Flight Risk

3 Dangers & 3 Upsides of Flight Risk Models

Many thought leaders and firms are talking about the magic of creating flight risk models. We know that there are upsides to flight risk models that we have with our clients, but it is important to articulate the potential dangers and, more importantly, how you can avoid these risks and improve the impact at the same time. The quick-read is below. Get the deep dive in our webinar or white paper on the topic.

The Dangers

  1. Weak Analysis: Firms are still just using cursory and correlational analysis to uncover drivers of turnover or they examine only a few people who turned over to create a ‘profile.’
  2. “Scraping” Social Media Data: This piggy-backs on the weak analysis. Firms will claim that they ‘know’ the couple of factors that drive turnover (e.g., when an employee updates their LinkedIn photo). The danger in this is not the data, but the effects on employees’ trust. Have you told your employees “We are tracking your social media activity to see if you are thinking of leaving our organization?” More generally, are you letting your employees know that you are doing flight risk modeling at all—even if it is only with internal data? Are you willing to tell your employees this?
  3. Manager Reaction: If you are allowing front-line managers to see flight risk information on individual employees, they can react in different ways and, unfortunately, these reactions might be inappropriate. For example:
    1. A manager may get angry at an employee for being a flight risk and take him/her off of the high potential list or pull him/her out of developmental programs.
    2. A manager may begin to treat the employee more negatively because they feel betrayed by the employee for being a potential flight risk.
    3. A manager may be unnecessarily generous to an employee and give raises or make immediate promises to a quality employee who might be a potential flight risk.

In addition to these dangers, oftentimes flight risk models end up being information that is examined by a few leaders or just by HR and no real action comes from them (analysis paralysis).

The Upsides (How to Reap Value!)

  1. Conduct Proper Analytics: Make sure that the analytics approach that you take delivers credible output. Relying on correlations won’t cut it. Logistic regression, random forest, decision trees, and other more rigorous methods will make sure that the key drivers will truly impact turnover.
  2. Show Dollar Impact: Leaders want to see the impact of a flight risk model. The stats may be interesting but understanding not only the cost of turnover, but also the downstream impact of turnover (how much turnover is directly impacting sales, customer satisfaction etc.) will drive action from the flight risk model.
  3. Create Action: This is where most flight risk models come apart. They are overanalyzed and agonized over, but then nothing happens. Based on the findings, several actions can be taken. A great first step is conducting stay interviews within groups with high flight-risk. Stay interviews are a retention tool in which a manager conducts a one-on-one interview with employees in these high-risk areas to uncover what he or she does and doesn’t like that may lead to turnover. Additional follow-up actions in high flight-risk areas include:
  • Online Training: Conduct training for leaders focused on factors that have been linked to flight risk. For example, if teamwork and career development were found to impact turnover, online training modules can provide learning and action lessons to drive behavioral change.
  • 360 Leader Assessments: For leaders of areas of high risk, launch 360 assessments that focus on competencies and skills to mitigate turnover and provide a better experience to their employees.
  • Pulse SurveysUse these to gauge employee experiences linked to turnover to drive action planning as well as to check in on the progress of action plans that are currently in place.
  • Hiring Process: Evaluate the hiring process to examine if new hires are good “fits” for the organization. Make sure you have the proper structure and rigor in the process (e.g., behavioral-based interviews, role plays, fit assessments, cognitive ability assessments). Stop turnover before it starts.
  • Onboarding and Quality of Hire Surveys: Measure and connect the new hire experience to early turnover and flight risk. Turnover is typically focused within the first year, so improving the initial experience with the organization and identifying hires who need additional attention is key.

flight risk model triggers

The flight risk model should trigger these actions.

FINAL TIP: get clarity from the very beginning of your flight risk project of WHO will see the data (HR only? All leaders?). There are pros and cons to every approach, as noted above. Read more of our thoughts in our article in HR Daily Advisor or in this article from SHRM.