Flatter Organisation Structure Vis-a-Vis Employee Growth and Attrition Control

1st initiative on Monday, 13-March-2018

Situation: Company XYZ has decided to move from a vertical structure to a flatter structure. They were known as a very orthodox company. Now, basis situational demand (both internal as well as external) and the fierce competition, they have taken up this strategy. But, being known as employee centric organisation, it realised that the vertical growth for employees are getting reduced if they move to flatter structure. In context of this, what attempt the company XYZ should take to take care of employees’ professional growth and to keep check on attrition rate, even when they are into the flatter organisation structure?

Proposed solutions and perspectives:

  1. Change in Culture and Outlook for the Organisation – Tone from the Top: The company needs to change its outlook and culture quickly if it wants to compete with the young, new and highly competitive breed of companies that are moving much faster. They need to make an optimum balance between being performance centric and being employee centric. The leaders need to be very approachable to all their employees.
  1. Extensive Communication Across the Organisation: Change must be shared with all the key stakeholders mentioning the all possible consequences.
    • Managing the Transition Phase through Extensive Explanation of Rationale and Benefit across all levels: The organisational leadership should explain to their employees about the rationale behind the change and educate them about the benefits in the flatter structure. An extensive communication running throughout the organisation is of paramount importance.
    • Incorporating Clarity and Openness everywhere:
      • Job descriptions and specifications for both existing and new role are to be put in a place accessible to all. – This will eliminate the doubt on fairness criteria.
      • Organisation should institutionalize the process of job postings across the organisation, whenever there is any opening. The management should encourage the internal movement / job rotation.
  1. Redeployment Possibility: Leadership should look at the redeployment possibility, if any of the employees are losing jobs due to this movement.
  1. Competency Analysis for Employees with respect to present and future perspectives:
  • To conduct a comprehensive competency analysis for the new as well as existing role.
  • Gap identification between the new and existing role.
  • To conduct a workload analysis to gauze if the existing resources can do justice to the workload demand
  • To count the technological options to optimise the inputs needed.
  • To allocate resources based on demand – team wise and location wise
  • To set expectations of all employees
  • To celebrate small successes
  • To review periodically and to take swift corrective actions as and when required.
  • To focus on succession planning for identified roles.
  • Downsizing – if at all required – should be done keeping competencies in mind, not the cost factor.
  1. Initiatives to define ‘Professional / Career Growth’ of employees and to Scale up the employees:
    • Whenever an organisation goes flatter, organisation chart does not move in terms of employee growth. Yet, employees should feel the progression. Without the sense of career progression, employees are not going to stay for longer period. Therefore, employees are to be explained that the career progression does not necessarily mean the climbing up of corporate ladder. It counts a series of diversified and enriching work experience. Concept of lateral movement need to be implemented and explained to the employees. Job rotation play a very important role here.
    • Defining professional growth and drawing career landscape encompassing all employees are pretty important. This clarity is so critical. Because basis this, mitigation procedures are likely to be adopted.
    • The divergence between ‘employee perception of professional growth’ and ‘the reality’ needs to be quantified.
    • Management must answer the ‘WIIFM’ (What’s in it for me?) to all their employees explicitly.
    • Defining professional growth either in intellectual terms or through financial benefits or with an optimum combination of both is of utmost importance.
    • Identifying critical talents and ensuring their engagement through meaningful learning and contribution opportunities.
    • Other employees (who are not identified as critical talents) are to be adequately educated about organisational expectations from them. And, organisation should also show the career-n-growth landscape that they have planned for their employees at various levels. A career anchor inventory maintenance would be of great help to segregate different priorities of different employees and aligning with different options. It may be a time-consuming tedious effort, but surely would yield a long-term benefit compared to proposing generalised pathways. It is a platform where Business Leads, HR Business Partners and L&D to collaborate. This is a sensitive topic and therefore needs to be handled with care.
    • Separate career plans for Gen X, Gen Y and Gen z might complicate the scenario and make LnD professionals’ task more tedious. However, it also needs to be in mind that the career aspiration and success definition are not the same for Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z. Therefore, one size will not fit to all, rather it will increase frustration at different level. The organisation can take a decision basis the proportion of their employees in Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z category. Also, as mentioned before, talent criticality needs to be factored in.
    • Scaling up the employees as and when they are needed to take up larger responsibilities than the present one.
    • Emphasis on self-driven development for employees through online trainings courses (such as MOOCs) and synergogy will enhance the employability of employees both internally and externally.
  1. Market Benchmarking of Compensation and Benefit for employees: Review of compensation philosophy, policies and structures to ensure alignment with market and organisational long-term objectives. Optimum combination of both financial and non-financial aspects of reward management would be the trump card.

P.S. Although an organisation must keep check attrition possibilities,but, they should also venture the possibility for the infusion of fresh blood as and when required.

Moderator and consolidator: Jayati Mukherjee – An LnD Enthusiast and Content Writer

Acknowledgement: Perspectives from various eminent LnD as well as Leadership professionals across the nation, including the founder of L&D Global forum, Mr. Surya Prakash Mohapatra