Unwanted attrition, especially of high performers and high potentials, is a big issue. When you’re planning three to five years ahead and contemplating ambitious or complex strategies, you need to feel confident that you can retain the right talent.
Attrition is of course also expensive, both in the time and cost associated with recruitment as well as more indirect costs – such as the loss of experience to a competitor, lower productivity while new employees get up to speed, and possibly the loss of customers.
Tackle attrition get to know your data
Organisations are taking increasingly sophisticated approaches to tackle attrition. Data analytics are being put to work to help predict and model the causes of attrition – to help identify staff who may be falling out of love with their current role and trying to address the issues effectively – well before the exit interview.
Of course, there are privacy considerations when using data about employees to predict whether they are showing signs of wanting to leave – and you need to be comfortable with the data that’s being collected and analysed. But if you can develop an approach led by performance management, coaching and improved relationships with line managers rather than a formulaic response driven solely by an intrusive algorithm – this can help you make better predictions.
How can you tell if your employees want to leave?
Employees who are more likely to leave will display certain characteristics – there are the ever-present background signals that a line manager will likely be aware of, such as personal commitments, slow career progression or being a proven high performer likely to be targeted by a head hunter.
But advanced analytics can help you identify the active day-to-day signals – the changes in behaviour – that differentiate between employees who might think of leaving, and those actively disengaging. When done well, analytics can spot two-thirds of these employees, months before they hand in their notice.
There are best practice approaches to addressing the risk that someone may be about to leave, but they’re best managed by embedding the right ways of working. For example, giving the line manager the right information in real time, with a playbook of responses to given scenarios, and sufficiently empowering and training the manager so they tailor a response which meets the needs of the particular employee, based on the real reasons why they’re disengaging at that specific moment.
When these approaches are combined with an analytical understanding of the individuals likely to be the leaders of tomorrow – the future talent of your organisation – not only can the detrimental immediate impact of attrition be mitigated, but you can also gain the ability to retain and nurture that talent, and ultimately safeguard your organisation’s future.
Jonathan Green, director workforce analytics, KPMG
Jonathan’s focus area is around workforce analytics, and he has developed a number of solutions to identify and predict how the workforce can drive improved business outcomes.