The hidden factor tanking your retention: work friction

One of the biggest drivers of attrition might not even be on your radar. According to Gartner, you need to be paying attention to 'work friction'.

What if I told you that one of the biggest drivers of attrition is something you haven't even heard of? According to Gartner, this is likely the case in your organization.

Back in 2020, Gartner Research coined the term 'Work Friction' to describe the wasted effort employees put into unnecessary or heavily manual steps in mandatory company processes. The hours your managers lose to requesting a new hire get the right systems access (and then chasing that request)? That's work friction. Bouncing your new hires between multiple systems to check off multiple onboarding checklists? Also work friction.

While they might not have heard the term, every HR team is already familiar with the concept. That's because the most laborious and manual parts of company process frequently land on HR's plate.

And just like with every other team experiencing work friction, HR's ability to deliver high impact, strategically significant work is hampered by this friction.

This might seem like an unavoidable reality of working in an organization of any size... but the data collected by Gartner in their 2022 Organization and Work Design Survey will make you think again.

What's the impact of work friction?

According to Gartner's data, experiencing just 5 work friction points can reduce an employee's intent to stay by more than half.

Gartner's data also shows that work friction is extremely common. 74% of employees surveyed reported experiencing at least 3 work friction points. That's enough to reduce intent to stay by 30%.

The situation is worst still for hybrid and remote employees, who are 40% more likely to experience high levels of work friction. And that extra friction leads to an even greater drop in their intent to stay.

Does work friction lead to HR burnout?

There's another damaging effect of the painful processes and laborious manual chores of work friction. It increases the chances of burnout.

HR leaders have been sounding alarm bells about burnout in their teams since the middle of the pandemic. The extra pressure HR professionals experienced under those exceptional circumstances certainly had a big impact. But these days the bigger, ongoing impact is the share of an organization's work friction that affects HR.

The Harvard Business Review identified a high workload plus a lack of rewarding work as a key cause of burnout. That sounds exactly like the experience of work friction.

How to reduce work friction

While there is no single quick fix for work friction, automation is a powerful tool to get your organization moving more quickly.

Start by reviewing your processes and identifying the points of most friction. You don't need a time consuming analysis or company-wide survey – just ask the people who most recently engaged with that process. They'll instantly be able to tell you every high-friction moment that sapped their motivation.

Once you've identified the problematic processes, start implementing automation. High automation HR platforms can smooth out a large share of the friction point that fall within your team's remit. The best of breed won't require months of implementation effort before you start to see results.

News and Updates

Subscribe to be notified when new articles or webinars are published and to receive news about Dado.

Book a call