Ritu Rawal

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hello... every one I am doing my final year MBA(HR), & i want to do a research study on attrition rate in BPO’s can any body help me please... by giving some ideas to prepare questionnaire...
From India, Mangaluru

High Attrition Rate: A Big Challenge

Defining attrition: "A reduction in the number of employees through retirement, resignation or death"

Defining Attrition rate: "the rate of shrinkage in size or number"

Introduction: In the best of worlds, employees would love their jobs, like their coworkers, work hard for their employers, get paid well for their work, have ample chances for advancement, and flexible schedules so they could attend to personal or family needs when necessary. And never leave.

But then there's the real world. And in the real world, employees, do leave, either because they want more money, hate the working conditions, hate their coworkers, want a change, or because their spouse gets a dream job in another state. So, what does all that turnover cost? And what employees are likely to have the highest turnover? Who is likely to stay the longest?

Background of article

The IT enabled services (BPO) industry is being looked upon as the next big employment generator (Nasscom predicts 1.1 million job requirement by the year 2008). It is however no easy task for an HR manager in this sector to bridge the ever increasing demand and supply gap of professionals. Unlike his software industry counterpart, the BPO HR manager is not only required to fulfill this responsibility, but also find the right kind of people who can keep pace with the unique work patterns in this industry. Adding to this is the issue of maintaining consistency in performance and keeping the motivation levels high, despite the monotonous work. The toughest concern for an HR manager is however the high attrition rate.

In India, the average attrition rate in the BPO sector is approximately 30-35 percent. It is true that this is far less than the prevalent attrition rate in the US market (around 70 percent), but the challenge continues to be greater considering the recent growth of the industry in the country. The US BPO sector is estimated to be somewhere around three decades old. Keeping low attrition levels is a major challenge as the demand outstrips the supply of good agents by a big margin. Further, the salary growth plan for each employee is not well defined. All this only encourages poaching by other companies who can offer a higher salary.

The much hyped "work for fun" tag normally associated with the industry has in fact backfired, as many individuals (mostly fresh graduates), take it as a pas-time job. Once they join the sector and understand its requirements, they are taken aback by the long working hours and later monotony of the job starts setting in. This is the reason for the high attrition rate as many individuals are not able to take the pressures of work.

The toughness of the job and timings is not adequately conveyed. Besides the induction and project training, not much investment has been done to evolve a "continuous training program" for the agents. Motivational training is still to evolve in this industry. But, in all this, it is the HR manager who is expected to straighten things out and help individuals adjust to the real world. I believe that the new entrant needs to be made aware of the realistic situation from day-one itself, with the training session conducted in the nights, so that they get accustomed to things right at the beginning.

The high percentage of females in the workforce (constituting 30-35 percent of the total), adds to the high attrition rate. Most women leave their job either after marriage or because of social pressures caused by irregular working hours in the industry. All this translates into huge losses for the company, which invests a lot of money in training them.

If a person leaves after the training it costs the company about Rs 60,000. For a 300-seater call centre facing the normal 30 percent attrition, this translates into Rs 60 lakh per annum. Many experts are of believe that all these challenges can turn out to be a real dampener in the growth of this industry. This only raises the responsibility of "finding the right candidate" and building a "conducive work environment", which will be beneficial for the organization. The need is for those individuals who can make a career out of this.

All this has induced the companies to take necessary steps, both internally and externally. Internally most HR managers are busy putting in efforts on the development of their employees, building innovative retention and motivational schemes (which was more money oriented so far) and making the environment livelier. Outside, the focus is on creating awareness through seminars and going to campuses for recruitment.

Major Worries for the Industry

• Reckless Start-ups- a vast majority of the 310 start-ups are headed for a dead-end (according to Nasscom). Their capacity utilization is less than one of the three shifts. Many of these companies that converted their empty basements and warehouses into BPO units or firms with $10 million-20 million VC funds that ran out of cash without creating anything more than white elephants. They have driven down prices to grab business, but have failed to deliver. They were always clueless about people, processes or technologies- the three key elements of the BPO business.

• Poor Infrastructure- the industry has more to worry about than just reckless start-ups. Primary among those is infrastructure. While telecom networks are state of the art, getting a connection still takes up to three months. Unreliable power supply is forcing units to create their own back-ups. Roads are bad and airports are in dire need of repairs and upgrades.

