By the time an employer knows that an employee is leaving, it’s often too late to change their mind. Tools like artificial intelligence technology can inform retention strategies and help employers predict who is most likely to leave, as well as what incentives might encourage them to stay.
One motivation for employees to switch jobs, for example, is a pay increase or job promotion. According to Gartner, a research and advisory firm, an employee receives an average 15% increase in salary when moving to a new company. Fewer opportunities for promotion means switching to another job, especially for talented employees.
What can companies do to improve their employee retention strategies?
Why Exit Interview Process Doesn’t Work
When an organization becomes aware of an employee leaving, it’s a little too late to take meaningful action. A first notice in the form of an employee resignation is the first indication that change is needed. Often a company and an employee discuss what are the reasons for resigning. It may be a question of employee compensation, benefits, or changing responsibilities. It’s in the company’s best interest to try to negotiate new terms rather than lose an employee. The costs of finding and replacing an employee is significant, surpassing the tens of thousands. Or an employee’s resignation could mean that another opportunity has opened up. Either way, most organizations depend on two means to gauge employee sentiment.
These retention strategies are annual employee surveys and exit interviews.
Many companies deploy surveys to measure the temperature around critical issues like employee motivation, job performance, and the effectiveness of HR policy. They are meant to predict what factors may lead to employees leaving. Exit interviews give information about why a specific employee is leaving, but the information is a too-late given.
Understanding why employees leave before a letter of resignation rolls in is critical. Gaining a snap-shot of employees behaviors and attitudes gives hiring managers and senior leadership the resources to take pre-emptive action
Research shows behavioral intention is the most indicative of an employee leaving. Felt stress and organizational commitment were also the strongest predictors. Interestingly, absenteeism (not coming into work) is not a strong indicator.
How AI Identifies Risks and Opportunities for Employees
AI and big data support talent management professionals in understanding which employees may have a bigger risk of attrition. Using AI retention tools may look like monitoring industry skills, the skills of current employees, and the ones they’ll need to acquire to gain a promotion. Another AI retention tool could be understanding an employee engagement and how an employee's values and motivational needs are met within the organization. Employee engagement is typically defined by the actual conditions in the workplace (the environment and the work itself) and workers’ opinions and behaviors (how the employees perceive their relationship with their work, as well as how they view others around them relating to their work).
By measuring an employee’s likelihood of leaving, a company is able to more accurately predict and fix an underlying problem.
Employee engagement must be further than an once-a-year review on employee needs or attitudes. With digital tools on hand, organizations are taking advantage to keep a closer understanding of how employees are handling their positions and navigating their career.
Using AI to Equip Retention Strategies and Leaders
By using artificial intelligence in human resources practices and leadership planning, in-house talent can be groomed to take on more responsibility within a growing company. Depending on the needs of the employee, a talent manager can tailor training and development to support the employee’s career plans---and company’s goals.
Encourage Employee Growth By Training
For companies, making strategic investments in employee development is vital for strengthening teams and guaranteeing the continued success of a company. Deciding where to invest in training is an important budgeting issue. Employee training in the U.S. costs $70.65 billion---a tremendous amount of human and financial perhaps not efficiently allocated. If employers don’t consider the goals and objectives of their employees, training investment may go to waste.
Training is not necessarily about department workshops. While those are helpful, human resource professionals should instruct employees to ask themselves where they want to develop their skill set. It can be around a new tool, a new department, or management technique. When retention strategies work it’s due to tailored solutions. Have employees ask themselves, “When was the last time I did something at work for the first time?”
This kind of question gives employees the chance to deliberate about where they can see their own interests and growth taking them.
Create Nuanced Employee Surveying
Exit interviews and employee surveys are not really creating a lively pulse of the organization. Yet far too often, HR professionals must use these lengthy surveys to gather scope of employee engagement and well-being. They’re either conducted on an annual or quarterly basis, depending on need. These surveys are neither particularly dynamic nor stimulating to actually create engaged and thoughtful responses. Even how surveys themselves are created may not make for the most nuanced reporting. For example, the responses of "neutral", "agree", "strongly agree" ratings tend to be difficult to interpret and may have limited capacity in creating significant insights for talent managers. One difference in making a survey of impact is one that is carefully designed. One advantage of using an AI retention tool could be adapting survey design to certain departments, employees at a certain seniority level, and other employee needs.
Meeting Employees’ Concrete Needs
In Harvard Business School’s latest global survey, one of the startling findings was, on average, HR professionals lagged far behind other professionals in working within a “highly digital environment and (using) data to guide business decisions”. This creates a credibility gap between HR and higher-ups. Only 11% of business leaders trust their HR departments to integrate data into how they find and advance talent. For the modern HR professional, tying HR metrics with bottom-line success is key. Scaling a team’s data skills in tandem with getting people-first will become a necessary art as the role becomes a liaison between technology and people.
Companies are supposed to be reinventing how employees are engaged with their work and the company. AI helps spark new ideas and will support hiring and recruitment to create new work methods, individualized for each employee. Some employees may find inspiration from working from home, within a large team, or are incredibly interested in growing their skill set. This can all help keep employees from leaving the company--and help them find their own sense of fulfillment.
With AI, employers can better understand and plan for employee retention strategies and employee engagement. Deeper perspectives into the work lives of employees helps them to feel prioritized and feel they can grow within a company.