Email Data: The Missing Link In Talent Management & Retention


“Talent Management & Retention” is not a new concept in corporate America. In fact, your company most likely has a plan dedicated to retaining valuable employees. While these plans depend on many data sources for insights, they seem to be missing a key data resource: corporate e-mails (unstructured data). But before I get ahead of myself, let’s begin with the talent retention basics.

Retain Valuable Employees & Minimize Costs

The financial burden of high turnover rates is no joke, and probably puts most things in perspective for Human Resource departments. As companies have come to find out, it’s much cheaper to retain an employee than it is to recruit and hire a new one. According to the Center for American Progress, the median cost of turnover for most jobs is roughly 21% of an employee’s annual salary. (If someone’s earning $100,000, that’s $21,000!) On the high end of the spectrum, direct replacement costs can be as expensive as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary. (For someone with an annual salary of $100,000, that’s a cost of $50,000 to $60,000 to find a replacement!) Considering these financial implications, many companies have invested in data mining and sentiment analysis technologies to uncover trends and any indications of employee dissatisfaction.

Detect Early Warning Signs

In the majority of instances, an employee does not make an off-the-cuff decision to part ways with a company. While it may come as a shock to management, the employee likely exhibited early warning signs – even if not openly. This is the reason that companies such as Walmart and Credit Suisse have began analyzing data such as job tenure, geography, performance reviews, employee surveys, communication patterns, and personality assessments. By using data mining and sentiment analysis technologies, companies can search for trends within the data that contributed to employee turnover. These results can then be leveraged to prevent additional losses in the future – both in terms of employees and finances.

E-mails Are A Primary Source of Trend Detection

When it comes to Talent Management and Retention, the problem is that many organizations recommend conducting surveys to gage employee dissatisfaction. While surveys are important, they are not ideal data sources for trend detection. Returning to my original point at the beginning of this blog post, employee e-mails are important resources wrongly being neglected by companies. In fact, e-mails are more reliable forms of communication than surveys because there are an abundance of them over an extended period of time. On the contrary, surveys are few in nature and are conducted at a singular, specific point in time.  If you think about it, trend detection, by its very definition, is not something that can be determined in one or several instances. Instead, it uncovers patterns and correlations across a span of time. Furthermore, employees may not honestly answer surveys in fear that they are not truly anonymous and that they will upset management. Typically, e-mails are honest and open mediums of communication that can be depended on. Considering these facts, companies that choose to disregard e-mails entirely are missing an important component to understanding and minimizing employee job dissatisfaction and turnover.

If your company is truly serous about retaining valuable employees, as it should be, then it is crucial to consider all data sets – especially e-mails. With 75% of a company’s intellectual propertystored in e-mails and messaging systems, it’s about time that you mine it for insights on employee dissatisfaction.

How An E-mail Mining Program Works

As a communication medium, e-mails contain vital information that is reflective of your employees. By implementing an E-mail Mining program, your company can get to the bottom of employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Let’s take a look at some examples.

First off, company e-mails are a great source for detecting communication trends. For example, how many e-mails does your sales rep send out each day? Approximately how many customers or prospects is he/she communicating with in these e-mails? These are just a couple of the statistics that can be uncovered in e-mail. Typically, these numerics reflect your reps’ established e-mail workflow. Any deviation from the norm could very well indicate that one of your sales reps already has one foot out the door, meaning that he/she is less concerned with productivity and performance.

As direct forms of communication between your sales rep and his/her customers, e-mails typically contain sentiment of some kind. If your rep is renowned for being an optimistic individual, then red flags should be drawn when he/she suddenly becomes negative in his/her e-mail communications. This could be anything from angry e-mails to down right threatening ones. Sentiment analysis technologies assign positive, negative, or neutral scores to the e-mails that allow you to monitor the change in sentiment as it happens.

Of course, there’s the possibility that your rep is applying for other jobs directly from his/her corporate e-mail account. Maybe he/she even heard back from a couple of recruiters and arranged interviews. Mining these corporate e-mails enables you to discover where your rep is interested in going – and perhaps even why. Now that you have this information available, you can make the necessary changes to encourage him/her to stay, if you choose. Maybe this means improving the work environment or providing him/her with a more competitive compensation plan.

As you can see from the above examples, corporate e-mails are a treasure trove of information pertaining to employee dissatisfaction. With all of this information, your company should not simply ignore it. Having a high employee turnover is an expensive problem, but there is no reason that your company can’t get it under control. You’re simply missing a key statistical component in your data sets – e-mails. Implement an E-mail Mining Program so that you can optimize your Talent Management and Retention plan. It’s a valuable resource that your company desperately needs to get the full picture to manage turnover rates and employee retention.