T@W Weekly: Taking on Goodbye

Preventing turnover with data, emerging tech, and remote work advantages

The Word: Predicting Turnover

When I worked in HR, we weren’t able to analyze workforce data the way we can now, but figuring out turnover has been something that many of my colleagues in HR were always trying to figure out. Some warning signs included:

  • Being passed up for a promotion

  • Direct manager changing

  • Having a child

  • Moving further away from work

  • Project completions

  • Long vacations

Some of these make sense on the surface — being passed up for a promotion naturally makes you think of your career trajectory. Others aren’t always as straight forward — people can take a long vacation before starting a new job because they know they won’t be able to do that for awhile.

In Harvard Business Review, professors Brooks Holtom and David Allen shared research on creating a score called turnover propensity index (or, TPI). Using publicly available information, they scored whether a person would be likely to be open to changing jobs.

They tested whether TPI could predict two things: Whether they showed more openness to recruitment messages and whether they were more likely to change jobs in a given timeframe. Those with higher TPI scores both opened recruitment messages at a significantly higher rate and were 63% more likely to change jobs in the three-month period they tracked.

Their conclusions show the enormous opportunity for organizations (emphasis mine):

Our work in this area is demonstrating that by using big data, firms can track indicators of turnover propensity and identify employees who may be at an elevated risk of leaving the organization. This proactive anticipation may allow leaders to intervene to increase the odds of retaining top talent. Moreover, organizations have a huge advantage over outside researchers at developing their own TPI using internal data. Firms can anticipate organizational shocks such as litigation or regulatory actions. In addition to publicly available data, firms have access to other turnover shock data, such as work anniversaries, new educational credentials and birth or wedding announcements, though they have to take care not to violate employee privacy. And firms can track factors that signal job embeddedness, such as participation in career development opportunities, organizational improvement initiatives, or peer recognition programs.

If outside organizations can reliably figure out if your employees are a flight risk, your only advantage is going to be able to know more and anticipate possible impacts to turnover. But, we also can’t do it in a way that violates our workforce’s privacy and trust.

Good luck with that.

What the Click?

  • Microsoft is moving Lynda.com users to LinkedIn Learning. Part of the problem? They require a LinkedIn account, something librarians and teachers are not happy with. No matter how straight-forward, transitions are painful.

  • Speaking of LinkedIn, they announced that they removed over 20M user accounts in the first half of 2019. Increased scrutiny around social networks unlikely will impact them the same as Twitter or Facebook but LinkedIn has to be vigilant about this.

  • Steve Boese writes for HRE about the training technology that Walmart used to save lives during an active shooter situation. It’s still absolutely nuts that we have to offer this training but ignoring it does a disservice to employees on the front lines — literally.

  • Entelo acquired ConveyIQ and raised more funding. Talent acquisition technologies will continue to consolidate, and the Entelo and ConveyIQ combination represent how experience and automation come together.

  • Dice’s blog covers how Alphabet’s DeepMind is burning cash while its major customers are… other Alphabet companies. The confounding strategy of competing subsidiaries with overlapping functionality seems like an unnecessary drain.

  • Deloitte’s Chris Havrilla covers how HR leaders need to bet on next-gen technology. One takeaway: There is some effort here in rethinking or “recoding” work itself.

The Impact of Emerging Technology in the Workplace

Yours truly was featured by Human Resource Executive in a round up of influencers and their thoughts on the impact of emerging technology on HR and the workplace.

They asked us all specific questions but if I could freeform the bigger question, I think it goes well beyond the mistakes that HR organizations make when implementing new technologies or the biggest shifts happening in technology today. After all, in most areas of business technology, innovations are taking place and mistakes are made during implementation.

In talking to and researching the views of thousands of employees and other workers (like contractors), they only really care about technology at work in two ways:

  • Does it make my day-to-day work easier

  • Does it make my day-to-day work harder

Some technologies can be both. For example, Outlook can be a huge distraction for many workers but if it goes down, it makes it harder for most to get work done. Most internal systems are either a helper or hinderance to work.

Also, consider the impact of recruiting technologies on candidates, as another example.

HR leaders think about most of their systems from an administration and cost center point of view but employees just think the organization is incompetent or purposefully making life more difficult when technology makes their work more difficult. Explaining why an employee needs a different login to manage their address and payroll information than they need to access federally mandated training seems ridiculous from their point of view. That’s not to mention the fact that many IT administrators block the installation of tools like password managers that at least empower them to make it easier.

Organizations may think about user experience of individual pieces of software but, at least from an employee’s point of view, they rarely think about the holistic work experience. And, when they abruptly force change on users, it can be a real drag on the experience, even if the end result may be “better” by some measures.

Good work software should either measurably improve people’s day-to-day work or it should try to make itself as invisible as possible. Most people in the working world don’t care about discussions of best of breed versus suites, AI and RPA, or UX refreshes. They just want to work without technology getting in the way.

T@W Podcast of the Week

HR Happy Hour talked to Dick Richardson about leadership lessons from the Apollo moon missions. Doing ambitious work takes a lot of working pieces and a vision that is shared by all. Richardson has a great perspective on what it takes to accomplish this in the largest ways. It’s 40 minutes that’s worth your time.

And Finally… Accepting Your Emotional State

Today is a big day for our household. My daughter gets on the bus to start her first day of kindergarten and my wife starts a new job in a new industry. It’s also a busy week, with work travel planned in addition to a regular slate of work that keeps me busy.

While I’ll probably shed a few tears for one of those events, they both come with some level of anxiety. Being out of control of things is an idea I’ve had to become more comfortable with as I get deeper into my marriage and parenting journeys. Taking two days of that first week of school and being out of town is just another level of giving up control I’ll manage.

One thing that has helped is working from home, something I’ve done for the better part of a decade (with a year-long interruption). While all the press on working from home has been how it’s more productive, I think there is an emotional benefit, too. Feeling like you have to bring someone completely stable to the office, especially in body language and appearance, is something you don’t have to worry about when working remote. Being able to opt-out of being on camera is a small measure of control and freedom.

Today, I won’t be switching on my camera and I’ll be able to get out of my seat without having to worry about how I look to other people. Processing a big day of change emotionally is a gift, though.

Cheers, Lance