A US based non-profit with approximately 200 employees was struggling with high employee turnover. Over the last three years, the annual employee turnover had been 35-40%. The organization had a hypothesis that their high employee turnover was related to how well connected the employees were with their colleagues. To find out, they decided to conduct an Organizational Network Analysis to answer the question:
“what is the relationship between connectivity and flight risk?”
This question was answered through two steps:
The first step was to look at context-specific connectivity between people. Several different networks were mapped and two of them stood out as crucial to employee retention. It was evident that 1) the employees who resigned voluntarily were less integrated in the network of daily task assistance and 2) the employees who resigned voluntarily had significantly fewer friends in the organization.
The second step was about pairing this knowledge with data on tenure. This combination of data revealed that the crucial period is the first year in the organization. Evidence showed that 2/3 of the leavers left within their first year.
To reduce employee flight risk, the focus needed to be on getting newcomers connected with their new colleagues as soon as possible. This was done through three key activities:
- Allocate well-connected employees as mentors to newcomers as part of their onboarding program
- Co-create with key people across the organization on how to facilitate building of friendships across so the newcomers do not feel just as an ‘extra pair of hands’
- Connect high potentials to leadership for career development to increase the chance of retaining them