The Corporate Fitbit: Monitoring Your Company’s Health, Turnover, And The Employee Feedback Loop

Sophie Wade

The fitness tracker wearables market is already $4 billion strong. Clearly, wellness-related monitoring makes sense – from individuals’ personal health and fitness goals, to caregivers’ and physicians’ need to monitor out-patients, as well as insurance companies’ desire to reduce and manage costs. Isn’t a corporate ‘Fitbit’ an obvious benefit for a variety of similar reasons?

This idea is all the more logical when you consider the faster and increasingly dynamic nature of business, especially with the talent agenda at the heart of competitive strategies going forward. This is where a portion of data gathering (also known as Big Data) is simply keeping track of what is going on at your company and checking in on people. Are they coping, cruising, or actually involved in what they are doing? Are there triggers that indicate someone might be thinking of leaving?

It is not just about your internal workforce. A new study from Ardent Partners (which can be viewed in full here) on the state of the contingent workforce shows 58% of businesses are embracing on-demand and real-time talent sources as the majority rethink how enterprise work itself is accomplished. Contingent workers are becoming increasingly integrated and participating in core initiatives, so 44% of companies are looking to improve the experience of all the talent they utilize. Monitoring the temperature of the people working in or with a company then becomes a strategic imperative.

Chason Hecht is the CEO of Retensa, a company created initially to focus on identifying retention issues by diagnosing what causes the departures. Interestingly, Hecht started his career at a company where no one left, which gave him a unique perspective: Even now, turnover is not a given, especially for those people you really want to keep.

Who is typically reaching out to you from companies about turnover issues? Is it the CEO, CFO, or head of talent or HR? Are they generally looking for help with retention, or is it more about overall talent management?

Talent has been an inexplicable blind spot for most organizations until recently. There has been a certain lack of understanding or awareness about talent management. HR-related applications were, therefore, of tertiary importance after financial and six sigma software. At Retensa, we are contacted by anyone in an organization who has calculated how much it costs to lose an employee from their team. This ranges from a VP of Sales to the head of a division or branch. In fact, the CEO may be the last person we talk to! For now, the primary concern is decreasing turnover.

Retensa isn’t just focused on people leaving. How do you discover what is causing turnover at a company?

Turnover is a great indicator of the health of an organization. However, it’s obviously a symptom, not the cause. To make a diagnosis, we look at what we call the Emergent Employee Lifecycle. It is not just about any employee’s departure and the associated exit interview. We look at the sum of the moments of the employment cycle from beginning to end to monitor how each key milestone is handled – from onboarding and getting a promotion to when someone is given a major project. 

What are the results of your tracking analysis when looking at this employee feedback loop?

An employee generally starts to contemplate leaving a long time before the departure itself. Together, the critical moments of intersection give us a read on the overall employee experience and help us ascertain what aspects need to be handled differently and when. We inform the company about the elements to address and can make recommendations as to who could help them, while we continue to monitor key activities, so they will be able to track the impact of any improvements made.

Some issues may be easier to address than others. What does an organization typically do with the information?

While talent situations are becoming more urgent, there are still executives who receive the diagnosis and understand, but are simply not ready to address the issues. The rest of their company may not have the appetite or ability to tackle complex or deeply-rooted problems right away. This used to happen frequently, but more companies are now responding quickly. At the same time, it is important to recognize that trying to deal with a challenge, such as Millennial retention, will only work temporarily if a company only addresses specific prevailing circumstances. Successful talent solutions are dynamic in nature, monitored, and evolving over time.

What is your advice based on all the turnover issues you have seen over the last 15+ years?

“Whoever gets the best talent wins” is my motto. It makes sense to think about creating a culture of retention. Work out who you really want to be at your company and focus on how to retain them. Some departures are to be expected, some possibly even desired. It is very useful to monitor how everyone is doing ongoing, so you can recognize if your company’s talent management efforts are being received as they were intended.

The talent agenda is moving towards the very top of the priority list. Hecht is certainly onto something. Do you have a way to measure the pulse of your organization? What is your turnover right now, and how is it trending? Who makes up your workforce? How is its composition evolving with the needs of your business and available talent supply?

With all the changes going on in the workplace, monitoring can support your company’s smooth transition. Leading indicators can highlight potential issues, before they become problems. Big Data is about having better intelligence to inform your decisions, as they happen, not after it’s too late.