What If The Great Resignation Isn’t?

in business, Data, Featured, Uncategorized

There’s endless talk in HR circles about the Great Resignation. A report by McKinsey & Company, for example, sounds the alarm because “more than 15 million US workers—and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021, a record pace disrupting businesses everywhere.”

The McKinsey report is fascinating for its survey findings comparing why employees say they leave to why employers believe they leave, with some stark distinctions.

But the report, and just about all of the endless accounts about an employee exodus, falls short by failing to provide context for the so-called exodus. Specifically, they ignore the fact that quit rates plummeted in the Spring of 2020. McKinsey blares, “The Great Attrition is happening—and will probably continue.”

But is it? And will it?

Here’s a graph of quit rates — number of quits as a percent of total employment — from 2011 through July of 2021 (The blue line is turnover; the dotted line is a trend line for the entire period.):

Quit Rates 2011-2021

US Quit Rates (and trend) as % of total employment, 2011-through July 2021.

Pent-Up Attrition?

“Quits are voluntary separations initiated by the employee,” BLS explains. “Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs.”

It sure looks like the current rate of resignation is fairly close to trend. In fact, the quit rate for July 2021 was unchanged from the previous month, and the last three months were all lower than April 2021. The data suggests that some of what’s being called The Great Resignation is actually pent-up attrition. We may — may — just be on the tail end of a dip.

When we hear “15 million workers have quit their jobs since April 2021,” we should question whether April 2021 is the proper baseline. This shouldn’t diminish some of the dynamics currently taking place in the labor force, but at least suggests that it may be quite a while before we really know — based on data — what those dynamics are.

Non-Denominational: COVID Study Screws Up Mortality Data. Media Follows Suit.

in Data, Uncategorized

Fraction with x numerator and y denominator
A headline in the Washington Post (April 26, 2020), based on the researchers’ conclusions at the time, blared, “In New York’s largest hospital system, 88% of coronavirus patients on ventilators didn’t make it.” (As of April 25, the headline wasn’t corrected. By May 5, it had been changed to read “…many patients on ventilators didn’t make it.”)

The ventilator mortality rate excluded from the denominator patients still in the hospital.

After an immediate outcry from others in the medical community, the research paper was corrected in JAMA online:

“The sentence reporting mortality for patients receiving mechanical ventilation should read, ‘As of April 4, 2020, for patients requiring mechanical ventilation (n = 1151, 20.2%), 38 (3.3%) were discharged alive, 282 (24.5%) died, and 831 (72.2%) remained in hospital.'”

This is one example  —  the coronavirus pandemic has provided many  —  of the importance of proper denominators.Denominators often are not scrutinized closely enough by journalists, by businesses, or by wellness professionals. The gross oversight described here reminds us that, without any background in statistics or data science, denominators used in calculations  —  when, indeed, they are used  —  are one reasonable starting point (population size is another) when interpreting data.

Hire Based on Facts, Not Feels

in Data, industrial organizational psychology, Uncategorized

a heart, symbolizing the error of hiring job candidates based on subjective observations and feelingsIs it enough for a job candidate to “show up” for an interview?

A prominent voice on LinkedIn recently garnered more than 17,000 likes with a post that read, in part:

We just hired a Gen-Z candidate with zero experience. Here’s why… They arrived 10 min early for their morning interview (respect ✊), pronounced my name correctly (major kudos), had a firm handshake, dressed sharp, and brought a hard copy of their resume (I didn’t need it). During the interview they smiled, made eye contact, and were honest about having zero experience (we value honesty). They asked me questions, they wanted to learn, they showed up! To all the hiring decision makers out there, don’t disqualify candidates because they don’t have “experience.”

By all means, don’t discriminate against Gen-Z or any other Gen, or against candidates who don’t have experience if the job doesn’t require it. But be smart about hiring, based on Continue reading »

Don’t Get Left Behind By People Analytics

in Data

Employers are getting serious about HR Analytics (aka People Analytics). At the same time, many of our wellness industry colleagues demonize data, often cloaking their anxieties behind advocacy of humanization

We’ll hear wellness leaders denigrate data because, for example, “it reduces people to numbers” (which could be the slogan for the International Society of Dataphobes).

But if we let our fears, insecurities, or aversions get the better of us, resisting data as a primary language of business, we’ll get left behind in a world where employers, even their HR departments, increasingly see the promise of analytics. Continue reading »