Unveiling Employee Turnover, One Variable at a Time

How Lyndon Llanes, SHS '15, helped uncover the secret to employee turnover during his internship at Retensa.

June 20, 2016
Lyndon Llanes, graduate student in Touro\'s Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program
Lyndon Llanes, graduate student in Touro's Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program

What makes employees resign?

During his internship, and then his subsequent part-time position at Retensa Consulting, Lyndon was able to uncover answers to this very question.

At Retensa, Lyndon conducted numerous exit interviews with employees, looking for trends in the multitude of reports and turning them into constituted data. “So if someone said, for example, that he quit because my coworkers were horrible and I hated working with them, that’s a qualitative statement,” explains Lyndon. “It was my job to turn it into a quantitative variable for why employees leave (i.e. coworkers, or salaries, or senior leadership). In this way, we transformed various qualitative reasons for resigning into meaningful metrics.” And then, using data-analysis techniques gleaned from “my statistics and research methods classes,” he examined all the trends.

After examining the 100+ variables that cause employee turnover, Lyndon helped his senior supervisors build a turnover calculator—a calculator that HR teams can use to determine how much, exactly, it costs the company when valuable employees resign from their jobs. It took 18 months to build “the world’s most comprehensive Turnover Calculator.”

But there was just one problem: Because it was so comprehensive, the calculator would require HR reps to spend days collecting the data just so they could figure out the cost of their employee turnover. “Remember, there were more than 100 variables to take into account—which meant that HR representatives would be required to answer more than a hundred questions just to get an estimate of their turnover cost.”

“So then we had an idea,” says Lyndon. “What if there were only eight variables – would the calculator still give accurate results? Obviously, it’s easier to collect the answers to 8 questions than 100.” So, using his knowledge of statistics and Excel, Lyndon—working closely with a senior consultant at Retensa—facilitated the consolidation of the 100 metrics down to just eight.

Then, Lyndon worked with developers to create the algorithm. “We simplified it, making it quick and easy and painless. We took a paper formula, turned it into an excel audit system, and then turned it into an online algorithm.” They realized that the calculation was still fairly accurate. 

Currently, Lyndon is a Personnel Program Development Specialist at New York City Health + Hospitals (NYCHH). Ironically, this employee turnover expert decided to leave his full-time job at Retensa for a position at NYCHH. His variables? Better pay, more responsibilities, more opportunity for growth. Now, in his current job at NYCHH, he’s still looking at turnover- but in a larger setting. “I have access to data for an employee population base of 40,000+ employees. I’m running turnover reports for the entire healthcare system, and other workforce analytics. I loved Retensa, I loved the CEO, but this is more long-term and I can see myself growing further here.”

Most helpful skills learned at Touro:

Articulating solutions for employee turnover. “Knowing how to speak intelligently about turnover, being able to articulate the scientific method as it relates to business practices… being able to talk about what you learned in school in an applied setting… were all necessary at Retensa.”

Excel. “Learning how to do statistics in Excel at Touro made it easier at Retensa and NYC Health + Hospitals, where not everyone uses SPSS."

Interview techniques and questions. “At Retensa, we used behavioral-based interview techniques and questions to select candidates.  Dr. Islam’s classes provided me with a structural understanding of this technique. I was able to understand the methodology and rationale for the system and avoided leading or biasing my interviews, which made screening and selection a lot easier for me.”

Presentation skills. “Several weeks ago, I had to give a presentation on the Cost of Turnover Calculator to an internal audience at Retensa, and all my classes on presenting were invaluable.”