Take Precautions Against Employee Turnover
Employees can leave for a number of reasons. And they do. A social network analysis can highlight employees in key positions and find others to take over to help you guard the organization against them leaving.
Throughout organizations there are employees that carry disproportional workloads or have vital know-how for your business. This is a problem for an organization as it relies heavily on these people and at the same time, due to overutilization, makes them more likely to permanently or temporarily leave.
Template for the Study
- How often do you work with the following people?
- How often do you seek help from the following people?
- To what extent do the following people do the same job as you?
What to Look for and Do
Find the hubs, measured by number of in-degrees, for the first question. These people are the ones who have highly central roles in the organization and, therefore, might want to be relieved from their central role in the network. Not only can it be stressful for an employee to have this network role, the organization also takes an unnecessary risk when it relies heavily on this employee.
Another kind of central employee is the broker. The broker connects groups and clusters and they have high betweenness scores. The role is not as stressful as the hub role in a network, but it is often a more powerful and important role, so managers should also consider the risk that such employees leave the company. In particular, such employees can be hard to replace if the connections take a long time to establish.
The social network diagram generated for the answers to the second question tend to identify senior and experienced employees. The technique to identify them is similar to the one to identify overutilized employees. As these connections often relate to tacit (read: not easily shared) and experience-based knowledge combined with relatively senior employees, this is an issue that you need to focus on.
The social network for the third question can be used to identify underutilized employees that can relieve overutilized employees. The social network will not tell you how they are utilized in the network, but it will tell you who should be able to substitute each other. Going back to the first two questions you can find people that have the same function as the overutilized employees to relieve the overutilized employees for their network role.
Below, on the left, a central employee is shown; next to her is a co-worker that is less utilized. On the right these same employees have indicated each other as substitutes. This is an excellent opportunity to relieve the overutilized employee from her role.