How to analyze employee turnover data

In The Workplace
Reylito A.H Elbo

Posted on June 01, 2012

I’m new to the call center industry that continues to suffer from a high turnover rate of employees, now reaching almost 70%. The industry appears to have been accustomed to it and would prefer to hire more people than solve the root problem. I don’t think we can go on forever just like that. Can you give us some tips on how to manage this issue? -- Tired of Hiring

A taxi passenger tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the car and stopped just several inches from a shop window. The driver turned around and said, “Boss, please don’t do that again. You scared the daylights out of me.�

The passenger apologized and said he didn’t realize that a tap on the shoulder could scare the driver so much. The driver replied: “Sorry, it’s not your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver. I’ve been driving hearses for the last 25 years.�

Likewise, employee turnover has become a serious problem for many organizations in the call center industry. Management can appear like the taxi driver who has been driving for a funeral company. Like your industry, the taxi driver has been accustomed to his ways in the memorial service.

I’m using this story to exaggerate a bit. But really, the basic issues on how to retain employees and reduce the cost of hiring are things that could hamper the call center’s profitable operations. Despite these, however, employee turnover data continues to be the most disregarded and undervalued information among those in management. Although they’re aware of problems associated with turnover, managers would rather ignore them by continuous poaching and unimpeded piracy of their competitor’s employees.

Jack Philips and Adele Connell, in their book Managing Employee Retention (2003) say that retention is an important strategy for many organizations. Management cannot afford to ignore it because “retention issues are measured with bottom-line results.� This means that managers must be fully accountable in identifying and understanding the cost of the problem (high turnover), cost of the solutions (massive hiring), and their potential and actual impacts which are determinable in monetary terms.

Managers and their respective organizations must translate their findings into actual, measurable facts and figures for them to understand what’s happening around them. If you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage it. One starting point is to analyze your company’s turnover data. This includes data in different categories and various job characteristics.

Philips and Connell write that you have to develop an appropriate database system to dissect how critical your turnover rate is. This can be easily done with the help of the human resource information systems (HRIS) that provides “multiple options for capturing, dissecting, and analyzing data.�

In analyzing the HRIS record, Philips and Connell prescribe the following questions:

1. Which major group contains the most turnover? (Example: professional)
2. Which specific job category contains the most turnover? (Ex: senior client partner)
3. Which specific function contains the most turnover? (Ex: outbound sales )
4. Which specific department contains the most turnover? (Ex: operations)
5. Which specific area/region contains the most turnover? (Ex: Makati)
6. What is the timing of most turnover statistics? (Ex: mid-January)
7. What is the tenure of most turnover statistics? (Ex: average of four months)
8. What is the age of most turnover statistics? (Ex: 21-26 years old)
9. What is the educational level of most turnover statistics? (Ex: first-year college)
10. What is the sex of most turnover statistics? (Ex: male)
11. What is the ethnic or regional background of most turnover statistics? (Ex: Visayan)
12. What is the marital status of most turnover statistics? (Ex: single)
13. What is the family status of most turnover statistics? (Ex: separated parents)
The answers to these questions provide only one dimension. The other dimension must come from loyal employees. To find out, you must directly ask these people what motivates them to stay and what could motivate them to leave. Again, let me emphasize the futility of an exit interview. It is too late for you to do just that.

Don’t do exit interviews unless you want to get distorted answers from resigned employees who are only interested in securing their terminal pay on time.

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To learn from a terrible turnover data, you must first realize that you did a terrible mistake.

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