We visit a shop in the old market area of Kalbadevi in Mumbai that sells bed sheets, towels, linens etc. A small nondescript shop, it caters to a dedicated set of repeat customers, who trust the quality and pricing and value personal touch. For years, we have seen the same person assisting the owner in managing the shop. During my last visit, I couldn’t help but ask the person about number of years spent by him at the shop. Expectedly, he joined there immediately upon finishing his school and was on the verge of completing 4 decades of his association with the owner. I tried to analyse the reason for such longevity of a person at a simple trading shop! Has he not attrited because of his limited qualification or is it due to his lack of skills to pursue any other activity? Has the owner used any of the well practised retention strategies – ESOP, promotion, hefty bonus, HR initiatives etc? The answer to both the questions is rather elusive.
This is the case of an ordinarily educated and skilled person sticking to a workplace probably due to severe limitations that would bar him from doing anything more rewarding. But what about highly educated and skilled personnel spending a lifetime in the house of TATAs and Birlas, retiring from the companies after holding senior positions that they joined as apprentices and trainees?
I think it’s something to do with personal touch that some of the business houses and entrepreneurs provide that set them apart from hordes of other companies that are today witnessing unprecedented attrition rates! People are people and they do have bad times that could impact their performance and output. But whether such people need to be thrown out appraised on a mathematics based PMS or need to be helped in seeing through their difficult phase, is a question that companies and their managers need to ask themselves!
It’s indeed true that today’s generation is more impetuous, restless and ambitious and there are wider opportunities available to them to shift. But there are organisations who are ready to invest in their people – not only in training and upskilling them- but by going that extra mile in touching their hearts. My take is that this cut throat competition amongst organisations for the best talent is going to persist and similarly good talent is going to be flooded with a plethora of opportunities. Organisations that capture the hearts of this talented and precious lot will succeed in longer run in addressing this acute problem of attrition that the corporate world is trying to grapple with.