Strategic HR: Measuring Quality of Attrition #SHRMTalent

It’s day two of the 2014 SHRM Talent Management conference, and I attended a great session on Quality of Attrition: Management's Favorite Human Capital Metric. The bottom line is that we know that every person that leaves the business is not the same. Why they left, how valuable they were, and what the organization could have done to change the results are all elements of attrition quality that can (and should, arguably) be measured.

So who’s doing it?

According to data from i4cp, high-performing companies are more likely than low-performing companies to measure various factors relating to employee attrition. In fact, 85% of high performing companies measure factors such as voluntary/involuntary attrition, whereas low performers only measure that data approximately 70% of the time.

Other common attrition measurements (ranked from most to least used)

  • First year
  • High potential
  • Demographics
  • Pivotal roles
  • Quality of attrition

How to begin using analytics

This one topic is far bigger than this article, but some insights from the presentation are worth sharing.

The maturity curve of workforce analytics includes the following steps:

  1. Foundational work–establish the foundation and do the “grunt” work to create a base of data to work from
  2. Build credibility–start sharing the data where appropriate to establish a rapport with management
  3. Provide insight–the next step is to go beyond simply reporting and start providing ideas and suggestions based on data
  4. Influence strategy–the last step is to start inserting the data into strategic discussions in order to influence the overall direction

One key thought I will insert here: providing insights doesn’t build credibility in itself–it’s the back and forth interaction with managers when you answer questions that really shows your ability and allows them to trust both you and the data you are providing.

Aim for this target

When you create managers that want as much data as you can share, you’ve arrived. Demand should outpace capacity.

For most of us that’s a bit scary. In smaller organizations I would say this is not worthwhile; however, in larger organizations if you’re able to provide the right insights and get buy-in for the data you’re sharing, then this is how you continue to add value to the business and grow the influence of the analytics you’re developing.

How to (virtually) guarantee success

The first step when you begin is easy. Find out what management wants and give it to them.

There will come a point where you can begin sharing things beyond what they request, but if you want quick results and momentum, start by giving them exactly what they are looking for. Here’s how to do that:

  • Identify employee populations that management values the most (Specific job functions? Diversity? Career level? Other?)
  • Start categorizing employees by management preference so you can get exactly the data you need
  • Establish baselines internally
  • Collect data
  • Review/analyze data
  • Collaborate with other internal stakeholders (For instance, can you find financial trends that align with the data you’ve gathered? Sales numbers? Other?
  • Develop a story to give the numbers some weight and sticking power
  • Share with the appropriate people
  • Revise (if necessary) and repeat

Analytics is a new field and we’re still learning how to apply the tools and techniques to making HR better, but these are some great ideas to get you started.