HR Analytics
Oct 31, 2021

Employee Attrition: How to Reduce it with HR Analytics

Most employee lifecycle events can be monitored and tracked – and capacity requirements are a foundational element of good HR practice. 

In the cycle, team leaders and managers who know their team members usually have an excellent sense of what resources they need and where their team members' heads are at. 

HR departments track retirement and promotions, checking to see which positions will need filling while finding ways to solve the problem of poor performers.

What's harder to pinpoint and control is employee attrition.

Besides retirement, termination, and layoffs, people leave jobs for complex reasons. It's rarely "one thing" – it's more like a buildup over time, a string of thoughts that rise into serious questions. 

It can often be highly emotional and not financially motivated. It can be deeply personal. Sometimes, it's in everyone's best interest for a person to leave a company, even if they're one of its founding members.

Wait – what is employee attrition?

Attrition is a catch-all term for a person leaving a company. This can be a voluntary decision made by the employee or involuntary – like a role termination, layoff, or dismissal.

Technically, attrition is when the person leaving a company would not typically be replaced, like a retiree in a legacy role.

But, like many words, its use has evolved and changed. 

It's now commonly used when the person leaving has been there for a significant amount of time and is pivotal to operations somehow. 

It's slightly different from employee turnover, which is usually a predictable, cyclical thing – and though it's not always bad, it's generally not good.

So, when we talk about attrition in this sense, we're talking about key players and top performers leaving. Much like a related word to attrition - atrophy, attrition can cause companies to shrink. 

It can be seen as a normal and natural part of organizational progress in some capacity – but it becomes problematic at key growth phases or pivots. It can become culturally catastrophic when confidence, morale, or engagement are low.

Counterintuitively, employee attrition can be both a symptom and a root of these issues. So, what causes it? And how can insight from HR analytics help?

Why do top performers leave companies?

Could it be money?

The key people in an organization almost always get paid following their responsibilities and the impact they make. Unless it is due to neglect, salary is unlikely to be a factor. Same with culture, they're likely to be integral to the company ethos, embodying its values and mission.

So, top performers understand that they're a vital piece – but what's less clear to them is the path ahead. Are they destined to burn out doing the same thing forever? Or is there a clear goal for them, an achievement they're working to unlock?

What if they can't get what they want in their current role?

Sometimes, top performers need a challenge. At other times, they need a break. Like an athlete at the top of their game, a high performer at work needs coaching and guidance to gain a competitive edge and a chance to make it big. They want to develop and grow their careers, not just for financial reward but also for their satisfaction.

However, there could be some hurdles in their way.

Look to leadership

People don't always click because values and goals that don't align can be hard to reconcile. Therefore, pairing a high performer with the best performing management won't necessarily always work. 

Also, although top performers are good at adapting, a change in leadership or management style can derail them, shift or create unclear goals, and elicit a sense that their focus and purpose is lost.

However, it doesn't happen overnight. Your best team players will always try to make it work – but if they're not being listened to when they air concerns or don't feel safe enough to share their concerns, they'll likely start looking for new opportunities.

So – what do high performing employees want?

Three main things:

  • Autonomy
  • Expertise
  • A sense of purpose

But there's one key theme in all of these requirements: trust.

They want to know that they can achieve a goal in whatever way they see fit and be trusted that it is the right call. With trust comes autonomy. With autonomy comes the honing of their skills – and expertise. The changes they enact with that expertise gives them a sense of purpose, that their role matters beyond filling a seat in an office or making up numbers to impress shareholders.

Top performers want to be trusted to do their best work. So, how could data and analytics possibly measure that?

It's simpler than you think.

How to use data and HR analytics to reduce attrition

The answer could be to simply listen

The Work Institute's 2020 employee retention report found that while more US workers than ever are leaving their jobs for better opportunities, an astonishing 75% of them could have been retained by simply listening to their needs.

With employee engagement surveys, companies can give their people a voice – and when they feel listened to, it can lead to positive outcomes in all areas of a business. This method may sound like basic data capture, but when done right, it's so powerful.

When it comes to employee attrition, you can analyze the feedback received in pulse surveys, check-ins, and one-to-ones for the telltale signs of a disengaged employee; one who's feeling undervalued and lacking direction. New goals can be set to resolve the issues driving them away from the company-specific goals that align with their values and where they want their work to take them next.

Engagement analysis and continuous listening are the keys to retaining essential human capital. But getting it fast enough has historically been challenging. Analyzing employee data takes time, and busy HR departments can't always respond before it's too late. Thankfully, that's changing with machine learning and AI-powered HR analytics tools.

We've built the fastest HR analytics platform in the world – to help leadership and HR professionals make decisions in the moments that matter.

Not when it's too late.

Understand your employee attrition, fast – with eqtble

Keep your brightest talents and highest performers. eqtble is the fastest, most powerful way to reduce employee attrition. 

Want to know more? Request early access here

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