Predictive analytics – a ‘game changer’ for HR

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What is the cost of losing an employee? If you’re asking this question, you’re not alone.

There is a really good reason to worry about this particular question – from the perspectives of both top management, HR and management. First, it is crucial for the financial health of companies to be able to attract and retain talent.

Several substantial surveys such as MIT’s newest ‘Toxic Culture Is Driving The Great Resignation’ reveal that currently more than 40% of all employees are contemplating leaving their job. Between April and September 2021, 24 million Americans left their job under the so called – ‘The Great Resignation’ – a phenomenon which has also started to reach Danish companies.


Losing an employee results in financial and operational consequences

Losing an employee comes with consequences for the workplace – both financially, culturally, socially and therefore for the entire work environment. The largest direct financial costs can be traced to the loss of production, recruitment and training of new staff in order to cover the human loss. Still, it is difficult to ascertain the exact loss. But some studies point out that every time a workplace loses a full-time employee, the cost is an average of 50% of the employee’s annual salary. However, this is merely the directly measurable costs. If you count the indirect costs in the form of lost production, cooperation difficulties and similar issues, the picture appears much scarier!


Having worked as HR Director for many years, I can say that, in HR, we know that losing an employee isn’t only about the money! Losing a great talent cannot only be traced in an Excel sheet, but has substantial consequences for the unity of the team in terms of cooperation, broken friendships and a psychologically bad work environment.


The most important metric for HR: employee turnover rate

In this connection, one metric speaks its own clear language when we want to know about employees’ well-being; the employee turnover rate – or simply: How many employees leave the company, and how quickly do they leave?

The most crucial metric for HR. Because it is costly to lose one’s employees. No question about it.

The employee turnover rate – or in other words attrition rate – of course varies from industry to industry. After The Great Resignation we call them the blue-collar and white-collar sector. Blue collar industries are some of the hardest industries to retain employees – retail, fast food and apparel. Where fx management consulting has one of the highest attrition rates.
However there is rarely a focus on what could be done to lose fewer employees. Even in companies with an employee churn in excess of 25%, information like this does not give rise to making a special effort.

And why is that? There are often two reasons.

One is that it doesn’t hurt enough.

The company and its employees manage to compensate for the large employee turn-over rate and reach their goals nonetheless.
It is off, all right, but not sufficiently off.


Another reason is that something inadvertently happens when you dive into the numbers. The focus of the discussion then shifts from a number reflecting a problem for the whole company to the individual employee.

”Hanne left, yes. But she had worked here for a long time…”

”So Peter left. But maybe it was time for him to try his hand at something new…”

”Well, Jakob left. He wasn’t exactly cut out for the job…”

The logic I have often witnessed is that it does not make sense to make company-related initiatives because the problem is the individual employee – not the company culture.



But from my perspective, unwanted staff departure may be first and foremost an overlooked and expensive problem.
Luckily companies have an opportunity to measure the root causes of their employee turnover rates and forecast their top predictors before it happens. Let’s take a closer look.


How to make the change

And what does it take to change this individual and reactive approach? This is my suggestion: Take action in tree areas.

Use the employee engagement pulse surveys to measure the root causes of employee turnover rates

Find a digital system that can translate employee feedback into a forecast of your top predictors of employee turnover

Translate the results into action as fast as possible

This applies regardless of whether we are talking about the mandatory health and safety risk assessment, the employee engagement survey or the leadership evaluation. It is important to find a digital solution which doesn’t merely deliver data, but also gives you an idea of what the data means, and what actions you can take to proactively prevent loss of key employees. If you receive data only, much too often the result is talk and good intentions, without any real action or change.


A preventive effort throughout the company

It is also important not to play with closed cards within a narrow group consisting of HR and the company’s top management when it comes to data and insights from the measurements. If HR wants to create real change, the results must be put to work in all the company layers.

For these reasons, the best solutions go one step further and offer some good advice and recommendations as to how you may work with the work environment and employee engagement on the basis of the feedback from the surveys.

