduce the attrition rate?

Reducing attrition involves developing and maintaining an attractive environment that employees want to work in. Companies can consider:

  • Providing better benefits to existing employees
  • Improving the work environment
  • Offering access to training and development resources
  • Incorporate mentorship programs
  • Provide consistent recognition and reward meaningful work

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