Employee attrition is when a company’s workforce is diminished due to unfilled vacancies and the elimination of jobs. Traditionally, it was a key measurement for human resources (HR) departments. However, Strategic Human Resources Executive and Leader, Daniel Sonsino, suggests that we might be looking at attrition the wrong way. 

In an article for SHRM, Daniel mentions that it’s time for HR departments to stop fearing attrition. The reality is that the world of work has changed irreversibly; people have become multi-skilled and tend to job-hop more frequently. This requires a new approach to managing attrition.

A New Approach To Employee Attrition

Focus On Retaining Valued Employees

Identifying your most valuable employees is not always an instinctive or easy task. It could be the CFO, or it could be the multi-tasking receptionist. Daniel identifies three key positions where people need extra nurturing. 

One, those with the most knowledge of your business’s intellectual property. Two, individuals who would bring your business to a halt if they left. And, three, influencers who others turn to for information to get the job done and so move the business forward.

Welcome Former Employees To Your Alumni Network

If, despite all your efforts, your star employee leaves, see this as an opportunity to welcome them to your corporate alumni network and turn them into brand advocates. Engage with them on both a personal and professional level to keep track of their career path and promotions. 

Ex-employees could become business partners and even potential clients. The top prize is recruiting them back to your organization once they have gained even more skills.

Engage HR With The Executive team

HR needs to rework their strategies to involve managers and executives. This allows for shared accountability and support in employee attrition.

For example, Daniel suggests that should a valued employee leave, you could give them a tentative job offer as an opening to return to your organization down the line. This kind of open-return policy reassures others that your company culture is forward-thinking and serious about re-employment.

Create A Workforce-Composition Strategy

Today, approximately 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is contingent and made up of freelancers, contractors, temps, and part-time workers. This figure is set to increase with the changes brought through the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Managing attrition when almost half of the workforce is contingent labor requires a tighter focus on W2 employees, especially those who are critical to the business. 

One way to manage attrition is to onboard critical non-permanent staff as full-time employees and transition permanent staff to contingent status. The strategy behind this will depend on their personal needs as well as those of your organization.


The new, fluid workforce environment puts the employee in charge. Retaining access to this talent doesn’t have to come with a label of a full-time position, though. 

Stemming employee attrition is expensive and not always possible. Besides, a degree of turnover is healthy for any business. As Daniel says, rather focus on allocating your time, money, and effort to approaches that nurture vital talent you can then leverage to maximize your future workforce. 

To get early access to The Alumni Advantage, sign up to the mailing list. Authored by James Sinclair, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of EnterpriseAlumni, the book provides an end-to-end understanding of how organizations recognize and leverage their former employees.