HR Analytics Help Identify Employees at Risk of Leaving

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By Caryn Freeman

Aug. 5 — Human resources analytics may be able to help companies forecast attrition and develop a strategy to retain employees.

Retention risk analysis—considering factors such as time in current job function, number of job functions held and time between promotions—looks to yield insights aimed at predicting turnover and finding internal positions that might induce an employee to stay with the organization.

Josh Bersin, principal at Bersin by Deloitte in Oakland, Calif., told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 5 that if implemented and used consistently, this technique can help HR steer people to positions where they have the greatest probability of success.

“Now that we have all of this data, and a lot more data scientists looking at the data, they are finding patterns,” Bersin said. For example, if a person is in the same job and doesn't get promoted for two years, either he or she is a poor performer or it's something about the work environment, the management team or the business operation that is preventing the employee from moving up, and the employee is probably getting frustrated, he said. “That's the type of thing that this is identifying,” Bersin said.

Now there are many algorithms uncovering some of these patterns, he noted. “If [companies] use this HR software in a consistent way and look at the data, they are going to see all sorts of things,” Bersin said. “Good managers do this naturally, but they only see a small piece, they only see a small team.”

To retain employees, companies should gather more information on what career paths are best for their workers, he said. “I think more companies really need to [know] that,” Bersin said.

Look for Broader Attrition Trends

Scott Mondore, managing partner at Atlanta-based Strategic Management Decisions, a talent management and analytics company, explained that HR analytics involves looking at “high-level trends and bringing that down to the individual employee.”

“If this raises some red flags and gets managers to talk to employees about the next phase in their career, then it's probably an effective approach,” Mondore, who co-authored the book “Investing in What Matters: Linking Employees to Business Outcomes,” told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 3.

Mondore said what most concerns him about bundling HR data in this way is the “downstream effect” of predicting individuals who may leave an organization versus “identifying issues that drive a wide swath of employees to leave.”

“This [method] is using technology to drive the conversation that probably should have been had in the first place,” he said. “What companies ought to do is think about not only what is going to drive somebody to leave, but use analytics to find out what drives them to actually perform in the organization while they are employed with you,” he advised.

Mondore said engagement scores and performance ratings are still valuable metrics that can indicate an employee's level of desire to move to a different position or to a different organization.

“It's kind of the engagement fallacy, that if you make people happier they are going to work harder. That's not necessarily true. It's hard to understand what's going to make someone stay and make them happy,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at