• High Attrition-another major problem is the high attrition and growth aspirations of the workforce. At least 60,000 of the 171,000 workforce change jobs every year. About 80% of them look for better leaders. Team leaders want to upgrade to supervisors, quality professionals or operations heads. The HR problem threatens to soon become grave. Good agents are becoming hard to find and with tardy infrastructure, big moves to the much talked about smaller towns will take longer. This means costs will rise making it difficult for small VC-funded companies to survive.

Attrition rates

US 42%

Australia 29%

Europe 24%

India 18%

Global Average 24%

* Source-Times News New York

Purpose of Writing this Article

Staff attrition (or turnover) and absenteeism represent significant costs to most organizations. It is odd, therefore, that many organizations neither measure such costs nor have targets or plans to reduce them. Many organizations appear to accept them as part of the cost of doing business - a sign of increasing job mobility and decreasing staff loyalty perhaps, a matter to be regretted but just 'one of those things.' They add a sum in their budgets for 'temp staff' and 'recruitment' and forget about it.

However, it seems to be one of the areas in which HR can make a difference - and one that can be measured in quantifiable, financial terms against targets.

An attrition rate in call (or contact) centres has become legendary. Indeed, the attrition rates in some Indian call centers now reach 80%. This is an extreme figure but the average attrition rates in Indian call centers are up around 30-40%.

However, it is interesting to note that the attrition rates in India - and the costs associated - are so high that they can override the benefits of lower wage costs. While wages in call centres in Indian are less than one-eighth of those in Northern Europe, it has been reported that Hewlett-Packard have found the cost per 'ticket' (the cost of processing a query) has doubled "due to the inability of the staff to resolve customer queries efficiently because of language barriers and inexperience." It is said that this increased cost has made HP's move from Ireland to India "completely pointless," and that it can never recover the (substantial) costs of the move. It is further reported that GE Capital has moved a call centre back to Australia "after staff attrition rates of 70% wiped away any potential cost savings."

The issue is not with the quality or education of the staff - and still less with the investment in technology. It is simply attrition - people do not stay long enough to be taught or to learn the job. The staff may be cheaper but if they cannot do the job, what's the point? Managing attrition is not just a 'nice thing to do' in Indian call centres. It is the route to their survival.

Far from accepting attrition rates as part of the cost of doing business, it is surely something that all organizations should address, and equally surely it is an area in which HR can take a lead - measure attrition, seek its causes, set out solutions and target performance.

Components to be taken into consideration, while calculating attrition rate

I request HR professionals not to drive their own formulas to calculate attrition rate. In terms of numbers, attrition rate means:

Total Number of Resigns per month (Whether voluntary or forced) divided by (Total Number of employees at the beginning of the month plus total number of new joinees minus total number of resignations) multiplied by 100.

If calculating in monetary terms, it includes the following:

Costs Due to a Person Leaving

1. Calculate the cost of the person(s) who fills in while the position is vacant. Calculate the cost of lost productivity at a minimum of 50% of the person's compensation and benefits cost for each week the position is vacant, even if there are people performing the work. Calculate the lost productivity at 100% if the position is completely vacant for any period of time.

2. Calculate the cost of conducting an exit interview to include the time of the person conducting the interview, the time of the person leaving, the administrative costs of stopping payroll, benefit deductions, benefit enrollments.

3. Calculate the cost of the manager who has to understand what work remains, and how to cover that work until a replacement is found.

4. Calculate the cost of training your company has invested in this employee who is leaving.

5. Calculate the impact on departmental productivity because the person is leaving. Who will pick up the work, whose work will suffer, what departmental deadlines will not be met or delivered late.

6. Calculate the cost of lost knowledge, skills and contacts that the person who is leaving is taking with them out of your door. Use a formula of 50% of the person's annual salary for one year of service, increasing each year of service by 10%.

7. Subtract the cost of the person who is leaving for the amount of time the position is vacant.

Recruitment Costs

1. The cost of advertisements; agency costs; employee referral costs; internet posting costs.

2. The cost of the internal recruiter's time to understand the position requirements, develop and implement a sourcing strategy, review candidates backgrounds, prepare for interviews, conduct interviews, prepare candidate assessments, conduct reference checks, make the employment offer and notify unsuccessful candidates. This can range from a minimum of 30 hours to over 100 hours per position.

