If you want to spark up a real juicy conversation among HR types, ask the following question: “Is HR responsible for turnover?” Then stand back, admire your work, and enjoy the debate that follows.


“What was the question?”

This subject is a sticky wicket – Human Resources rightfully own the people processes of the company.  That’s what we do – we find ‘em, hire them, watch over them, protect them, pay them, and put them to bed [We also investigate them, suspend them, and terminate them, but that’s another post.]

But where are the lines of demarcation regarding “ownership” of the people themselves? You’ll find no shortage of data sharing the statistical significance of turnover related to “my supervisor.” What exactly does that mean?  Is the supervisor a problem? Was the hire a bad fit? Whose responsibility is it to identify, address, and correct these issues before they become problematic? Who owns the training and development function? Can HR be responsible for the input (hiring) but not the output (attrition?)

Recruiters and internal staffing take great pride in “landing” a new employee. It’s not uncommon to hear a recruiter claim the great employees they “hired” years after the fact, as in “Yep, he’s our CFO now, but it was me who hired him as an Analyst eight years ago (cocky sniff for emphasis).”  I would like to think that I identify something beyond the job requirements when hiring a new employee, but that could also cause a high-flyer to want quicker advancement than what the company is prepared to offer.

So, back to the original question – is Human Resources responsible for turnover? Certainly not, but maybe it should be. How would that impact the recruiting process? It would be a game-changer ~ and that might be a good thing.

How? Tune in next month for Part 2….

 John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™; Straight talk, no-nonsense approach to workplace issues. 

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