Reducing Attrition

Clearly, we need a different strategy if we are to create and adequately sustain the new employee support programs we know we need. Just as in business and other noneducational sectors, in education, we have begun to look for a clearer connection between our programs and the ěbottom lineî. The goal has been to collect and present local data which clearly show a monetary value for better support of new employees. This is why the most recent strategy for gaining induction support has been to demonstrate the true cost of employee attrition, which is the negative ěflip sideî of the more positive retention factor. In other words, rather than trying to show the less tangible benefits of increased retention, we must show the cost-effectiveness of decreased attrition.

The Challenge of Employee Attrition- How Bad Is It?

National projections (refr) suggest that, during the decade of 2000-2010 about 1/2 of all teachers nationally will need to be replaced. While these national level data are alarming for educators, both educators and noneducators alike would rather know their own districtís attrition rate AND the actual cost of that attrition to the district and its taxpayers. Clearly, locally specific staff and cost data are better for motivating local action.

All of this means that, for every local school district, the strategic starting point to increased new employee support is to be able to clearly show two factors:

1. The extent of your districtís need to recruit and employ new staff during the next five to ten years.

2. The actual total and per employee costs of employee attrition in your own district.

Districts need to use two ways to establish the first set of data on employment needs:

End-of career attrition, largely a result of retirement

Early career attrition

Reducing End-of Career Attrition

Until recently, district efforts have most often been to offer early retirement packages as incentives to cause attrition of the most senior staff members. The primary motivation has been to reduce the cost of these high salary employees by replacing them with less expensive younger educators. Now that the problems are the quality of teaching and having enough good teachers to staff our classrooms, the challenge has reversed to ěhow can we keep people who might want to retire?î

The starting point for addressing these concerns is the development of a profile of the age of current employees and extrapolating the numbers and dates for their eligibility for retirement. This is an important set of information to know, since you want to target them with retention efforts, or at least, you must be able to replace them. Improving the retention numbers at the end of the career requires a different set of strategies than does increasing retention early in the career. Efforts should primarily focus on increased employee earnings that will increase a pension later, affirmation of the value of elder staff contributions, and on providing new, envigorating leadership responsibilities. Among other possibilities, appointment as a mentor, serving in mentoring roles, and receiving a mentoring stipend fit these needs very well.

Reducing Early Career Attrition

While you need to know and address the number of staff who will retire, you also need to know how many employees are leaving before retirement age. This is a more critical factor to quantify as it is one over which your district can assert considerable influence. Specifically, the district needs to determine the total rate of employee attrition less the number retiring. The goals are to define and target a specific group of people and to do so with a different set of strategies than the end-of-career people need. Since attrition is the ěflip sideî of retention, the retnetion strategies we have discussed are still relevant to address attrition. What is different here is the need to know the cost of attrition. These data can be quite powerful, for they are annually repeating costs which are assumed to be necessary. These costs are so accepted as to have become almost invisble expensens.

Your strategy should have three parts:
  • Find out how bad early career staff attrition really is

    Determine the total district and per employee cost of attrition

    Present in a compelling way, a comparison of the cost of attrition and the cost of induction support for new employees.

If done carefully, you should be able to show that the district is spending MORE on attrition than the cost of induction. In other words, it costs more to do it wrong than it does to do it right! This argument is all the more compelling because your district does not need new money to do an effective job of supporting and keeping new staff. Induction will reduce the amount of money the district is already spending and losing each year to attrition! Induction more than pays for itself every year. Further, while that cost savings alone is enough a reason to do a quality induction program, there are many other reasons as well, like the improving teaching and learning, saving supervisory time, and increasing school improvement momentum, significant nonfinancial benefits in their own right.


Factors to Consider in the Cost of Attrition

Here are some things to consider that demonstrate clear financial costs. You basic need is to know the cost to the district when a new employee leaves teaching or is not rehired?

What you want to identify are your district's costs for:

New employee recruitment, especially for recruiting the kind of diverse staff a great district wants?

Administrative time for trips to job fairs & colleges, screening applications time, interviewing, meetings to make decisions?

Newspaper, journal, internet and other ads

Technology specialist time for placing recruitment and job info on the district web site

Brochure and flyer printing, folding, addressing, and mailing

Personnel staff time processing applications, answering phones, dealing with certifications, and other inquiries, etc.

Cost of background checks

New employee initial orientation

New employee training during the first year or two? (both that just for new employees and all other district training)

Reduced student learning during the year or two that a new employee is learning to teach?

Reduced student learning when a new employee leaves with what they have learned from trial and error, and a different new employee is hired without that hard won experience and starts over at the beginning again.

Loss of instructional continuity when new employees leave or are not rehired because they are not as successful as required?

Administrator time spent orienting, evaluating, coaching, developing, and supporting new employees who are not retained?


Collect these data and figure it out as a cost for each individual employee. Then compare that to the cost of induction per employee. In many districts, you will be thousands of dollars ahead by doing the right thing

From India, Ahmadabad
Hi Ekta Sharma
It was nice of you to share such a good resource with all of us... There is lot of discussion going on in the forum over the attrition rates in the industry...
I see that you are a proffessor from Ahmedabad...
Even I am from Ahmedabad, I am doing my MBA from NICM, Gandhinagar and presently doing my summers from Bangalore...
It would be great if you could give your institute details / contact details... I will get in touch with you when I return to Ahmedabad... Would be of great help in my MBA second year
my contact details are given in my profile page, my blog..

From India, Ahmadabad
hi ekta...
informative article.....good post...but a bit too long...try posting synopsis of the article.... so that people get a brief about the topic...and return to it in leisure....what say????

From India, Mumbai
hi ekta, an informative article, bt if u can give it in short dat helps to look for oder topics also dips
From India, Delhi

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