3. Calculate the cost of the various candidate pre-employment tests to help assess a candidates' skills, abilities, aptitude, attitude, values and behaviors.

Training Costs

1. Calculate the cost of orientation in terms of the new person's salary and the cost of the person who conducts the orientation. Also include the cost of orientation materials.

2. Calculate the cost of departmental training as the actual development and delivery cost plus the cost of the salary of the new employee. Note that the cost will be significantly higher for some positions such as sales representatives and call center agents who require 4 - 6 weeks or more of classroom training.

3. Calculate the cost of the person(s) who conduct the training.

4. Calculate the cost of various training materials needed including company or product manuals, computer or other technology equipment used in the delivery of training.

Lost Productivity Costs

As the new employee is learning the new job, the company policies and practices, etc. they are not fully productive. Use the following guidelines to calculate the cost of this lost productivity:

1. Upon completion of whatever training is provided, the employee is contributing at a 25% productivity level for the first 2 - 4 weeks. The cost therefore is 75% of the new employees full salary during that timeperiod.

2. During weeks 5 - 12, the employee is contributing at a 50% productivity level. The cost is therefore 50% of full salary during that timeperiod.

3. During weeks 13 - 20, the employee is contributing at a 75% productivity level. The cost is therefore 25% of full salary during that timeperiod.

4. Calculate the cost of mistakes the new employee makes during this elongated indoctrination period.

New Hire Costs

1. Calculate the cost of bring the new person on board including the cost to put the person on the payroll, establish computer and security passwords and identification cards, telephone hookups, cost of establishing email accounts, or leasing other equipment such as cell phones, automobiles.

2. Calculate the cost of a manager's time spent developing trust and building confidence in the new employee's work.

Lost Sales Costs

1. Calculate the revenue per employee by dividing total company revenue by the average number of employees in a given year. Whether an employee contributes directly or indirectly to the generation of revenue, their purpose is to provide some defined set of responsibilities that are necessary to the generation of revenue. Calculate the lost revenue by multiplying the number of weeks the position is vacant by the average weekly revenue per employee.

Conclusion: It is clear that there are massive costs associated with attrition or turnover and, while some of these are not visible to the management reporting or budget system, they are none the less real. The 'rule of thumb' appears to be very inaccurate indeed and, while it depends upon the category of staff, it is probably better to estimate around 80% of salary as a truer rule of thumb - and this will be on the conservative side.

What does this mean? Well it means that if a company has 100 people doing a certain job paid 25,000 and that turnover or attrition is running at 10%, the cost of attrition is:

(Total staff x attrition rate %) x (annual salary x 80%)

• 100 staff at 10% attrition means 10 people leave and are replaced each year.

• A replacement cost of 80% of a salary of 25,000 means the cost of each replacement is 20,000.

• The cost of turnover is therefore 10 x 20,000 or 200,000 a year.

• The oncost to the overall salary bill is 8%.

(Saving 8% of salary costs would make the average HR manager a hero.)

From India, Hyderabad
Hello Sari:

Nice article.

What is the source of the article may I ask?

Some of the text looks like it is from the article Cost of Turnover by Bill Bliss or our Excel workbook "The Bliss-Gately Tool", see example below.

From your message.



Calculate the cost of lost knowledge, skills and contacts that the person who is leaving is taking with them out of your door. Use a formula of 50% of the person's annual salary for one year of service, increasing each year of service by 10%.

From our workbook


Line CIA8

Calculate the cost of lost knowledge, skills and contacts that the person who is leaving is taking with them out of your door (e.g., take 50% of the person's annual salary and then increase it by 10% for each year of service).


Bob Gately

From United States, Chelsea
Thanks Amit..
Hi Bob, as mentioned this article was earlier posted and discussed here in the forum, i found it very interesting...useful.......so thought of sharing it...when someone were very keen on this topic....
I apologize if iam not supposed to..

From India, Hyderabad
Dear All,
I am a faculty and pursuing M.Phil. The topic of dissertation is Attrition Rate in Banking Sector.
Can anybody help in this concern?
Though the above article has helped me a lot in understanding the concept and how to calculate the attrition rate.
I must thank everybody on this forum who had contributed for this topic.
I must also appreciate the efforts of the people behind citehr.com. Really a nice experience to visit citehr.
Thanks & Regards

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