Improving Employee Retention using People Analytics

By February 1, 2018 No Comments

A few years ago, the CHRO of a prominent business approached me to discuss one of the organizations most pressing questions. “Can you help us diagnose why have we seen so many people leaving our company over the last couple of years?”

The team had just implemented a high impact Data Analytics program. Dashboards highlighting the issue were sent to the operating units leadership team every week. Yet the HR team was at wit’s end trying to understand what was going wrong and more importantly, how were they able to fix it.

The issue was not unique to this organization. For the last couple of years, HR teams globally have been trying to use hard data to address a variety of topics such as how to manage attrition, how they improve their performance and increase diversity and innovation. However, unlike their peers in Finance, Marketing and Operations, the HR team was way behind using analytics to design and track these programs.

Recent research has shown that the global workforce analytics market is currently growing at 16% compound annual growth rate, and is expected to reach $2.72bn by 2025, according to Grand View Research. The HR technology industry, by contrast, over the past few years is growing at 8% annually and expected to be $15bn in size in 2018 (IDC, Forrester; from Shea & Company 2015). Significant investments in technology are being made to use analytics to improve workforce decisions.

But making investments in analytics technology is only half of the equation. What organizations need to recognize is that HR problems need to be looked at holistically. A good consultant will understand the organization, its culture and DNA, navigating privacy, ethical and legal issues, prioritizing competing business needs, in addition to identifying the root cause of the immediate problem.

My assignment with them was to train the team to understand how to apply a proven framework to move from tactical HR reporting into descriptive & predictive analytics. The framework that we developed collaboratively helped the team build descriptive analytics models that helped them look at profiles of high-risk workers; the analytics included a range of information such as demographic profile, professional and educational background, performance ratings, levels of compensation, and others. By applying analytical models, we were able to identify a pattern: high-valued employees in virtual teams, with more tactical deliverables and extended time between promotions, were more likely to leave.

Once these high-risk employees had been identified, more informed efforts were made to assist them in staying. Chiefly, these involved more significant opportunities for greater collaboration within the team and the managers, more focus on learning and development opportunities and more involvement from the leadership team. Specifically, due to these efforts to this group, the organization first saw an improvement in their performance and engagement, and over time are beginning to see their retention increase.

The industry expects to see a higher adoption of people analytics frameworks that have the potential of revolutionizing the way organizations do business. With training and guidance, HR teams are able to deploy predictive talent models that could more effectively recruit, develop and retain the right people.

This issue of our Newsletter is devoted to identifying HR pitfalls that can derail the efforts.

In this issue:

Three HR pitfalls to avoid this year
As the entire HR industry goes gaga over machine learning and predictive analytics, there is a lot of work to be done before getting there. Large companies that can afford data analysts, statisticians, and other specialists are doing some good work on this but deploying these advanced techniques is complicated, takes time, and is expensive. Assess what your company needs are, and model a plan around it. If you have payroll data, you are in a good place to get started with basic descriptive analytics. No point waiting to have the perfect data and no point waiting for the advanced analytics models. Just get moving! Click here for more on this.


Deeply honored to be featured in the 2018 Top HR Analytics Influencers list. The illustrious group has some of the most distinguished thought leaders, pioneers and world-class professionals from the business world. I look forward to continuing the people analytics conversations in our industry in the days ahead.

“It’s time for HR leaders to get over their fear of Big Data. Good data drives good business, and human capital is the biggest asset a company has.”
– Optimize Your Greatest Asset – Your People,
Pease, G. (2015) – John Wiley & Sons

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