This article was updated on August 29, 2018.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that quits are happening at double the rate of layoffs, and voluntary turnover could still continue to rise. According to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace, there's an increase in global talent sourcing and a new focus on shifting roles within the workforce. This has positive aspects for employers and talent, but it also means your employees have unprecedented access to a global opportunity market.
Is there a way for HR leaders to anticipate employee turnover, especially in specific roles, and proactively make positions easier to transition into and out of?
Knowing When Someone Is Going to Quit
Harvard Business Review (HBR) notes that comparison and expectation can cause people to assess their current role, and job hunting skyrockets after milestone birthdays or school reunions. The patterns that lead to employee resignation are likely to be more subtle and rooted in complex analysis. Increasingly, organizations are using predictive intelligence to drill down on the micro-moments that arise before an employee puts in their notice.
Technology is helping employers monitor employee job search activity, and when quitting is examined at a micro or individual level, the data is filled with surprises. "Large companies have also begun tracking badge swipes—employees' use of an ID to enter and exit the building or the parking garage—to identify patterns that suggest a worker may be interviewing for a job," HBR reports.
Calendar data can be an early predictor of slight disengagement, while others have connected declining benefits with a likelihood to quit. Organizations are also using people analytics to identify flight risks. It's important to understand the data science behind why people leave and how it can affect your organization at a macro level. With the technology to help predict and understand quits on an individual, departmental, organizational and geographical level, HR leaders can develop strategies to combat the problem of voluntary turnover.
Make Roles and Teams Flexible
For organizations with both knowledge and hourly workers, it could pay to scale your knowledge management methods across the enterprise. There should be a distribution of duties, constant training and preparation for turnover at all levels. Facilitating flexibility in roles and teams should be a strategy to consider. As McKinsey & Company notes, "Powerful technology-enabled solutions allow companies to engage hundreds of employees in the redesign effort in real time, while identifying the cost and other implications of possible changes."
High-performing organizations are already choosing a system of team mobility rather than fixed formal structures because this can enable agility and allow rapid adaptation when talent leaves. So having the right technology in place to support those alterations should also be a top priority.
Understanding employee turnover in today's world means preparing for transition. With a culture of knowledge transfer and treating employees well post-resignation, you maintain solid relationships even after your best workers walk out the door. Managing employee exits requires strategy but also demands a healthy sense of realism. By improving knowledge management and analytics, HR leaders can minimize the impact of voluntary churn.