5 Ways to use HR analytics to identify employees at risk of leaving

With the ongoing political, economic and environmental uncertainty and rapid and continuing changes to the notion of “work” – the workplace, workday, work week – it’s no surprise that many employees are feeling disconnected, disillusioned and disengaged.

Identifying employees who might be at risk of disengaging and leaving needs to be a top priority for HR and business leaders alike.

In this post, we’re going to share 5 ways you can use people analytics to understand, measure and reduce employee disengagement across the board.

  1. eNPS

  2. Performance and role satisfaction

  3. Employee wellbeing

  4. Exit interviews and offboarding

  5. Task completion

1. eNPS

Do you know how your employees really feel about your organisation?

Maybe you conduct a yearly engagement survey that provides insights across a slather of metrics, but with employee engagement varying drastically throughout the year based on things like workload, industry forces or team dynamics, only asking these questions annually is like only checking your weather app once a year to see if it’s going to rain.

Key Takeaway

Employer Net Promoter Score, or eNPS is a quick and simple way to get a gauge on employee (dis)engagement at regular intervals throughout the year.

By asking one simple question “How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or family?”, an eNPS measures loyalty and divides responses into three groups, depending on their score:

  1. Detractors,

  2. Passives /neutrals

  3. Promoters

(For a full breakdown of what each of these mean, check out this eNPS-explained guide).

We also recommend asking an additional question, “if there is one thing you could do to improve company xyz, what would it be?” This will either give you context to the score, or give you valuable insight into areas of improvement (or both).

Employees love eNPS because it’s quick (typically only takes a couple of minutes, compared to lengthy employee engagement surveys which can take upwards of an hour), it gives them the chance to share their ideas or feedback regularly (rather than saving it all up and then if you’re anything like me, forgetting it when it comes time), and demonstrates to them that the organization genuinely cares.

There is a major caveat to an eNPS though, in that you need to do something with the feedback. It’s not much use if you get told that the air conditioning is too cold, and then nothing gets done about it, leaving your employees out in the cold (sorry, couldn’t help the pun).

Using the people analytics to dig deeper

Once you’ve got your eNPS data, it’s a pretty good guess that your detractors are your disengaged employees, and your neutrals might be at risk of disengagement.

You can then filter by either of these groups or by your promoters and overlay other data points to find out if there are any patterns or common underlying characteristics driving sentiment. For example:

  • Location – are all in a particular department, location?

  • Goal completion rates – are all your promoters also high performers who achieve their goals on time?

  • Salary – how do salary, bonuses and pay rises correlate with eNPS?

  • Retention – are detractors more likely to leave than promoters?

2. Performance and role satisfaction

Now that you know how employees feel about your company, do you know how they feel in their role? Are they enjoying it? Are they satisfied? Does it meet their expectations?

Similar to annual employee engagement surveys, many organizations run annual, or bi-annual performance reviews. Although important, this model of performance evaluation is problematic in a number of ways:

  • Recency bias: Because they are remembered more clearly, an employee’s more recent achievements (or struggles) will be weighted more heavily than the older ones.

  • Omission of key achievements: In the same vein, it’s difficult to remember what you had for dinner last week, let alone what you did eight months ago, and thus some of your early achievements may be forgotten.

  • Non-timely feedback: If feedback isn’t given “in the moment” it loses relevance, detracts from the opportunity for improvement and poor habits may be more deeply ingrained and thus more difficult to change.

  • They’re time-consuming: Annual performance reviews take upwards of 10 hours per employee and can be stressful for both the employee and manager.

Finally, you not only miss the opportunity to nip disengagement in the bud when it starts to arise, but there’s a strong possibility that your employee will be long gone before the annual review rolls around.

However, if you use a continuous performance management approach to check in regularly with your employees and you track these check-ins with your performance management software you’ll be much more sensitive to shifts and subtle changes. This allows you to talk to your employee about any road blocks they’re facing and provide the support or growth opportunities they might need.

Additionally, you’ll be able to deliver feedback when it matters (and your employees will thank you for it!).

How to do it

At intelliHR, we send a monthly check-in pulse survey which asks employees how satisfied they are in their role (on a scale of 1-10), about their recent achievements and if there’s any support they need.