And the action plans must be implemented in all layers of the company – at the level of the employees, the teams, the management and the top management – so that you may work with prevention as a joint effort for the whole company.


Need help working proactively with employee feedback and data?


Predictive analytics – tomorrow’s HR

The few – but grey – hairs on my head may reveal that I have worked in the HR business for an unsaid number of years now. And, until recently, we have primarily worked reactively with our employee feedback.

Typically, the process has been like this:
Problems arise…..We collect feedback and discover the problems over several months.…We then correct the problems (mostly).
Our HR method has therefore been to look back at the data and feedback from various employee engagement surveys. In other words, we have had our backs against the future.

But what if we could look forward, having a sneak peek into the future – and predict employee turnover that hasn’t happened yet?

We can actually do this today using the ‘predictive people analytics’.


Predict and prevent employee turnover

As the name suggests, ’predictive analytics’ uses machine learning to predict the development and future results with the help of historic data. This gives HR and managers a real possibility of looking into the future where they can identify risks and prevent problems that haven’t happened yet – but will happen if we sit on our hands. The companies are simply given the ability to foresee potential problems and the loss of key employees before these problems arise.

And if you want to reach the very premier league of HR, there is no way around this.

’Predictive analytics’ is a big deal in HR data. And the possibility of putting it to work isn’t just a distant dream anymore, but the new reality that has come to stay.

In just five years, the number of HR professionals skilled at data analytics has risen 242% (LinkedIn 2020 Global Talent Trends).

And I am certain that ‘predictive people analytics’ will become a significant game changer for the whole of the HR industry, which will transform the way in which we work with employee turnover and attrition rates in HR.


Data-driven decision-making in HR

A game changer in the sense that it will enable HR to quantify the effects of their efforts! HR will find themselves able to deliver quantifiable financial gains from their employee engagement strategies with a whole new level of precision and speed than previously seen.

If HR succeeds in making this paradigmshift, companies will not only save an unimaginable amount of money – but will also save an incomprehensible number of people from losing their ability to work.
And that change is worth fighting for!

If you wish to learn more about the possibility of implementing ‘predictive people analytics’ with Woba, please contact me.

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Employee Engagement Surveys
Transform the Employee Engagement Survey into actionable insights

Employee engagement surveys are a critical HR tool, designed to unlock your organization’s potential. They gauge employee well-being, drive talent retention, boost productivity, and support continuous HR improvement.

Much like conducting scientific research, the journey of knowledge and business intelligence within the realm of human resources starts with simple questions. These questions can vary widely. They’re born from curiosity, assumptions, and a desire to understand the intricacies of your organization’s people. The key is to focus on what’s essential, practical, and relevant to your unique organization.


In this article, the specific type of question you aim to answer with robust evidence is not the primary focus. Instead, the emphasis lies on the approach and methods you employ to design and collect data for your employee engagement survey in the most effective manner possible.


From gut feelings to a data-driven approach in Employee Engagement Surveys

We will show you how to shift from relying on your gut feelings to using a more solid, scientific, and data-driven approach in your employee engagement surveys. This change will help you improve your HR-business intelligence, make decisions and recommendations based on real evidence, and implement effective programs and initiatives where they matter most – for both your people and the organization as a whole.


The success of your organization depends on your role as an HR architect, and we’re here to support you. So, get ready to learn more about creating and conducting a quantitative staff engagement survey.


What is an Employee Engagement Survey?

An employee engagement survey serves as a valuable tool for gauging the sentiments of your workforce concerning their overall work-life experience. These surveys, usually in the form of questionnaires, are tailored to capture employees’ thoughts, feedback, and perceptions related to their work environment and their overall experiences within the organization.

In HR, you’re tasked with answering essential questions, such as:

  • How engaged are our employees?
  • Are they more engaged than last year?
  • Does the level of engagement vary across employee segments?
  • What’s our turnover rate, and how can we reduce it?
  • To what extent do they feel included in the workplace, and how can we empower this sense of inclusion?
  • How do they perceive their current job resources?
  • Do we know enough about employees’ viewpoints when designing programs and initiatives to enhance their psychological safety?


