Never Grow Up
People Analytics & the Assessment of Attrition | Consultancy Asia
The global workforce has entered a period of change not just in terms of HR tools and techniques but also in terms of our perspective on people analytics. With the world of work evolving at a dizzying rate, it’s time for organizations to view people analytics not merely as a means to gain employee insights, but rather as a tool that can help employers understand their own areas of improvement.
It’s a perspective shift that companies across the world need to gradually adopt, simply because the tables have turned. Employers today need to give employees a legitimate reason to stay put. From inclusive policies and practices to growth opportunities and benchmark-setting compensation packages, today’s working professional is aware, savvy and constantly looking for better spaces to learn, grow and contribute.
Essentially, this means that it’s no more the employee convincing the employer about the value they add as an individual. The equation has changed, and understandably so. With more employment options opening up, the gig economy becoming a mainstay, and remote working enabling people to seek out new jobs across geographies, why should competent talent remain in a space that is not rewarding and fulfilling?
Against this backdrop, attrition analysis becomes more important than ever before. A measure of how many people are exiting your company within a stipulated amount of time, the term attrition rate can, in the worst circumstance, be an HR professional’s nightmare. And that’s exactly why an in-depth analysis of the reasons behind employee churn, is ever-important for organizations to grow into ecosystems that not only attract good talent but also retain it.
Admitting: If it’s not you, maybe it’s us.
The fact is, attrition rates can’t be extrapolated to all circumstances or generalized in order to make a sweeping observation – Especially when it comes to unfortunate scenarios like mass lay-offs or individual terminations. However, when it comes to employees who choose to leave and seek out better opportunities, companies can benefit from introspecting instead of reacting.
What does this mean? If someone from your company has decided to part ways and move to another job, it’s up to you as an employer to understand why. This is of course a more nuanced question than it appears to be. Some employees might choose a slightly different career path, some might opt for much larger entities that can provide them with a larger pay-check not because they are more generous but simply because they have the resources to do so. These are the kinds of circumstances which are largely out of your control. You can offer a small salary increment, negotiate a bit, tinker around with the job role, but ultimately if your company’s resources don’t suffice, or your employee’s interests lie elsewhere, your paths are bound to diverge.
The preliminary bit of introspection complete, it’s time to dig a little deeper and see if you need to acknowledge the fact that, quite simply, in some way or the other, you are not meeting industry benchmarks.
Asking: So, what now?
Is your data telling you that there are other reasons for people leaving the company? Say, in a given year, your attrition rate is high and a majority of your workforce has left for competitor companies or other organizations at a similar scale to yours. The reasons could be wide-ranging, from a less-than-desirable work culture to a glass ceiling, toxic managers, no learning opportunities or even the most fundamental – low pay as per industry standards. While step one might be to quickly recruit replacements when someone leaves just to ensure uninterrupted work, the real first step should be to acknowledge the organizational issues that literally drive people away.
The next step should be to begin addressing these problems, no matter how deeply ingrained they are. Whether you introduce manager sensitization sessions so that mid-level managers are better equipped to start the cascade of change in their own teams, or decide to onboard a consultant that sets in motion company-wide change management practices – The transformation must start somewhere. For, you will always find quick replacements, but in the long run what you need is people who last. And with millennials and Gen Z occupying a large percentage of the global workforce, even those who stay, stay for an average of 3-5 years. This further amplifies the need for better retention measures.
Wondering: Could this have worked out differently?
Throughout the pandemic, a top priority for businesses has been to steer their clientele and consumers through choppy waters, whether in the form of seamless and constantly improved services or in the form of customer-led product development and uninterrupted supply.
What many forget is that first it’s important to ensure that you empower your employees to navigate the turbulence, making the need for qualitative attrition insights even more important.
This means prioritising the people who still work with you. What can one do to augment the retrospective practice of attrition analysis? The answer is feedback – Asking your people for regular, extensive feedback via a range of mediums. From detailed scenario-based employee surveys to more frequent but quicker yes/no questions; from one-on-one discussions with direct reports to a digital show-of-hands through a quick mentimeter quiz – there’s no end to the methods with which HR teams and people leaders can get organizational questions addressed.
From the simplest queries about what learning programmes individual employees need, to the deeper concerns on bullying, harassment and discrimination, it’s important to get first-hand insights from your people at every juncture.
The ultimate takeaway?
Don’t forget the people who make your organization what it is. Not even the ones who left, because there lies a lesson in every mistake you’ve made as an employer, and the best use of people analytics is to learn from it.
This article was first published in Consultancy Asia, 2021