What are the employee types most difficult to retain?

Attrition is on the rise across industries, especially in the IT space. Here, HR leaders point out the kind of employees who tend to quit the organisation and why


The attrition rates are at an all-time high presently, pushing many experts to term this phenomenon as ‘The Great Attrition.’

A report by Gartner last year states that there is an average increase in attrition of 10 per cent in the IT sector. Well, if we go through the quarter by quarter attrition records of some of the biggest IT firms in India, signs of ‘The Great Attrition’ are clearly visible.

As per last year’s result, the attrition rate at TCS rose from 11.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 to 15.3 per cent in the last quarter of the year ending 2021-22.

“Employees high on motivation but low on satisfaction are the ones difficult to retain”

Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy

Similarly, Infosys saw an increase in attrition from 13.9 per cent to 25.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2021 to year-ending quarter of 2021-22.

The story for Wipro is no different. In the first quarter of 2021, Wipro’s attrition rate stood at 15.5 per cent and now in the latest year-end quarter 2021-22 it stands at 22.7 per cent.

Apart from these IT firms, all others have also seen an upward trend in the attrition rate.

Moving away from the IT firms, some companies in other sectors such as automobile, FMCG and banking have also witnessed some increase in the attrition rate, which is in the range of three to four per cent as compared to last quarter, some HR experts tell HRKatha.

The impact of ‘The Great Attrition’ can be felt across industries. That means, it is getting tougher by the day to retain talent. The reasons for the same vary from company to company.

What kind of employees are most difficult to retain in an organisation?

Entry-level employees – From the perspective of the tenure of the employees, it is observed that the freshers who have just started their careers tend to switch jobs quite frequently in the initial years of their career.

At the entry level, they are presented with several opportunities which pushes them to switch jobs. Secondly, these employees are unable to bond with the employers easily. “They find it difficult to adjust with the culture of the company,” says Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharma.

“It is not about the generation one belongs to. In the initial part of my own career I served short stints with many companies before I found stability in an organisation,” points out Singh citing his own example.

“Freshers find it difficult to adjust with the culture of the company”

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharma

Talent with potential – There are some employees who tend to exhibit signs of becoming future leaders in an organisation. They possess the potential to not just perform well, but lead the organisation one day. Such talent is very much in demand, according to HR leaders. That is why, they are more prone to getting poached by others.

Highly-motivated but dissatisfied employees – Amongst the high performers in the organisation, some are motivated and satisfied. However, there are also some who are motivated but not satisfied. These are the “critics” in the organisation, states Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy.

Such critics can be identified through various pulse surveys. Pandey is of the opinion that such employees are good for the organisation as “they tell us where we can improve, but it becomes equally important to address their problems and retain them”.

Very ambitious employees – Employees who are highly ambitious and want to grow very fast in life, are the ones who are easily attracted by lucrative offers from others. Such people more often fall in the category of high performers.

“Someone who feels stagnated and sees no scope for growth in a particular organisation is very much prone to leaving,” points out Sunil Singh, CHRO, Stellar Value Chain.

Specialists – Employees who are specialists or in critical roles are very difficult to retain. Their skills are so much in demand that everyone wants to hire them. For Singh from Solara Active Pharma, “people in the R&D department with specialised skills are highly critical for a pharma company”.

“Someone who feels stagnated and sees no scope for growth in a particular organisation is very much prone to leaving the company”

Sunil Singh, CHRO, Stellar Value Chain

Unidentified high performers – Singh from Stellar Value Chain reveals that often organisations fail to understand the value certain high performers are adding to the organisation. By failing to recognise the high performers, organisations end up creating a hostile environment for them. Such unidentified high potentials tend to leave the organisation. “This happens in most of the organisations in India,” says Singh.

For any organisation, identifying the problem areas and the value being added by employees to the organisation is very important. “We need to work with the employees and seek solutions from them,” concludes Pandey.


  1. Very true. Retaining talent in non IT (PMC services) is also big challenge specially in Infrastructure PMC services in post Pandemic. During the pandemic time organizations were tried to reduce some benefits to survive in tough time but now market is open, opportunities are more. Employees moving for short benefits at junior and middle level.

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