The insights derived from these surveys are a treasure trove for HR professionals. They provide a deeper understanding of the workforce’s engagement levels and well-being, ultimately leading to a more motivated and productive team. These surveys play a vital role in ensuring that the organization can adapt to change and sustain a people-centric approach, where employee satisfaction and commitment are at the forefront of HR strategies.

To fully comprehend the importance of employee engagement in HR, we suggest you read our article Employee Engagement – Definition, Relevance & Strategy.


Designing your Employee Engagement Survey questions: Close-ended questions, open-ended questions or a mix of the two?

Creating a good employee engagement survey requires thorough preparation, and it’s always crucial to have a clear problem statement. When the survey is based on interviews or questionnaires, a well-defined problem statement serves as the foundation for subsequently formulating clear questions. But how do you formulate effective questions for a survey?

When conducting employee engagement surveys, one of the many decisions you have to make is the inclusion of different types of questions. In quantitative research designs, we typically have the option to design our research around:

  • Close-ended questions: offer respondents a limited set of predefined answer options, making them a common choice for surveys aiming to gather quantitative data.
  • Multiple choice questions: provide respondents with answer choices, such as age groups or preferences, where they select the most appropriate option.
  • Simple binary (e.g yes, no) questions: Can help ascertain binary responses, such as whether an individual received adequate training.
  • Ordinal scaled (e.g. likert scaled) questions and open-ended questions: gauge satisfaction levels on a scale, usually ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”


Such structured questions are valuable in obtaining clear, structured data, facilitating analysis and comparison, and are often employed to assess demographics, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors.


Open-Ended Questions vs. Closed-Ended Questions in an Employee Engagement Survey

Open-ended questions in an employee engagement survey differ from their closed-ended counterparts as they invite respondents to provide detailed, free-text responses. These questions encourage respondents to share their thoughts, feelings, and suggestions in their own words.

For instance, an open-ended question might ask employees to describe their biggest challenges at work or provide suggestions for improving the workplace. These responses are valuable for uncovering nuanced insights, identifying unexpected issues, and gaining a deeper understanding of the employee experience. They offer context to the quantitative data gathered from closed-ended questions and help interpret the “why” behind the numbers, making them an essential part of a comprehensive employee engagement survey.


You need to consider whether it’s most appropriate to use closed-ended questions or open-ended questions in employee engagement surveys for several reasons:


Benefits of using close-ended questions:

  • Provide structured and quantifiable data. They are ideal for measuring specific aspects of employee engagement, such as satisfaction with company policies, benefits, or job tasks. This structured format allows for easy comparison and analysis.
  • Ensure consistency in the response format, making it easier to analyze the data and identify trends over time. This is important when conducting surveys at regular intervals to track changes in employee engagement.
    Are quicker for respondents to answer, making the survey process more efficient. This can lead to higher response rates and more complete data.
  • They use Likert scales, which are commonly used in employee engagement surveys. This allows for benchmarking against industry standards and other organizations.
  • Allow for more objective data analysis, as responses are standardized and do not rely on the subjective interpretation of open-ended responses.


Benefits of using open-ended questions:

  • Allow employees to provide detailed, nuanced feedback. This can uncover issues or suggestions that might not be captured with closed-ended questions.
  • Employees feel heard and valued when they can express their thoughts in their own words. This can boost their engagement and satisfaction with the survey process.
  • Can reveal unexpected issues or opportunities that you may not have anticipated. They can provide insight into the “why” behind quantitative data.
  • Offer better contextual understanding than closed-ended data. They help interpret the quantitative findings and provide a richer understanding of the employee experience.



Employee Engagement Blog
Employee Engagement - Definition, Relevance & Strategy

We explore the employee engagement framework, including what employee engagement is and how to measure and improve it effectively in your company.


What is Employee Engagement?

An employee engagement definition, in short, refers to the emotional commitment and level of enthusiasm that employees have toward their jobs and their organization. However, this might be an oversimplification. Employee engagement is a multifaceted concept that goes beyond initial impressions.

