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Key behavioral metrics to help you identify attrition, according to experts

Prodoscore has used data to identify behavior patterns of employees looking to jump ship.

Allie Nawrat

workforce attrition
Credit: Adam Kuylenstierna via Twenty20.

Unleash Your Curiosity What are the warning signs of employee attrition?

  • Workforce attrition and employee turnover are very costly for employers — but technology can help you identify the signs before someone leaves for good.
  • Here’s a look at what you need to look out for and how to line the dots.
  • Spoiler: Employees who left their company had an average 33% decline in calendar time and a 51% reduction in calendar activity.

workforce attrition is a huge problem for businesses.

Replacing an employee can cost up to nine months of their salary – this means that for someone earning $60,000, their employer may have to shed out $45,000 in recruiting and training costs for their replacement, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. So, it doesn’t take much to figure out why employers need to find ways to retain their talent.

Giving someone a small pay rise – let’s say to $65,000 – would be a lot more cost-effective than spending $45,000 to replace them.

To tackle the employee turnover problem, productivity intelligence company Prodoscore’s Research Council (PRC) has used technology to identify the early signs that employees are looking to jump ship.  

Prodoscore CEO Sam Naficy said: “Insight into potential attrition is a huge benefit to leadership.

“Being able to mitigate surprise resignations, or prepare for them, can save businesses thousands of dollars.

“The implications are far-reaching and will allow managers to make better informed decisions in general.”

PRC principal statistical consultant Adrian Reece added: “Technology is truly allowing us to see behaviors that go unseen.

“Using data to assess how people actually show up to work differently offers a new vantage point to inform leaders on what patterns and performance fluctuations are normal behavior and when it’s best to intervene.”

So what are the warning signs of workforce attrition?

A reduction in working hours

Based on four million data points from up to 5,000 employees over a 12-week period in 2021, the PRC found that staff who were keen to change jobs reduced their working hours between five and seven weeks before leaving.

This only increased as they got closer to leaving the job. The PRC found that 21 days before leaving, these employees worked an hour and 30 minutes less a day than their colleagues who stayed at the company. This increased further to two hours and seven minutes just seven days before leaving.

Breaking the figures down even more, the data showed that individuals who stayed in their role worked one minute earlier and one minute later than usual, whereas those who were looking to leave started 16 minutes late and finished 24 minutes earlier on average in the three weeks prior to leaving.

Reduction in use of email and calendar

Another sign of disengagement with their job was a decrease in email volume and in calendar time. This change in behavior occurred up to 40 days prior to the employee leaving their role – but the change was most dramatic in the three weeks prior.

Across the 12-week period studied, employees who left their company had an average 33% decline in calendar time and a 51% reduction in calendar activity.

When combined with a decline in their Prodoscore, which relies on artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing to measure daily productivity, these indicators were 89% accurate at predicting workforce attrition.

In addition, the PRC found that interaction with co-workers also declined significantly in staff looking to leave. There was a 52.5% reduction in voice, video activity, as well as messaging and chat activity, in advance of attrition.

[Read more: Want to retain staff? Don’t force them return to the office.]

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