And it is quite terrifying.
It’s Friday afternoon and one of your employees asks for a private meeting. Before you even close the door, she tells you she’s found another job and is leaving the company.
How will you respond? Who will cover her responsibilities? What is the impact on the rest of the team?
These questions torment you as you wish you had known her intention earlier to be better prepared.
Resignations represent one of the most emotional, stressful and challenging situations leaders face. They undermine confidence in ourselves, our leadership and our organizations. They threaten the status quo. And they have the potential to compromise team dynamics and business results.
And perhaps the biggest problem with resignations is that they are supposedly unpredictable. There is no way any manager can predict with some degree of accuracy when an employee will quit.
Now things will change with AI.
IBM has created a new AI system which can predict with 95% accuracy which workers are about to quit their jobs. It is called the “predictive attrition program” which was developed with Watson to predict employee flight risk and prescribe actions for managers to engage employees.
“It took time to convince company management it was accurate,” IBM CEO Gini Rometty said, but the AI has so far saved IBM nearly $300 million in retention costs, she claimed.
Further, Rometty says that the AI system can zero in on an individual’s strengths. In turn, this can enable a manager to direct an employee to future opportunities they may not have seen using traditional methods. This will also help employees to develop skills for the future and prevent getting redundant.
All this is wonderful. But a pertinent question still remains unanswered.
Why do we need to run a sophisticated prediction analysis program on our own employees to gauge which ones are going to leave?
We are all humans after all. Do we need a machine to find out if we are unhappy?
The short answer is No. While AI will give the numbers and dates, it can never to be a one-stop solution to address the inherent problem of an employee quitting the organization. In fact, it can aggravate the problem.
And here are my reasons for it.
You don’t need AI to Spy on Employees
Do you understand the reasons why employees quit your company? You should.
If you know why they leave, you’ll know what needs to be fixed to prevent it from happening in the future.
There are a number of common reasons people quit their jobs. The first has to do with their boss or direct manager. As you’ve heard many times before, people don’t just quit a job, they quit their boss.
Beyond this, there are a number of other specific reasons people leave.
· Employees are not recognized for their contribution.
· Lack of communication
· No growth opportunities
· Bias or favoritism
· Not Mentally Challenged
So as you can see, all the above issues are glaringly visible issues which do not need any system to be brought in the forefront.
Too often, we insist employees check every single rung on the skills ladder. We wrongly believe that the only way for them to advance in their career is to be good at everything all the time.
But the truth is that you rarely find a candidate that matches 100% of your hiring criteria. This is a utopian dream which can never be realized.
Instead, give your highest performers a chance to continue to excel at their strengths, and the tools they need to become an expert in their field. And If they find themselves getting bored, then you can work with them to find other skills they’d like to improve upon.
The key is keeping them engaged. Don’t let them be the one in five who report to you. Make them feel special and valued and it does not require a system to do that.
HR will become a Replacement Shop
Professional employees are an asset to every company. Those people make your business flourish by carrying out high-quality work.
However, as more and more opportunities arise in the job market, it’s become easy to have your best employee lured away by competitors. Keeping good employees from leaving the company is simple when you have a flexible mindset and know how to manage the working process of your company effectively.
And one of the prime responsibilities of the HR department is to create a high performing congenial workplace which values employees and keeps them motivated. In a nutshell, employee welfare.
Now, what will happen if HR finds out that, an employee is going to leave? What will be the first reaction to getting that crucial information?
Find a replacement immediately.
HR will thus be in the permanent replacement mode and would devote all its energies in finding replacements and dousing the fire rather than doing something meaningful to address the reasons for attrition. Retention planning will be replaced by replacement planning.
In addition to this, the information gleaned from AI will promote tyranny.
If he is leaving, why should I promote him?
He is leaving anyway, why train him?
No promotion for him. He is not loyal.
Ethical questions and loyalty will assume center stage and the worth of an employee would be measured by his tenure rather than his performance in the organization. These are dangerous waters to be in.
And Lastly, it will Stifle Creativity.
Would you be creative if you are being watched?
Any AI system needs data and in this case, data would mostly come from doing things like scanning employee emails and other communications, tracking their attendance, attitudes, and behavior, watching their social-media feeds, etc.
And any employee under constant surveillance can never be creative. It goes against the very grain of human behavior.
And in such a repressive atmosphere an employee just does “enough” to survive and carry on the charade till he is able to get a better job without being caught doing on in the act. There is no creativity only pure survival.
Creative minds need other creative minds in order to thrive. They need other people to support and even enhance their creativity. That will greatly improve their productivity. Creativity needs to be nurtured. Rarely do creative minds work alone.
If you want your employees to give the job their best, then create a working environment that both encourages and nurtures their creativity. Utilize an employee’s skill set and encourage them to go beyond what’s expected. It’s easier than you think, look for potential in staff and call it out, give staff opportunities to go beyond their titles. Assert that failure is a learning process and encourage the journey.
And Lastly, involve them, ask your staff for solutions, opinions, and ideas. They hold a wealth of knowledge. Tap that knowledge. Let creativity run amok. Allow them to do the unexpected.
As Hedy Lamarr has rightly said.
All creative people want to do the unexpected