But, much like the transformation of a simple acorn into a sprawling oak tree, the concept of employee engagement has undergone a remarkable evolution since its early days in the 1990s. It has grown to become not only an academic discipline but a pivotal operational practice in the realm of organizational human resource management.


As it gained widespread recognition, the concept of employee engagement, akin to the branches of an oak, has taken on a multitude of diverse forms and shapes. However, there is a significant departure from the analogy of the oak tree. Unlike the tree’s natural evolution, the concept of employee engagement isn’t meant to outgrow its origins.

With the burgeoning popularity of this field, we witness an unintended consequence—an increase in inconsistency and confusion regarding the application of employee engagement as a means to study well-being within modern organizations.


The very essence of employee engagement becomes obscured in the midst of this transformation, leaving us to grapple with the challenge of aligning its core principles with its expanding interpretations. However, we don’t need a multitude of complex definitions or branches when it comes to employee engagement. What we truly need is clarity. We need to ensure that an evidence-based approach, rooted in decades of well-established research, is easily accessible. Furthermore, we need to bridge the gap between the scientific realm and the practical applications of employee engagement in HR.


This article aims to help you better understand some challenging questions:
What is employee engagement and how can we create a simple way to measure employee engagement effectively?


The Employee Engagement Framework

While simple answers to these intricate questions may remain elusive, our objective is to contribute to the ongoing effort to comprehend employee engagement. We aim to do this by retracing the concept to its origins and provide a systematic overview of how it has been operationalized by different scholars and researchers over the past decades. This, in turn, should pave the way for a more concise framework for proactively, strategically, and operationally addressing employee engagement as a means to nurture happier employees, more effective teams, and enhanced organizational outcomes.


We will delve into some of the most validated constructs and definitions of employee engagement that the academic research field has to offer. This is in pursuit of setting a benchmark by replicating sound, evidence-based approaches and standards from the world of science.

Once we’ve clarified the definitions and constructs, we’ll shift our focus to the practical dimension. Here, we’ll inspire you to implement measurement scales that effectively capture the various facets of employee work engagement while ensuring validity and reliability.

Finally, we’ll wrap it up with insights on how to cultivate and enhance engagement within your organization, enabling you to harness the myriad benefits of high employee engagement.


Why is a clear(er) definition of employee engagement important?

To effectively study and understand any phenomenon, we require clear and unified approaches to grasp that specific subject. In the realm of Human Resources (HR), a precise definition becomes crucial due to variations in understanding among different consultancy branches, HR departments, and top-level executives.

The confusion often arises from whether employee engagement equates to elements like job satisfaction, commitment, or motivation. And when it comes to satisfaction, employee engagement and satisfaction are evidently not the same psychological construct, so merging them in one measure can simply be counterproductive.

But this conceptual ambiguity not only introduces imprecision, but also leads to a view of criticism, with some dismissing employee engagement as a mere rebranding or a superficial trend in HR.


However, employee engagement is not merely another superficial HR concept. The view has led some to argue that ‘the concept of employee engagement needs to be more clearly defined … or it needs to be abandoned’. Skeptics have long argued that the term ‘engagement’ is likely to fall out of usage at some point because it lacks substance or distinctiveness. As well as being challenged for a lack of clear definition, it is also seen to be a relabelling of existing constructs, and thus redundant.

Unfortunately, this criticism sometimes overshadows the importance of employee engagement in thriving organizations, where the neglect of it is more evident than proactive efforts to improve it.


Challenges with composite engagement measures

We stand with CIPD in the discussion on and well-argumented criticsm about how consultancy and management practices often creates more “old wine in new bottles”, “fads and fashions” or “been there, bottled that” – see their discussion report from January 2021.

Because a number of consultancy firms have developed (their “own one-point-of-questionable-truth”) composite measures of engagement along these lines. Gallup’s Q12 is just one example of a tool widely used by consultants and practitioners, but it doesn’t always meet the standards of academic research. Some scholars have raised concerns about its validity and consider it a composite measure lacking in scientific rigor.

