Employee Insights: How to Get Them and Use Them for Retention
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Employees are the most important part of a company and its biggest investment. Regardless of how great a product or service a company offers, it’s nothing without the people behind it.
Attracting and retaining quality employees requires detailed HR planning, which requires a deep understanding of the employee experience.
Traditionally, understanding the employee experience was a cumbersome process that relied heavily on surveys. New technologies such as machine learning now make it much simpler and more efficient to gather employee insights and develop a clear view of the employee experience.
What is employee insight?
Employee insights are cornerstone pieces of information about the employee experience that enable companies to develop retention strategies and reduce employee attrition. The most valuable employee insights are directly related to factors that predict employee attrition and enable an organization to take a proactive approach to retaining employees.
Why do corporations need employee insight?
There are three main business outcomes that employee insights can help drive. Employee insights provide the foundational layer upon which HR planning can be built and executed, ideally bringing about the following results.
The ultimate goal of collecting employee insights is to reduce employee attrition. In addition to keeping all the people that get stuff done onboard, reducing employee attrition also leads to huge cost reductions.
Hiring and training new employees is one of the most expensive things companies must do. Replacing an employee can cost as much as $15,000 for an employee with a salary of $45,000. That’s why employee attrition is a trillion-dollar problem for businesses in the United States.
Reducing employee attrition significantly reduces overhead costs and frees up funds for business investment and growth.
Improve employee engagement
Maximum productivity requires an engaged workforce that is invested in accomplishing the company mission. Employee insights help company leadership monitor staff engagement levels and develop programs that improve employee engagement.
Make more informed decisions
The impact on employees must be a central factor in any big business decision. Employee insights help companies understand how people respond to major changes such as mergers and acquisitions.
It’s often impossible to reverse course on these pivotal changes. However, you can use employee insights to predict outcomes and then later compare what was expected to what happened. Maintaining a strong employee experience, even after a big shake-up, is necessary for ongoing success.
What kind of employee insights are most valuable?
Getting employee insights at scale can be tricky, and we’ll help you solve that problem shortly. Don’t let the challenge of understanding the employee experience deter you from gathering the most valuable employee insights.
As we mentioned before, the most valuable insights are directly related to the factors which predict employee attrition. These are the high-level factors that we’ve identified as being the most predictive of employee attrition, based on data from Praisidio clients.
Insights related to workload help leadership and HR understand whether or not employees are likely to experience burnout. Ideally, your data should be granular enough to give insights into which employees or groups are at the highest risk of burnout, so you can focus retention resources on the most stretched team members.
Employees are more likely to stay with a company they feel a connection with. That means they have strong relationships with their peers and feel valued by the organization as a whole.
This can be one of the trickiest factors to monitor. However, you can track metrics such as manager turnover, meeting frequency, and meeting type to help diagnose disconnection at scale.
The feeling of working hard and getting no recognition can be one of the worst feelings in a person’s professional life. Insights related to recognition help your organization understand how employees are recognized, who’s giving recognition, and how often people get kudos for their work.
Business leaders understand that competitive and fair compensation is important. However, most organizations don’t measure compensation in a way that enables them to precisely adjust pay packages to be competitive and equitable.
Measuring compa-ratio is the most efficient way to see whether or not your employees are paid fairly. The key is to measure both internal and external compa-ratios to ensure that your employees are paid fairly relative to market rates and relative to their peers within your company.
Comparing salaries based on gender and ethnicity across roles and pay ranges is also necessary, to find areas of inequity and resolve them.
Insights related to growth show you which employees are stagnating in their career growth and how much room for career development employees have within your company.
Employees who feel stuck in their career, or incorrectly trained for their role, are more likely to find a new job as a method of professional advancement. Ensuring that there’s upward mobility and adequate training in your workforce keeps your best employees from growing out of your organization.
How to get employee insights at scale
Broadly, there are two ways to gather employee insights: surveys and data analysis. They both deliver valuable information about the employee experience, but surveys are reactive while data analysis is proactive.
Let’s take a look at both.
Surveys come in three flavors: engagement, pulse, and exit.
Engagement surveys are typically longer, in-depth, and include questions about all aspects of the employee experience, from workplace culture to work-life balance. They’re conducted relatively infrequently and give an overall sense of the satisfaction and engagement of your workforce.
Pulse surveys are shorter and focused on a specific aspect of the employee experience or a recent organizational change, such as an upper management change. Pulse surveys can be conducted more frequently because they’re quicker and more focused.
Exit surveys are conducted when an employee separates from your organization. Ideally, the previous two surveys should help minimize how many exit surveys you conduct.
