Breaking a Cycle of Attrition

This automobile company plugged attrition early at the onboarding stage with Mettl.

Industry/Use Case


    Aged nearly four decades, this company is one of India’s largest automobile manufacturers, turning about 1,500,000 cars on an annual basis. They are an organization motivated by their desire to create revolutionary cars with high deliverability on performance, efficiency, environment friendliness and low cost of ownership.


    One of the earliest uses of sleeper agents is in the 1977 Charles Bronson film – Telefon. Bronson here plays an unwitting KGB agent, whose trigger phrase is a line borrowed from Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

    Unaware of his role as a KGB spy, Bronson, once activated, was tasked with the mission to sabotage crucial parts of the civil and military infrastructure in the event of a conflict.

    To the automobile industry, sleeper agents run amok and amidst Graduate Engineering Trainees (GETs). Attrition at a moment’s notice, GET or employee churn; these are problems severe in the sector.

    For the automobile company in question, despite having a strong technical competency framework in place and a one of its kind training program, defection to competitors remained a statistical high. Reasons?

    1. Lack of a Behavioural Framework
    2. Agents Triggered via Incentives

    It appeared as if competitors simply waited out the company’s training program, activating GET turnover upon completion. This, with irresistible incentives.

    Stuck in an inescapable cycle of attrition, the Mettl investigators were brought in to weed out the sleeper agents and ensure a more streamlined hiring process. We called it, “Operation Ghost Stories”.


    In early 2010, the United States Department of Justice uncovered a group of ten Russian sleeper agents under non-official cover – a mission that was later named “The Illegals Program”. An investigation launched by the FBI culminated in the arrest of those same agents, and a prisoner swap between Russia and the United States by the end of July.

    The FBI called this operation, “Ghost Stories” and aptly so. For Mettl, the task was of similar nature – to ensure employees never emerged with an intention of attrition, and become ghosts post-training. Our weapon was an aesthetically simple one – The Mettl Personality Profiler.

    This trump card of a weapon ensured that the new batch of Graduate Engineering Trainees came into view as optimal fits to the automobile company’s unique cultural ethos.

    How did we pull off Operation Ghost Stories?

    1. Competency Map
    Backed by data via an in-house analysis, the Mettl team realigned the automobile company’s competency framework, identifying those required to scale the succession ladder. This also implied the elimination of qualities that limited leadership capacities.

    2. Assessing High Potentials
    To better understand the potential of an incoming GET, the Mettl team categorized the workforce into several demographic clusters, using the Mettl Personality Profiler to suggest a benchmark that could predict high potential performers.

    3. Analysing Employee Stability Index
    This was indeed the big cookie in our operation. With a draft of a multi-stage analysis based on employee insights and personality types, the Mettl team could almost accurately forecast employee stability and churn. This helped identify key areas that required remedial actions to maintain a healthy stability index. We do love highlighting our trade secrets in broad daylight. However, as with all solutions, the impact is what matters the most.


    Most of the wars waged by the Mettl team leave little to worry about. The automobile company in question now possessed clear visibility on their plan for future hires, including those of the GETs. It also heightened employee engagement among others. Effectively, listed below are the company’s biggest takeaways:

    1. The Succession Structure Incentive Redefined
    The Mettl assessments helped the automobile company identify and develop their employees to leadership potential for key business and strategic roles. This settled a fine foundation for their succession planning roadmap.

    2. Low Attrition
    With a know-how on candidates who could and could not perform, the automobile company streamlined their hiring process to effectively plug attrition at the on-boarding stage itself.

    3. Effective L&D Programme
    Having mapped core competencies, the automobile company could now create an effective training and development programme, improving workforce efficiency for fresh employees in the process.

    And just like that, the ghostly sleeper agents had vanished.




    More Like this