Controlling Attrition through Attachment

Written by Anthony Sork, Managing Director, Sork HC


Leading Human Capital consulting firm Sork HC has developed an online 90 Day Post Induction Survey using PeoplePulse which measures the degree to which a new employee is bonded or “attached” to their organisation within their first 90 days of employment.

The Attachment & Risk Report is created from the Survey and provides Managers and HR Departments with critical information on the perceptions of the new employee and also provides them with recommendations on how to correct any negative perceptions. Likewise, recruitment companies can use this tool to demonstrate ongoing value to their clients beyond the initial probationary period.

The value of this tool is in the Risk Rating and Recommendations that an organisation will receive for each new candidate upon their 90th day of employment.

No industry is spared the frustration of investing money, time and effort in the process of finding, recruiting and training new employees, only to find 9 to 18 months later they resign.

This unfortunately occurs just as the business is likely to start to get a return on their investment and is common across most industries. It is not only the regret at the lost investment made, but also the lost opportunity in losing someone who could have made it.

For many, this frustration leads to rationalising these occurrences in ways that make it excusable. In their minds the loss is justifiably uncontrollable.

Have you ever caught yourself or your managers saying:

“No matter how much I told them about how hard the job would be – they were just not cut out for sales”


“This just wasn’t the right place for them as they did not seem to fit in from day 1”


“It was all going so well, but they decided to take a different direction with their career”.

As much as we may like to blame fate or some other force beyond our control, attrition that is linked directly to attachment of employee’s, is well within our control. To date we have just not been in a position to identify measure and control attachment – until now.

The first 135 days of employment are the most critical in the establishment of perceptions of trust, fairness, pride, security, belonging and contribution for a new employee (attachment).

The state of attachment has a high correlation with employee retention and attrition rates that occur within the first 18 months of employment. The higher the level of attachment, the lower the risk of attrition and the higher the level of performance.

Based on research conducted by Sork HC and using applied psychological models of human behaviour, we have developed a tool to measure and assess the relative attachment of a new employee to the organisation at the 90 day point of employment.


Figure 1

Organisations that achieve a “high medium” to “high high” level of attachment of employees (see Figure 2), show significantly higher levels of competency, performance and retention of employees than organisations that achieve “low low” to “low medium” levels.

Best Employer research demonstrates significantly higher levels of bottom line performance of organisations and reduced recruitment and training costs associated with high levels of attachment.

Measuring attachment is only the first (but most critical) phase in the process of addressing attrition caused by poor attachment. Sork HC research has identified 20 drivers of attachment that can be measured at Individual, Team and Organisation Levels.

1. Accuracy of Job Representation
2. Business Awareness
3. Central Messages
4. Climate & Culture
5. Co-Workers
6. Incremental Learning
7. Learning Path
8. Manager Alignment & Accessibility
9. Orientation
10. Performance Objectives
11. Personal Vision & Career Path
12. Physical Work Environment & Resources
13. Pre-Employment
14. Reasons for Joining
15. Recruitment & Selection
16. Rotation
17. Safety & Behaviour
18. Senior Leadership

Once measured at the 90 day mark, organisations have another 30 – 45 days to correct low attachment drivers (move them to High Medium or above) in order to achieve a level of attachment that will not significantly impact attrition at the individual level.

This measure and knowledge of relative attachment creates an opportunity to target, address and control the risk associated with a new employee.

Staff AttritionFigure 2

Though this measure has a significant advantage to control risk associated with individual new employees, there is also a significant advantage gained through measuring the trends within the business that lead to consistently low attachment on key drivers.

With trended reporting, organisations are able to identify broader issues that may be driving lower levels of attachment. These will generally focus either on

1. recruitment and induction methodology or
2. skills of those responsible for these processes.

Which ever the cause, it allows organisations to make well informed decisions based on what is actually driving poor attachment rather than guessing or ignoring the cause and continuing to regret the lost opportunity of “the fish that got away”.

Sork HC have expert consultants who work in partnership with their clients to interpret the trended results, make recommendations and support the implementation of changes as a result of undertaking this measure.

Any organisation recruiting new talent that chooses not to measure attachment is putting their people investment at risk. Those who do, achieve a significant advantage in the race not only to find, but importantly retain their most valuable asset.

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