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What the Great Disruption and data can teach us about employee attrition

by uma

By Tom Ricks, Senior Director, HR Systems and People Analytics at Qlik
Over 69 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021. Originally dubbed the Great Resignation, this massive movement of workers has gone through various names, including the more opportunity-led Great Recruitment and the most recent Great Disruption. This last one is perhaps the most important. It recognises that – in order to stem the ongoing tide of employee attrition – employers need to better understand the reasons behind why people started to leave in the first place and re-think what is important when it comes to the employee experience.

Flexibility, for example, is top of most people’s lists after two years of remote working. Opportunities to re-skill for the jobs of tomorrow is another key consideration for workers looking for new challenges and job security. Getting under the skin of what workers want from their employer and their role will give employers a much greater chance of retaining employees and competing for new talent.

That job is being firmly placed in the hands of Chief HR and People Officers who are under pressure to not only reduce employee attrition but also improve the ability to find and successfully introduce new hires. And they are answering to a wide range of stakeholders in the business, all of which are impacted by high attrition and its effect on commercial success (attrition impacts sales, customers, and productivity), minimising costs (the total cost of replacing staff averages at between 6 and 9 months of an employee’s total salary) and improving employee satisfaction (an indirect effect of attrition can be the impact on other working relationships or team make-up).

A more dynamic relationship with data and information – that will empower HR leaders to be more agile in the moment – can make this job much easier and more impactful. There is no doubt that the resignation and recruitment drivers will shift again and those that are using data to deliver Active Intelligence – a state of continuous intelligence that delivers real time, up-to-date information designed to trigger immediate actions – will have the competitive edge. The question is, how?

Using data to maximise people value

Some are already finding that edge. Recent Qlik research has revealed that employees working in HR report their use of data and its importance in decision-making has more than doubled over the past year, with 69% also stating that using data enables them to do their job better. People are a business’ most important asset, and to maximise their value HR and leadership teams must be able to understand what makes their workforce most productive and predict the impact of change. By making the most of people data, they can better recruit the right talent and make them, and existing employees, happier and more productive.

How can HR teams use data better?

When it comes to the challenge of attrition, a better understanding of where strain in the organisation is originating from and how it could impact even the most stable workers is vital in reducing employee movement and ensuring timely action is taken on at-risk employees.
An analytics data pipeline that brings together talent reviews, recruitment statistics, pay ranges, engagement surveys and other information related to the wider employee experience can provide incredibly valuable insights into the factors that could influence people to leave your business and seek other opportunities.

The integration of machine learning can even help predict attrition data and current employee data so that HR leaders can make changes now to deal with problems before they arise. With the ability to set up alerts based on pre-determined triggers within the data, HR leaders can monitor the situation in real time to launch career planning and/or attrition reviews for at-risk high performing employees. And by doing this in a cloud-based analytics platform, HR teams can analyse sensitive employee data where it is stored rather than moving it for analysis to uphold important data privacy and governance measures.

Responding to a ‘workers market’ with creativity and individuality

Today’s labor market is a ‘workers market’ with job-hunters asking, “why should I work for you when there are many other opportunities on the table?”. As Kate Duchene, CEO of global consulting firm RGP suggests, with talent in control “the word of the day is ‘creativity’ in the labor markets”.

Now is the time for HR leaders to get creative with how they and their teams use, interrogate and gain insights from data. The last few years have shown us that the one –size-fits-all approach doesn’t work anymore. By putting in place a well-executed people analytics and data strategy that is designed to address the needs of individual talent, at organisational scale, HR teams can help ensure employees thrive and job-hunters see the benefits that an organisation can offer to them as individuals.


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