Surveys are great for collecting qualitative information and subjective descriptions about the employee experience.
The biggest issue with running surveys is that they are limited when it comes to detecting problems in advance, before employees start to quit. Surveys measure lagging indicators by nature, which means that the best an HR team can do is react to the findings. Problems only become visible when they’ve grown into sizeable issues and go undetected while they’re still small enough to easily manage.
Additionally, surveys rely on employees answering questions candidly and honestly, which they may not feel comfortable doing, even when survey responses are anonymous. It’s also easy to unintentionally phrase questions in ways that bias responses.
While you should use surveys when appropriate, relying on surveys alone won’t significantly reduce employee attrition.
Using data analysis to collect employee insights is a matter of using the data your company collects to identify which employees and cohorts of employees are at the highest risk of attrition. What separates data insights from surveys is that data analysis delivers employee insights in real-time and can identify problems surveys can’t.
When done right, data collection is transparent and public. This ensures employees know what is being measured and how it’s being analyzed. The last thing you want to do is reduce the employee experience while trying to improve it.
The big advantages to a data-led approach are objectivity and real-time analysis. As data is collected and analyzed impartially, there’s no room for bias. And the constant flow of data means that analysis is always up-to-date and never stale.
Data points such as the number of projects per employee, meeting load, compa ratios, and time in role are just some of the HR metrics that when combined can help predict employee attrition, with the right analysis.
Praisidio is the leader in analysis of HR data and uses predictive people analytics to identify talent risks and their root causes. Praisidio also uses this information to generate action plans to make improving the employee experience straightforward and efficient at scale.
In our experience working with Fortune 500 companies, data analysis is consistently a superior approach to surveys. Looking forward and solving attrition problems before they develop will always be a more cost-effective approach than attempting to put out fires retrospectively.
Examples of when employee insights matter
It might seem that all this surveying and data collection is a bit much.
Why not just talk to employees to find out how things are going? Isn’t monitoring employee morale one of a manager’s responsibilities?
It’s true that understanding the employee experience and working to reduce employee attrition has always been integral to business success. However, it’s a problem most companies continue to struggle with.
Surveys and manager interaction have largely failed because the issues that cause attrition are often difficult to spot or articulate, even for employees themselves. Employees give off multiple signals as their work situation deteriorates, but most are so weak, that they’re easily overlooked when seen in isolation.
Unexpected attrition amongst hourly employees
For example, a Praisidio client had incredibly high attrition among new hourly employees. The turnover was so severe that it disrupted business operations. Even worse, employees who consistently showed up on time seemed more likely to quit than those who didn’t show up on time.
Praisidio’s analytics found that employees who showed up on time, but had coworkers who consistently showed up late, were those who were most likely to quit. The company implemented a one-time bonus for new employees who were punctual.
After some testing, they found that the size of the bonus didn’t matter. The employees valued the recognition.
Without data insights, it would have been impossible to identify the source of the problem, since both managers and employees probably wouldn’t have even thought to talk about how it made punctual employees feel when their coworkers showed up late. The intuitive solution would most likely have focused on the employees who showed up late, rather than recognizing the employees who showed up on time.
Neither the problem nor the solution would have been apparent without thorough employee insights.
Mass resignations amongst professionals
In another instance, a biotech company had several of its top scientists leave in a short span of time. Praisidio used metadata from corporate communications systems to discover that all of the separated scientists had a connection with the same employee in the IT department, who had also recently departed the company.
The employee in the IT department had never been identified as a high performer, so no one suspected that his absence would have such an impact on other teams in the company. However, the lack of a direct contact for solving IT problems had such a negative impact on the employee experience that several scientists quit.
Again, this problem would have been nearly impossible to spot without data insights that mapped connections between the employees. To prevent the issue from recurring, this particular biotech company has now implemented relationship mapping as standard in its HR operations.
Ultimately, data insights help companies spot employee attrition factors that they didn’t even know existed and would be invisible to surveys and managers.
Real-time employee insights are the future of HR
Quality surveys are an important tool to have in your toolbox. However, over the years, they’ve proven to be subpar for predicting and preventing employee attrition.
Surveys alone simply cannot deliver employee insights efficiently enough to correct problems before attrition occurs. That’s why real-time data insights are the future of HR.
Real-time insights are the only way to constantly monitor factors that impact employee attrition and make adjustments on the fly, all while conducting fewer surveys (fewer exit surveys, in particular).
Using these real-time employee insights, paired with artificial intelligence, Praisidio has helped clients reduce employee attrition costs by as much as $10 million for every 2000 employees.
Book a demo to see how much Praisidio can save your company.