Workforce Analytics: Are You Retaining Your Highest Performers?

The importance of identifying and keeping your star performers


A company’s success rests on its employees. No matter how good the technology or systems it has in place, if there’s no-one to push them to their full potential, they will likely flounder.

Identifying the best members of staff can be difficult though. The process is often clouded by personal prejudice, or an HR professional’s belief in their own, often unreliable, ‘gut instinct’. It may even simply be that the nature of someone’s role means that they add value but fly largely under the radar, and what they contribute goes unseen by those who matter.

Workforce analytics is helping those unappreciated few come to the fore by providing a better measure of employee value whilst building a more complete picture of their workforce and the ways to improve it. It also helps organizations to retain their most important staff, and anyone else recognized as a high performer, by pinpointing when they may quit and how to go about stopping them.

According to Randstad Sourceright’s 2015 Talent Trends Survey of global HR leaders, 56% said they were now using talent analytics and insights to inform their workforce planning process. Such a number is relatively low, and there are many things that HR departments could be doing better to exploit analytics.

Of those HR departments that don’t utilize analytics, many are hindered by lack of access to the necessary technology and skillsets with which to interpret the data. Much of what HR professionals still do is simply reporting, as opposed to actual analytics. Workforce analytics is about taking large sets of historical employee data and looking for correlations and patterns. Statistical techniques such as tests of significance, factor analysis, and multivariate analysis should be applied, with charts produced to map out all the information available about a team.

HR departments can leverage the insights garnered in a number of ways, but it first needs to be looking at the right metrics. It needs to look at the voluntary termination rate of high performers, and how the turnover rate of high performers varies by position tenure. It also needs to use the data from personality tests to judge what it is that may be causing people to leave, and actions to take to make them feel they are being attended to. HR can hold initial meetings with the client to develop a variety of diagnostic factors that would aid even the more obvious things, such as present and past work performance, span of control, level, benefits, and salary, as well as other, not so obvious factors, such as supervisor performance.

An example of this in practise is the HR department that noticed a number of high performers were leaving the company. These were people who had also been found to be highly emotionally attuned to the company - actually liking the company and their role. But they left anyway. The firm conducted post-exit surveys and focus groups with current high-performers, finding that the high emotional engagement of these employees did not make up for the lack of career opportunities. As a result, the HR department put a strategy in place that ensured their needs were catered for, and retention rates increased. 


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