Article: How to predict which employees will leave in the 'Great Resignation'

Employee Engagement

How to predict which employees will leave in the 'Great Resignation'

Jo-Anne Ruhl of Workday sheds light on what could trigger employee resignations – and how HR leaders can nurture talent better and prevent this exodus.
How to predict which employees will leave in the 'Great Resignation'

More than one in four employees worldwide are forecast to be at an "above average", if not higher, level of risk for quitting their jobs, according to a global study on employee sentiment. Even now, as they remain part of their company, disengaged workers purportedly exhibit behaviours similar to colleagues who have departed from the team in the past year.

Data modelling of these risks, however, can help talent managers predict churn in what has been deemed The Great Resignation.

How can HR leaders get ahead of the trend before a wave of resignations hits their company? 

Attrition prediction models are designed to identify these pain points, zeroing in on areas of the business that are most at-risk of losing top talent. According to Peakon, which studied the trend among 60,000 leavers in the study cited above, a number of factors may provide a clue as to who will likely depart: accomplishment, reward and workload, among other variables.

Different employee populations can yield varying turnover data, and Peakon accounts for these nuances based on trends in employee responses, response rates and the overall data on tenure.

READ MORE: Forget the Great Resignation. These workers are facing a 'Great Delay'

Aside from these factors, the COVID-19 crisis also played a significant role in the timing of these departures. The uncertainty brought about by the crisis may have led workers – who were already eager to leave their company – to postpone their resignation plans.

"Before the pandemic, potential leavers could be identified around six months before their actual departure, with turnover intention dropping significantly during that time," analysts from Peakon said.

"During the pandemic, however, it was possible to identify potential leavers up to 11 months ahead of time, as they showed a more gradual decline in engagement scores."

That's an additional 157 days of exhibiting lower engagement during the pandemic even though employees demonstrated behaviours that suggested they were planning to leave, Peakon found.

Employee engagement can, however, be measured better through sentiment analysis. Insights derived from surveys, for example, can help talent leaders formulate their strategy towards keeping workers happy, healthy, engaged and satisfied.

This is especially true now that the pandemic has "shifted employee priorities and perspectives, in terms of what they look for in an employer," said Jo-Anne Ruhl, Senior Regional Director (ANZ) of Workday, parent company of Peakon.

"If employers can't provide what employees are looking for, or can't accommodate their needs, employees are going to look elsewhere."

Purpose-driven work

The downside, Jo-Anne said, is that many organisations still don't have adequate systems and processes in place to understand in real time what employees truly want and need. 

"While salary remains a significant factor, an organisation's purpose and values are becoming extremely important to many employees," Jo-Anne told People Matters.

READ MORE: Power to the people? How workplace dynamics are shifting

A key theme that has gained prominence in the past year is the desire for:

• Diversity, equity and inclusion

• Health and well-being

• Ongoing growth and development

One thing Jo-Anne cautions against, however, is the overrealiance on surveys as a catch-all method to understanding employee sentiment. The more important task of talent leaders today is to hold a dialogue with their people.

"Organisations need to move beyond surveys and start to listen to employees and engage in real-time dialogue," she said.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Culture, Talent Management

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