Interpreting the stats: tips for analyzing employee turnover

I have to admit, I am not a big sports fan. I mean sure, I enjoy the excitement and social aspect of cheering for your team, following favorite players and celebrating a victory, but the minute I hear the SportsCenter hosts spouting off numbers and comparing those numbers to other numbers, which they reference with previous numbers and anticipated numbers, I’m out. I typically love a challenge but this is one area where I am fine with not understanding what they’re talking about and not attempting to understand what all that means. However, the truth is, those who understand the stats are better connected to the game. They understand what’s typical, what’s out of the ordinary, whether or not a player’s game was good or bad and what they can usually expect from a team.

Like so many things in life, there are lessons to be learned here that translate to our jobs as Human Resource professionals. Employee turnover can be a very complicated issue in the workplace, leaving you with the option of being like the head-in-the-sand type of fan or the type who studies their teams, learning their stats inside and out. If you’re ready to analyze your organization’s employee turnover and discover not only what the numbers are but also what the data says, take a look at the tips below.

First things first

Before you dive into the world of numbers, make sure you have a good grasp on the game. In this case, the game is the issue of turnover, and there’s a lot to know about it in order to understand the implications of the data you have. From dispelling myths to seeing what it can mean for your business, do a quick run through before you jump into the numbers.

Separate the good from the bad

Since there is good and bad turnover, you’ll first want to separate the two because not all turnover is equal. This gives a clearer picture of what issues surround each type and saves time from analyzing the data as a whole when there are very different solutions for cutting back on the two types. For instance, good turnover might include the typical healthy type, but as they say, too much of a good thing is bad. Too much of this type could mean that job descriptions need to be more accurate, you’re recruiting the wrong people or there are other issues with hiring. On the other hand, bad turnover is addressed in an entirely different way and typically reveals the need for changes within the organization.

Get to the root of the problem

This is the step where you look at what’s causing your turnover problems. Here are several areas too look at and questions to ask when evaluating them:

  • Bad management – Have you lost a large number of employees from one business area? Is productivity down and behavioral problems on the rise in a certain group? People stay and go based mainly on who they work for and with. Are your managers helping or hurting?
  • Compensation – Are your offerings competitive in relation to your industry, specific skills and geographic location? Money isn’t everything, but it’s certainly a significant motivator if employees are offered a new job.
  • Knowledge gap, lack of training or “wrong fit” – Are you terminating a lot of employees for not being able to perform at work? The problem could lie with your recruiting and hiring practices, onboarding or training opportunities.
  • Annual or seasonal trends – Does the data reveal that you lose more employees at a certain time of the year? What can you do during these times of year – or better yet three to six months in advance – to prevent this?
  • Length of employment – Are you losing a lot of employees within the first year? This could mean orientation and involvement need to be amped up so employees connect with co-workers. Are you losing employees after 5 or 10 years? This could signify the need for restructuring to allow for more growth and advancement.

The whole picture

Another way you can get a clear picture of what’s going on with your turnover is to look beyond data. 360-degree evaluations (done the right way!), exit interviews and employee focus groups can all be extremely effective in revealing where problems lie. While it is sometimes difficult to tie 360-degree evaluations or focus groups specifically to turnover, you can bet that if your workforce sees something as a problem, those who have left probably do as well.

What tips would you add to this list of tips for analyzing employee turnover? Let us know in the comments section below.

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