These check-ins inform the conversation when meeting face-to-face, enabling you to have more meaningful conversations, and provide a dossier of performance history that you can refer back to at any time.

Using the people analytics to dig deeper

If you’re conducting regular performance check-ins, then you’ll build up a rich bank of data that you can use to understand and drive engagement. e.g.

  • If your employee usually rates their role satisfaction as a “10” but then they drop to an “8”, typically you might think an 8 is a good rating. But because you know they’re usually a 10, on a granular level a two-point drop could indicate they’re at risk of disengagement and allows you to investigate before it escalates.

  • Are there common patterns of issues or roadblocks occurring throughout the business? I.e. are multiple employees reporting an increase in workload or challenging conditions?

3. Employee wellbeing

With data obtained on how employees feel about your company and their role, you’ll start to get a good picture of engagement and disengagement across your organization, but there’s a key piece of the puzzle missing.

How are they coping emotionally?

Traditionally organizations have shied away from asking questions about mental health and wellbeing as it’s considered “too personal” and has been heavily stigmatized.

But in recent times, thanks to COVID-19 shining light on mental health challenges, more organizations are talking about and recognizing the importance of mental health at work, and that it’s okay to not be okay.

If an employee isn’t feeling great for whatever reason (work-related or not), it can make it hard to do their best work and might be a precursor to disengagement. This is where mental health and wellbeing pulse surveys provide a simple and unobtrusive way to pick up on potential problems, and provide the opportunity to offer support.

Many companies, like legal firm Lander and Rogers, have used wellbeing check-ins to monitor the mental health of staff during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Similar to performance check-ins, by conducting these pulses regularly (fortnightly or monthly), it starts to build a profile of each employee’s “usual” level of wellbeing, so if there are any small shifts they won’t go unnoticed.

It also creates an environment of psychological safety where vulnerability isn’t punished and people are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work.

Using the people analytics to dig deeper

To try and pinpoint where issues might be occurring or if there’s anything you, as an organization, can do to help employees, explore the following:

  • Are there particular times of the year when wellbeing seems to drop? If so, what can you do to alleviate this?

  • Are there any roles that have lower levels of wellbeing than others?

  • Is there a connection between wellbeing, eNPS and performance?

  • Do your remote workers have better wellbeing than your in-office or hybrid ones, or vice versa?

4. Exit interviews and offboarding

Once a disengaged employee has gotten to the point where they’ve resigned, unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to bring them back. What you can do is use their exit to inform your future retention and employee experience strategy.

Of course, exit interviews aren’t always pretty, but this will give you some of the most valuable information on engagement and what you can do to improve it that you’re going to get (and it might surprise you).

In a McKinsey article, the top three reasons employers thought employees were leaving their jobs were compensation, work-life balance and physical and emotional health, but in actuality the top three factors employees cited for quitting were:

  • Didn’t feel valued by the organization (54%)

  • Didn’t feel valued by managers (52%)

  • Didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51%)

Using the people analytics to dig deeper

With your exit interview data, here are some questions you can ask to understand why staff are leaving:

  • Are there common reasons employees have reported for leaving?

  • Are there common reasons managers report for staff being moved on?

  • Do these reasons align?

  • When in their tenure are most people being offboarded – within the first 12 months? After 5 years?

5. Task completion

Our final tip to identify employees who might be disengaged, or at risk of becoming so, is to monitor their task completion rates. By this we mean did they actually complete the eNPS survey? Are they responding to their wellbeing check-ins each fortnight? Have they signed off on the new policies?

One of the biggest indicators of disengagement is a lack of compliance with admin-type tasks like this. Of course, it could simply mean that the employee is too busy or overwhelmed in their role or with admin tasks to do (in which case you might want to consider reducing the cadence, e.g. switch wellbeing check-ins to once-a-month). But knowing that they’re not completing their tasks is the red flag that you need to investigate why.

Trying to cross-check if employees have completed a survey done in a survey tool, signed off a policy in a word doc and updated their employee details can be messy business. A people analytics tool like intelliHR however automatically tracks task completion across employee profiles and alerts managers to non-completion or non-compliance.