When developing a reliable measure, it’s not enough to group survey items together and give them a name. Validation is key. The measure should be tested against similar and different constructs to show it behaves as expected in theory. To put it simply, merging various measures into a single score doesn’t work like magic. It results in a confusing mix of metrics, making it hard to interpret the data.


For instance, when an organization wants to gauge employee engagement, it might involve many aspects such as alignment with company goals, using one’s strengths, satisfaction with pay, and relationships with managers. Combining all of these into one score makes it difficult to understand what’s driving differences or improvements. This could very well be the reason why Bailey et al. (2015), in a systematic study review, chose to exclude studies relying on the Q12 due to concerns that it serves as a broad, all-encompassing measure lacking in validity.

Advocates of composite measures might argue that you can break them down, but this can lead to a loose collection of measures that may not provide clear insights. While it’s understandable that employers are interested in various aspects of employee experiences, it’s crucial for measures to be precise and focused. Often, it’s more effective to consider these aspects individually – especially if you wish to investigate the relationship between engagement and relevant independent variables in a regression analysis (which, essentially, requires the dependent variable to be measured!).


The need for clarity

So. Why was a clear definition and understandable conceptualization important again? Because creating a work environment where employee engagement thrives is crucial for organizations, as it leads to positive outcomes like lower turnover, reduced absenteeism, higher job satisfaction, increased efficiency, and productivity.


To become more data-driven and implement progressive HR initiatives, research consistently emphasizes the significance of employee engagement. It all starts with defining the core concept and how it has evolved over the years in various evidence-based interpretations explored in applied research.

And hence, we move forward to where we position ourselves, when we assist, consult, advocate and what-not our clients about employee engagement. A definition. A clear one that’s scientifically grounded.


Survey Fatique 1300x700
Employee Survey Fatigue - How to ensure better response rates

In recent years, our exposure to quantitative employee surveys have increased – which also applies to the organizational field of research. The rise in digital survey platforms and easier distribution methods has led to more frequent workplace survey invitations, but it’s also caused a drop in the response rate.


This leads to Survey Fatigue:

When respondents lose interest in your surveys because of the overwhelming frequency of survey requests or the extensive effort and questions involved in completing them.


This, in turn, can create unfortunate barriers to the validity and representativeness of your engagement surveys in general. As employee engagement surveys gain increasing popularity, the quest for high response rates and valuable insights presents growing challenges. Organizations seek to assess their employees’ work life, but these hurdles cannot be ignored.

In this article, we’ll unveil the concept of survey fatigue and provide strategies to combat this silent adversary of quantitative research designs.


What are the main risks about Survey Fatigue?

When it comes to employee engagement surveys, there are a couple of key issues related to survey fatigue that you should be aware of.

  • First, you might run into a problem of nonresponse. This means that some employees may not participate, which can affect the accuracy of your insights and your ability to make general conclusions.
  • Second, you could end up with data that’s not entirely reliable because tired participants might hurry through the survey, giving quick answers without really paying attention to the questions.


The factors contributing to declining response rates

There are several factors contributing to declining response rates.

Firstly, there’s a proliferation of surveys, as more and more companies and organizations use them to gather opinions. This, along with the growing number of survey service providers and an increasing interest in data-driven decision-making, is causing what we call survey fatigue.

Another important point is that people who don’t respond to surveys are often more likely to contemplate leaving their jobs and generally report lower job satisfaction and less contentment with their supervisors compared to those who do respond.

What this means is that if a company’s HR department doesn’t receive feedback from these dissatisfied individuals, the data they collect may not accurately represent the reality. It could provide a more positive but inaccurate picture of the situation.


Lack of communication and followed actions from surveys triggers fatigue!

A research review performed by McKinsey showed that the number one driver of survey fatigue among participants is when they believe the organization won’t take any action based on the survey results.

On the flip side, when organizations not only run employee engagement surveys but also actively share relevant information and take appropriate actions based on the feedback, it encourages more employees to take part in current and future surveys.

Clearly, the crucial takeaway here is that employee surveys should be seen as a tool for making meaningful improvements, not just a metric by itself.


Mads Kamp
Strategist, CEO, founder, board member in Woba

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