Imagine that you’re looking at your company-issued smartphone and you notice an e-mail from LinkedIn: “These companies are looking for candidates like you!” You aren’t necessarily searching for a job, but you’re always open to opportunities, so out of curiosity, you click on the link. A few minutes later your boss appears at your desk. “We’ve noticed that you’re spending more time on LinkedIn lately, so I wanted to talk with you about your career and whether you’re happy here,” she says. Uh-oh.

It’s an awkward and Big Brother–ish scenario—and it’s not so far-fetched. Attrition has always been expensive for companies, but in many industries the cost of losing good workers is rising, owing to tight labor markets and the increasingly collaborative nature of jobs. Thus companies are intensifying their efforts to predict which workers are at high risk of leaving so that managers can try to stop them. Tactics range from garden-variety electronic surveillance to sophisticated analyses of employees’ social media lives.

Some of this analytical work is generating fresh insights about what impels employees to quit. In general, people leave their jobs because they don’t like their boss, don’t see opportunities for promotion or growth, or are offered a better gig (and often higher pay); these reasons have held steady for years.

New research conducted by CEB, a Washington-based best-practice insight and technology company, looks not just at why workers quit but also at when. “We’ve learned that what really affects people is their sense of how they’re doing compared with other people in their peer group, or with where they thought they would be at a certain point in life,” says Brian Kropp, who heads CEB’s HR practice. “We’ve learned to focus on moments that allow people to make these comparisons.”
CEB公司,是一家总部在华盛顿的最务实的技术公司,最近开展了一项调查研究,不仅调查了员工为何辞职,还调查了员工何时离职。“我们了解到了,影响人们辞职的因素在于,他们如何看待与其他同事的比较,或者他们预测自己应该达到生命的某一个时间节点。”CEB 人力资源实践项目的指挥官Brian Kropp表示。“我们已经了解到那些让人们做比较的时刻了。”

Some of the discoveries are unsurprising. Work anniversaries (whether of joining the company or of moving into one’s current role) are natural times for reflection, and job-hunting activity jumps by 6% and 9%, respectively, at those points. But other data reveals factors that have nothing directly to do with work. Kropp says, “The big realization is that it’s not just what happens at work—it’s what happens in someone’s personal life that determines when he or she decides to look for a new job.”

Technology also provides clues about which star employees might be eyeing the exit. Companies can tell whether employees using work computers or phones are spending time on (or even just opening unsolicited e-mails from) career websites, and research shows that more firms are paying attention to these things. Large companies have also begun tracking badge swipes—employees’ use of an ID to enter and exit the building or the parking garage—to identify patterns that suggest a worker may be interviewing for a job.

Lori Hock, the CEO of Hudson Americas, a recruitment process outsourcing company that uses Joberate, values predictive intelligence because it helps her reduce clients’ attrition—and spot things that may be driving it. “Is it a bad manager?” she says. “Is there a training component? Are we undervaluing certain positions? It gives you a nice opportunity to think about what the trigger might have been—and to ask questions before you lose talent.”
Lori Hock是美洲哈德逊公司的总裁,她的公司使用Joberate网站作为外包的主要招聘平台,非常重视智能预测。因为它能缓解客户流失的损害,还能检测造成客户流失的原因。“这是一位糟糕的经理吗?”她说,“是否存在培训竞争的对手?我们是否低估了某些职位?这样能给你很好的机会来思考那些促使客户损失的因素,还能在你流失人才之前提出问题。”

Researchers agree that preemptive intervention is a better way to deal with employees’ wandering eyes than waiting for someone to get an offer and then making a counteroffer. CEB’s data shows that 50% of employees who accept a counteroffer leave within 12 months. “It’s almost like when you’re in a relationship and you’ve decided you want to break up, but your partner does something that makes you stick around a little longer,” Kropp says. “Employees who accept a counteroffer are most likely going to quit at some point very soon.”