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The title of this Blog series is taken from an article published in INSEAD Knowledge. The content is mine. [Link to article appears at the end of post]

‘Butterfly Effect’ is when an apparently stable, well-performing employee suddenly announces his/her departure from the organization. This phenomenon happens regularly in all organizations. It leads first to confusion as to what happened, and then to questions as to why it happened. The sudden departure of employees certainly impacts an organization’s plans and performance.

In the previous episode, we looked at the HR status in various organizations in Pakistan. We now proceed to see some reasons for sudden, unexpected departure of employees. Given below are some reasons. It is not an exhaustive list, but it is workable.

Absence of Clear Career Path

Two issues are seen in this area. One, career track is not available at all, or is not clear, or is not applied. Promotions appear to be random and discretionary. In almost all cases, promotions come as surprise. Two, the organization is flat. There is no hierarchy and there is not possibility of upgrade of position. Salary may keep increasing, but it is nominal increase to keep the overheads low.

Employees who are ambitious and aspire to grow over time with their hard work get disillusioned quickly. When we analyze pattern of turnover, the most common reason comes out to be the lack of growth opportunities. People take stress, work long hours, accept less salaries in the hope of getting higher status in future. But if that is not coming, they do not see any reason for staying.

Absence of Information Sharing

Many organizations prefer to keep a rather closed environment. Most things are kept secret unnecessarily. It is explicitly said that mutual relations and sharing is not appreciated. I have seen great restrictions on the entry of previous employees. These are signs of weakness in the system, the malaise that runs through the organization. It is natural that good things are not hidden, these are rather showcased while bad things are kept hidden from the outside world.

People working in this type of organizations are never fully engaged. They work because they do not have the courage to go elsewhere, so they keep sulking and sticking. Sometimes they find an excuse to do some damage which is their way of taking revenge.

Turnover in closed organizations may not be very high. It is because they hire their kind of people carefully.

Absence of Recognition

Appreciation is a universally sought-after commodity. And it is needed every day. Appreciation is the first step which then then translates into recognition and admiration.

Recognition and related feelings create a goodwill which keeps the employees bonded with the organization. Recognition may also compensate for other thing.

The recognized employees feel exceptionally satisfied.

The absence of recognition leads to depression and/or unwillingness to do more. It may be seen on social media that various companies regularly recognize their staff for what they do. In fact, they try to find ways to appreciate their staff publicly. If done rightly and sincerely, recognition enhances quality and quantity of work significantly.

Absence of Conducive Environment

Long time ago, a senior was debating with me about the importance of conducive work environment. His thesis was that it was unnecessary.  We met after a few years and he recalled that conversation and said he later realized how important it was.

When the staff feels welcome and warm, they tend to give their best. On the other hand, when the environment is hostile and cold, people shrink back into their shells. They refuse to cooperate and collaborate and are on the lookout for escape to a better place.

Absence of Development Opportunities

Personal/professional developments are the most wanted attributes. Gallup® developed a questionnaire to gauge ‘employee engagement’. It has 12 questions, 6 of which relate to development.

When people see that they have opportunities to learn and develop, they remain attached with the organization even when other factors may not so lucrative.

Development is an investment we do in ourselves. If the organization supports us in this process, we gratefully acknowledge and return the favor by staying and performing.

Better Opportunities

This is market. Poaching, target-killing, and such measures are considered fair. No one shall be able to stop it. The organizations need to protect their assets through various means.

Turnover due to better opportunities shall always be there but can be minimized by keeping own people engaged. Money, cars, perks, and benefits are not a sure solution.

The above are some factors leading to employee-turnover. There are other factors, but these are more important and prevalent.

In the last part, we shall see what can be done to reduce the incidence of Butterfly Effect.


Disclaimer. Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images which does not show anyone’s copyright claim. However, if any such claim is presented, we shall remove the image with suitable regrets.

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