Article: Data patterns and mining it well

HR Analytics

Data patterns and mining it well

Constructive way of putting things in perspective is to look at the data (qualitative or quantitative) to get the answers to your nagging challenges.
Data patterns and mining it well

Diane was visibly upset as we caught up for Friday evening drinks. Waiting for the music and food to cheer her up, she tried to get into the weekend groove and then finally gave up. And on that cue I asked her “what happened?”

“Hear me out and then we will forget about it. I am not letting an email spoil my weekend.”

“Fair enough” I said. 

As Diane explained the crux of the matter was a report that her team publishes every fortnight. The report shared with all senior management provides details of all employees who are serving the notice period post resigning from the organization.

Diane explained that since the organization has 60-90 days of notice period, this provides the managers across the business unit to be aware of associates who should not be considered for new assignments without planned handovers.

I still didn’t understand how this report could have upset Diane and hence I asked so.

“One of the executive manager shot a mail marked to the entire senior managers and executive management, asking me as to what’s the point of the email and how do I expect them to use this data”, explained Diane the core reason of her being upset.

“I will talk to him next week. Let’s just forget about it for now” said Diane as she decided to encourage the live band and join the crowd on the dance floor.

The next day I couldn’t forget the conversation knowing well that Diane’s business unit had a strength of 10K plus associates and a very high attrition rate too. Hence, the report totally made sense but maybe providing only list of all employees serving the notice period was equivalent t providing raw data open to interpretation.

The “talk to him next week” needed to go the right way lest it snowballed into weeks of grouchy Fridays! (Yeah, I didn’t want that for me!)

Hence I spent some time on a few suggestions I wanted to share with Diane. Though it was not required of Diane or her team to interpret the data but I believe that the best way to go for a meeting with executive management is to go prepared with possible solutions, always. 

A high attrition rate itself is a cause of concern but if the data around the same is not being analyzed or leveraged properly that further compounds the problem because the measures to plug the same might be lacking the right direction.

Here are a few suggestions I shared with Diane: 

New data

Since her team was publishing the names of all associates who were serving the notice period the fortnightly file would eventually just become a huge roster with new names being added every fortnight while the previous ones would still be there (as most of the folks would complete their notice period after 60 or 90 days). 

Hence the first suggestion I gave to Diane was to demarcate “new resignation” since the previous report. This would enable the managers to glance through names quickly rather than trying to figure what’s new.

Graphical representations

Now I am not a huge fan of fancy infographics unless they really are required. While being a good marketing tool , daily operations could just do the same with smart graphs with clearly worded labels.

Hence the following graphs would enable a good data representation and inferences that could be drawn from the same:

Interpret the Data:

Change in Attrition Patterns: A simple histogram showing the # of new resignation since last fortnight. This graph could then be plotted for every month / quarter.

Attrition across organisational layers: A very useful pattern is to be able view where is the attrition levels high. While a high attrition at the starting levels of an organization is itself worrisome, if the flight patterns are pointing north for middle and senior management (% wise) the senior executives need to pay heed.

Is the itch too early: One of the parameters which mostly doesn’t get much attention is the attrition of employees within 2-3 years of service? 

Managers and executive management need to review this set of resignations intently as this is a clear indication of either mismatch in expectations, challenges with immediate manager or changing market which has created new opportunities for the associates who have yet not spent long time with the organizations.

In contrast to these early defections, organization should also review another set of employees. These are the employees who have neither been promoted nor have been rated among star performers and are struck in the same role. These employees are not resigning nor growing. Managers need to either motivate these employees or challenge them with new assignments, however the status quo rather slowly creates a set of employees who drag the unit down with their lack of enterprise. 

Insight on Reason of Resignation: Every exit interview tries to capture the reason for employee exit however if left to the system many employees choose to leave it either blank or write a few word which hardly provides any insight. 

Data representation will throw an easy to read chart showing reasons of resignation, giving not only an insight of why is the organization loosing employees but rather how little you know of the reason will be more visible. 

Silver lining

The fact that the Diane’s organization had a 60-90 days of notice period gave an opportunity for the managers to try to retain the associates and engage in a constructive discussion. 

If leveraged in the right way managers across the BU could possibly provide opportunities to associates across projects, BU, technologies, functions etc. The insights into the reasons of attrition would help management to plan the candidates they could possibly focus on and channelize retention efforts.

Diane’s team could surely create a positive buzz by publishing numbers of associates who got retained post their resignation and enable managers to pursue this line of thought.

Plough it back

The key to any report is if the source of the data or process could derive actionable inferences and help the managers to plough back these for process refinement and positive outcomes. 

Diane’s team could enable the talent management team to improve the process to capture the resignation reasons better, enable managers with attrition data prior to yearly cycles of promotions and salary hikes and provide a year on year view on these parameters to executive management. 

Now, Diane might want to pick and choose some of these suggestions or plan these over a period of time in phased manner.

Topics: HR Analytics

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