WSJ – March 14, 2013, 3:36 PM ET
Book: HP Piloted Program to Predict Which Workers Would Quit
Hewlett Packard Co. tested a predictive scoring system that attempted to grade the likelihood that individual workers would quit the company, according to a new book.
HP piloted the scoring system in 2011 aimed at lowering attrition through a better understanding of which workers were most likely to leave, according to Predictive Analytics: The Power To Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie Or Die by Eric Siegel. The analytics model, Mr. Siegel says, looked at factors such as salaries, promotions and job rotations, and scored the likelihood that particular employees would leave. HP data scientists believed a companywide implementation of the system could deliver $300 million in potential savings “related to attrition replacement and productivity,” according to a November 2011 company presentation.
Data scientists made the presentation at a Predictive Analytics World conference in London, an event series founded by Mr. Siegel, a former assistant professor of computer science at Columbia University. “The scarcest resource any company has is human resources,” Mr. Siegel said. Predictive analytics offers the possibility to “preemptively intervene” in employee attrition, and “that’s the holy grail,” Mr. Siegel said.
An analysis of which factors made employees more likely to quit yielded some surprising results: “Those employees who had been promoted more times were more likely to quit, unless a more significant pay hike had gone along with the promotion,” Mr. Siegel wrote.
The “flight risk” scores, not divulged to employees, were intended to give managers a heads up if an employee was predicted likely to leave, according to Mr. Siegel, who provided CIO Journal with emails between him and HP data scientists describing the program. To try to lower a flagged worker’s probability of quitting, managers could consider raising the employee’s salary or rotating his work assignment, Mr. Siegel said.
Mr. Siegel’s says the flight risk score was assigned to HP employees worldwide. And so far, Mr. Siegel says, scores have been used to guide management decisions in at least one company team. The current extent of the program is not known, Mr. Siegel said. HP did not respond to requests for comment.