4 People analytics to get on the front foot of The Great Attrition

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that a large number (15 million+) of US workers have quit their jobs since April 2021, with a further 40% saying they are “likely to leave” their current job in the next 3-6 months.


Although this pattern, dubbed “The Great Resignation” and “The Great Attrition”, has been seen across the UK, Asia Pacific and some parts of Europe, not all turnover is unavoidable.

There are specific characteristics and conditions that make an employee more likely to leave their job, and by using HR tools and people analytics to identify such employees, observant employers have the opportunity to proactively do something about it.

Here are four people analytics to help you get on the front foot of attrition.

1. Employee happiness

After the last two years of uncertainty, separation from family, sickness and loss, people are (rightly so) reflecting on their jobs, careers, and lives. If they’re not happy in any one of these domains, the chances that their eyes might wander elsewhere are high.

The best way to find out if an employee is (un)happy in their role, is to ask. And not just once a year in their performance review (because a lot can change in a year, or even a month).

For employee happiness analytics to be valid, reliable and of practical value in predicting employees who are at risk of leaving, you need sufficient data. This can be captured by measuring satisfaction regularly (i.e. through continuous feedback or a regular pulse survey).

RELATED: Why continuous feedback is critical to your organization’s success

employee satisfaction

Once you have enough data, then your analytics will be able to give you a baseline happiness rating for each employee. For example, Fred’s “typical” level of happiness might be a “9”, whereas Cooper’s might be a “7”. This gives you a reference point with which to compare shifts. So, if Fred’s happiness drops to a “6”, then he is probably of greater risk of leaving than Cooper.

The second step is to find out what’s driving this dissatisfaction. This can actually be wrapped up in the first step, by providing the opportunity for employees to give additional comments or information in an open-ended free text question in the pulse survey. However, it should also be followed up with a face-to-face conversation.

Many things contribute to an employee’s (un)happiness at work and decision to leave. Sure, a pay rise might be the answer for some employees, but for others, it’s also about flexibility, organizational culture, team dynamics, training, and recognition.

The solution might be something as simple as providing an opportunity for growth through a stretch project or learning a new skill. But without tracking happiness analytics and being alerted to the fact that an employee’s satisfaction is dropping, you might not get the opportunity to find out.

2. Employee wellbeing

Employee health and wellbeing has received a lot of attention over the rollercoaster that’s been COVID-19, with workplaces really stepping up to support their people. Many companies including Bumble, Nike and LinkedIn have shut their offices for a (paid) mental health week or have given staff extra leave or free mental health days. Other organizations have made wellbeing check-ins a core part of their people processes, using the analytics to identify employees at risk of leaving.

Hootsuite employees around the globe will be logging off for a week without interruption in July! ✨

It’s time to take a break and everyone @hootsuite will be OOO from 5-9 July #HootsuiteLife pic.twitter.com/IpFnk6n5kw

— Becky Philbrooks (@becky0189) June 25, 2021

On an individual level, wellbeing analytics help managers spot early signs of burnout, disengagement or mental health problems. Left unattended, these things can easily escalate or seem unmanageable, potentially leading to preventable turnover. But by checking in on employee wellbeing, even through a regular pulse survey, it provides the opportunity to open up a conversation, provide emotional support and workshop solutions.

On a macro level, wellbeing analytics can help to identify if there are any problem areas in the organization, i.e. teams or departments, where wellbeing is lower. The analytics then provide managers with the tools to investigate the root cause.

Lastly, one of the biggest clues to disengagement or overwhelm is non-completion of HR tasks like wellbeing check-ins, so if you have a previously conscientious employee whose completion rates have dropped, alarm bells should be ringing.

Tip: intelliHR’s weekly highlights email alerts HR admins to the number of employees who might not be coping based on departures from their normal scores.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Mental health toolkit: Understand and improve wellbeing at work

3. Survival analytics

The third metric that can help you to predict employees at greater risk of leaving is survival analysis. Survival analytics map the average tenure for various classifications of employees, or how long they “survive” at the organization. Depending on how you analyze the data, this could be mapped for various roles, seniorities, pay grades, teams, or demographics.

For example, the average survival rate for a customer service agent located in Los Angeles might only be one year. In contrast, the average survival for an operations manager in Minneapolis might be four years. Thus, if you can see you have eight customer service agents approaching their one-year mark, but your two ops managers are at one and two years, then dedicating more resources to nurturing the customer service agents makes economical sense.

Armed with the right information, survival analytics allows you to take a more strategic approach to retention, and focus your efforts where they count most.

Learn more about survival analysis in this post.

4. Employee sentiment

The last metric that can help you understand and address attrition is employee sentiment, which refers to the overall “mood” of your employees.

There are various ways that sentiment can be measured depending on which tool or technique you use (e.g. many HR teams will commonly measure this through an annual engagement survey). intelliHR provides a dynamic measure of sentiment by analyzing the text of everything your employees are saying across their wellbeing check-ins, eNPS, happiness surveys, performance reviews and more.

Through employee sentiment metrics, you can instantly see if sentiment is negative, positive or neutral at any time, and be sensitive to shifts or changes. If you notice that sentiment is dropping then you know that there’s a problem that could potentially lead to attrition and can begin to investigate why.

Is sentiment low only in particular teams? Was there a business event that preceded the drop? If there are teams that have more positive sentiment, is there something that they are doing that could be replicated in other teams?

If you want to take it a step further, you can overlay attrition data to determine if there’s any correlation between sentiment and attrition (i.e. when sentiment decreases, does attrition increase?) and plot the average time it takes after a sentiment drops for an employee to resign. Pretty neat stuff, huh?

All of these reports come standard in intelliHR, so you don’t have to do any data manipulation or analysis. If you’re keen to learn more, you can get a personalized demo here.

Skills mapping

As a final note, there are always going to be some employees who you can’t prevent from leaving (and unfortunately these will often be your high performers). But what you can do is have a plan in place to deal with it when it happens.

When you think of recruitment costs, the costs of the hiring manager’s time, training and the cost of the trainer’s time- as well as lost productivity both of the leaver in their wind down period and the new starter before they get up to speed- replacing an employee costs a lot (in fact some statistics say up to half of their salary). That’s why the best thing you can do is to nurture and prepare the talent you already have to take on those roles.

Succession planning involves identifying the skills you already have in your organization (you can do this through intelliHR’s skills mapping tool), how and where you have any gaps or potential future gaps in skills and upskilling employees in these areas.

This way, you’ll be best positioned to deal with any unplanned, regrettable turnover that comes out of The Great Attrition in the most cost-effective way that simultaneously rewards and benefits your internal staff, leading to more loyalty and commitment.