As with many elements of today’s society, the workplace is undergoing an evolution. More and more people are opting to leave their jobs or change career paths, with research finding that only 28 percent of millennials plan to stay in their current role for more than five years. Employees are no longer entering the world of work with a life-long vision, instead switching between jobs and employers at an increasingly high rate – leading to the rise of the so-called ‘quitting economy’.

There’s no doubt that this new environment has created retention challenges for businesses. When it comes to replacing an employee, for example, organisations face issues such as recruitment costs and culture changes. Productivity is lost, workloads are thrown off balance and they have to invest in further training schemes.

Alongside this, a range of industries are currently facing a shortage of digital skills, meaning the competition to attract and retain talent is fiercer than ever. Job vacancies for tech specialists are now at an ‘all-time-high’, as revealed by a recent report from Tech Nation. What’s more, despite the majority of tech vacancies being advertised in London, a new study from Accenture has highlighted that cities across the country are also experiencing extreme demand for people with tech skills. But with these upcoming tech hubs at risk of being overlooked, the ‘war for talent’ could potentially create a North-South skills divide.

Each of these elements, combined with the growth of the ‘quitting economy’, have caused business leaders to seriously look at their employee retention strategies – which is why they are turning to solutions like people analytics. By applying this emerging technology, companies are able to assess data trends amongst their workforce, with the goal of predicting and pinpointing any issues and then generating the appropriate solutions to overcome or prevent them.

Investing in the people

The aim of people analytics is to identify the workforce’s behaviour, trends and habits through collecting and analysing employee data. By interpreting this data, companies of all sizes are able to obtain valuable insight, including a more personal understanding of the lives of their staff. People analytics are providing businesses with vital knowledge to help them recognise any existing issues amongst their personnel. And it’s this understanding that can help tackle the ever-growing ‘quitting economy’.

For example, by looking at their data, businesses are able to evaluate key elements affecting their workplace, such as working hours, employee happiness and commutes. Understanding an individual’s daily travel for instance could reveal that a vast majority of the workforce endures long commutes each day. As a result, leaders could make plans to introduce schemes to reflect this, such as flexible working hours and opportunities to work from home.

People analytics are also useful when considering key team members, as the data allows companies to understand their motivations and goals, and therefore foresee any issues that could result in a resignation or a change in career. A personalised approach allows businesses to cater for the individual needs of employees, and therefore improve talent retention.

Bringing people analytics into the workplace

For the modern business, standard HR methods, such as annual employee reviews, are no longer enough to assess workplace culture. To gain a ‘Google Earth’ view of the workforce, employers need to adapt their HR systems and reconsider how they utilise data science. Previously, only large scale companies were equipped with comprehensive, data-focused HR approaches. However, nowadays it’s possible to implement people analytics in any business, thanks to the development of new HR tech solutions.

HR systems are able to act as a centralised point for information, gleaning data from every department within the business to gain an extensive overview of the employees. This introduces the entire enterprise to a data-driven approach. Provided everybody in the company has had the correct training, the process of inputting all relevant information should become a force of habit and slot in easily to the daily work routine.

However, the quality of this data can’t be overlooked – companies need to ensure that this is kept to a high standard. The implementation of regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation mean that it’s more important than ever that all data entries comply with fundamental data privacy guidelines.

Boosting business

By analysing employee data, employers can align their company with their people’s needs and make intelligent, informed decisions. Meanwhile, through applying the same methods, businesses are taking steps towards becoming more efficient. This, in turn, is allowing them to retain their best talent, promote productivity and proactivity, and optimise procedures.

For example, Chevron transitioned from using a decentralised HR system to adopting a centralised, data-focused system. As a result, the company increased productivity levels by 30 percent while simultaneously lowering costs.

The ‘quitting economy’ is here to stay – and for this reason it will be difficult to overcome its impact completely. But the implementation of people analytics can arm businesses with the knowledge and comprehension they need to improve employee retention and counter its affect significantly.

Importantly, in an increasingly competitive environment, obtaining a holistic picture of the workforce is the key to finding the best and brightest people and keeping them. And having actionable data is a step in the right direction.