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Data-driven techniques to keep your best employees

Get to the bottom of employee turnover and improve your retention rate by utilizing data-driven techniques. A data-driven approach to HR can uncover patterns among employees and attract more talented people to your business, enabling you to make informed decisions about your workforce and ensuring long-term growth and productivity.

Retaining your best employees is the best way to protect your business’s long-term growth. When employees feel happy and secure, they’re much more likely to work hard and achieve peak productivity, too. 

However, if you do have a turnover issue, you may find it difficult to plug the proverbial leak. This is entirely understandable, as employees leave your firm for a range of reasons. 

Get to the bottom of employee turnover and improve your retention rate by utilizing data-driven techniques. These will give you a deeper understanding of employee motivations and help you spot the cause of issues like burnout sooner. 

Gathering Data

As an HR professional, you should already be gathering qualitative and quantitative data about your firm. A data-driven approach to HR can uncover patterns among employees and attract more talented people to your business. This sentiment is echoed by HR guru Julia Pirozhkova, who explains that an analytical approach can improve your understanding of employees and help you “make informed decisions about your workforce.”

If you’re new to the idea of gathering data for retention purposes, consider tracking and monitoring retention metrics like: 

  • Employee Net Promoter Score (NPS): A strong NPS is an indicator that employees are satisfied with the business and would encourage others to work there, too. 
  • Overall Retention: Keep track of how many employees you lose in a year. A low retention rate of around 5% is actually healthy, as it makes room for new, highly talented employees. 
  • Absence Rate: How often do your employees take sick days? An unusually high absence rate may be an indicator of high stress and burnout. 
  • Retention of Top/Low Performers: Which employees are leaving? You can probably afford to lose underperforming staff, but alarm bells should sound if your best employees are leaving en masse. 

When gathering this data, try to tie hard metrics to intangible insights like demanding projects or low bonuses. This will help you understand why your employees report a low NPS or are regularly taking sick leave. 

You can also use exit interviews to better understand the data you collect. Ask strategic exit interview questions like: 

  • “Why are you leaving the company?” 
  • “How did this position align with your expectations?”
  • “Did the company help you accomplish your career goals?” 
  • “How do you think the company could improve?”

Crucially, these questions should be asked in a friendly, inviting atmosphere. Employees will only come forward with honest answers if they know that their responses are confidential. Let employees know that you’re simply gathering data to improve the firm and that their response will not impact their ability to receive references or reapply for positions in the future. 

Burnout Identification 

Burnout is a major trend among employees today. We’re still experiencing the fallout from the pandemic when many hard-working employees took on extra responsibilities to help firms stay afloat. 

As an HR professional, it’s crucial that you identify employees who are at risk of burnout and alleviate some of the strain they face. A proactive approach to burnout will reduce turnover and improve productivity. That’s because the long-term effects of burnout include: 

  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Weakened immune system
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Loss of motivation

Tracking these indicators can be tricky. However, with a little creative thinking, you can quantify metrics like motivation. For example, if you suspect that employees are struggling with stress, consider sending survey questions like “Compared to six months ago, has your motivation changed, improved, or stayed the same?”. Quantify these results after gathering data and pair them with weekly KPIs to figure out if employees are feeling overwhelmed at work. 

You can also use less obvious metrics to measure motivation and burnout. Keep track of instances of anti-social behaviour at work and tally up how many people attend social events. These data points don’t necessarily give a full picture alone but can be used to give you a better understanding of employee morale and stress levels. 

Personalised Support

Take action if you notice a pattern of burnout and poor performance amongst high-performing employees. This is particularly important if you identify that one of your best employees has suddenly reduced their workplace efficiency and no longer attends social gatherings or career development opportunities. 

Providing personalized support to these members of staff makes all your data collection efforts worthwhile. Timely interventions are key, and data empowers you to reach out when staff begin to fall by the wayside. For example, if you notice that a member of your marketing team has missed their KPIs three months in a row, it may be worth reaching out to figure out if they need additional support in their role. 

That said, you shouldn’t start to panic as soon as an employee has a downturn in productivity or takes some time off. Staff will resent HR efforts that overreact to minor changes in day-to-day output and may push back against schemes that get in the way of their core responsibilities. Sometimes, a simple message of support is all it takes to let employees know that the company is there to help if they need it. 

Support can also come in the form of technological advancement. Your data collection efforts may reveal that staff are burnt out because they’re bogged down in mundane tasks that haven’t changed. Network automation is one way to approach this problem. 

According to Verizon’s Mike Elgan, you could “plan for a flexible and responsive automated system that offloads drudgery and tedium from human staff and lets them focus on more important issues.” Better yet, involve employees in the planning. Automation makes way for them to use their high-level skills and advance.     

Employee Advocacy

Tracking data can help you advocate for cultural changes at a company, too. For example, if your surveys show that many employees leave in search of better career development opportunities, you can take these insights to decision-makers at the firm. This data-driven approach helps you advocate for employee’s needs, as directors will have the insights they need to make appropriate changes. 

Strategic use of data can help you increase funding for HR-oriented motivational projects. For example, using data, you may be able to show that your work environment is at odds with the company’s vision. This can free up funds for renovation and help you build a workplace that is safe, clean, and promotes productivity at work. 

Data-driven HR is key to achieving peak employee retention. Even simple analytics, like NPS, can improve your understanding of morale and make strategic changes to the way your company works. 

You can use the data you gather to make personalized interventions when your best employees lose motivation. This is crucial, as all employees want to work in an environment where they feel valued and supported. 

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