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Which star performer will leave your organisation next?

If you toss a coin it will either come up heads or tails. Unfortunately, when it comes to managing talent, you are not always certain of the odds of a star performer leaving.

Managing talent is a like aiming at a moving target. Individuals in scarce skills areas such as data science, IT, and finance are very mobile and are always on a prospective employer’s radar. The competitors fishing in your talent pool are not only local but are global too.

According to Manpower’s tenth Annual Talent Shortage Survey published in 2015, 31% of employers in South Africa surveyed reported difficulty in filling job vacancies, compared to 8% in the previous year. The argument for retaining your talent is suddenly more compelling than ever.

In 2014, Adcorp estimated that there were 470 000 positions in the private sector in South Africa, which could be filled almost immediately if skills were available. Some 52% of these positions were in management with the balance in areas such as accounting, law, and medicine. Anecdotal evidence suggests there is a similar skills shortage in the South African public sector as well.

Not even the so-called dream employers get it entirely right. Given the global war for talent, it is imperative that companies view talent as a scarce and valuable resource. Even Amazon and Google struggle with staff turnover. TechRepublic provides two fascinating statistics here: the average age of employees at Amazon is 32, and 29 at Google. Employee turnover at these two poster children of the digital age is 12 months and 13 months respectively.

Conventional wisdom suggests employees typically leave around the four-year mark. But from analysing millions of resumes, recruiter, Entelo has come up with rules of thumb for when employees are most susceptible to leave their organisation. They argue that the optimal times to recruit talent are when individuals have been with their current employer for 8-10 months, 20-22 months or 32-34 months. They also observe that employees who have been in a company’s employ for one year, are ten times more likely to ‘jump ship’ than someone who has been in the same job for five or more years. Millennials stand out as a category on their own. According to Entelo, millennials typically remain with an organisation for only 1-3 years.

It’s not always about money Financial reward is important, but it is not always about money. Employees attach importance to the value of the brand, culture, and the opportunity to do interesting work.

More employers nowadays are using people analytics to help predict employee turnover. By factoring in a slew of variables such as performance ratings and the size and date of the last salary increase, they can begin to identify talent at risk of leaving the organisation. Flight risk algorithms also factor in seemingly unrelated variables such as the length of an employee’s daily commute, their manager’s tenure in his or her role and even an employee’s vacation destination.

Armed with this information, organisations can put measures in place to retain their star performers, before the employee may have come to a conscious decision to quit themselves.

If you want the upper hand in the war for talent, people analytics has to be a core component of your talent management strategy.

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