PricewaterhouseCoopers is a Big Four Accounting firm that was facing high turnover in a key employee segment—senior associates. This is the second stage in a career ladder that starts at the entry level and ends when one becomes a partner in the firm. One possible solution was thought to be deferred compensation, or delaying the salary of some employees so that those who stayed longer would receive more than those who left earlier.
The firm could also see that those who stayed longer before they left, were more successful in their careers (such as becoming CFO somewhere else). Would deferred compensation keep people there longer? Would people be convinced to stay longer if they knew it was good for their careers?
A survey collected data from current and former employees who had left. This required finding former employees who had had a relationship with PwC and appealing to their ongoing goodwill toward the firm to get them to respond. The final sample focused on those former employees who had left the firm more recently (in the last 15 years rather than those who had left earlier than 15 years or more). Their response rates were better because they remembered their experiences at the firm better than the group that had left before them. The study specifically looked at career outcomes of those who had left, comparison of work-life balance between current employees and those who had left, and drivers of retention for current employees.
The findings and the actions taken by the firm to deal with what they found had clear and positive impact on the problem. The study showed that adding deferred compensation would have had a very small impact on people’s willingness to stay. However, work-life balance (avoiding problems of work obligation negatively affecting things at home) and career development/career progression issues did have a large influence on the problem of people leaving. Work-life balance solutions are frequently manifested as more flexible work schedules, flexible time off, and even child care and elder care to help the employee manage both work and family obligations better.
The actions the firm took reduced voluntary turnover to the goals it had set. One such action was to provide new tools for managers and Human Resources to deal with the workload balance issues that existed. Another successful action was to strengthen the relationship between partners and the associates. Finally, the company focused on coaching and development including training for the partners in these areas. The analytics study showed that the initially offering defined compensation that was not going to solve the problem, but problems flying below management’s radar were causing the high turnover. Management was therefore able to solve the true cause of turnover.
Research the topic of HR analytics and other companies who have used it.
-As an HR manager, how would you present to your company the case for using analytics in an old-line HR department?
-What resources could an HR professional consult to begin building expertise in this area of analytics?
-How can HR analytics help to improve an organization’s overall performance?
-Why don’t more companies use analytics to solve HR problems?
-How can HR analytics help with strategic planning relating to HR management?