Tech industry giant IBM, which employs over 380,000 workers, recently announced they have issued a patent for a “predictive attrition program,” an AI technology developed at IBM that can identify when an employee is planning to quit their job. IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty has said that this AI is able to make its prediction with 95 percent accuracy. This new AI technology comes on the heels of IBM’s long-term effort to reevaluate and reinvent the traditional approaches to corporate HR.
IBM has developed this technology alongside their question-answering computer system Watson. The AI software can detect employees that are at risk for quitting and then communicate with IBM management and HR in order to better facilitate employee retention.
Rometty has claimed that the software has already saved IBM nearly 300 million dollars in employee retention expenses. In a recent presentation, Rometty only hinted at the data sets used by the AI to make these predictions, but this demonstrates the growing impact deep learning and predictive analytics are having on the technology industry and beyond.
IBM’s latest AI advancement is part of a company-wide overhaul of its global Human Resources department. Among other changes, IBM has gotten rid of yearly reviews and shrunk their HR department by 30 percent. Rometty claims that despite the smaller department, salaries and wages have increased notably for the remaining staff. IBM’s AI already tracks employees along with several workplace metrics including output, skills, training, and internal rankings. “I expect AI will change 100 percent of jobs in the next five to ten years,” said Rometty. If IBM’s current internal changes are any indication, Rometty’s prediction is well on its way to becoming reality.
Like many jobs being replaced by automated technologies, Rometty has stated that HR employees are not under attack, but new solutions need to be explored. IBM’s existing HR staff works alongside their new AI technology to better navigate the tech giant’s employee retention needs.
IBM has moved away from the old standard of using external organizations to build employee excellence centers and is instead moving towards a model where their own AI technologies can help existing HR staff create “solution centers.” IBM’s larger suite of software products, such as cloud services as other software-based modernizations, have decreased their need to rely on traditional HR models.
IBM executives have commented that this software is aimed at retaining employees with rare or valuable skills and not at “low performers” with more comparably common skillsets. Hiring in the tech industry is becoming increasingly difficult as employees become more ready to make the jump to new prospects. IBM has claimed that its employee retention AI is already showing signs of success. In one case, an employee was flagged as being at potential risk for quitting but was retained through a mix of stretch goals and mentoring.
Far from being an internal-only project, IBM is making this AI technology available to external customers. Other companies in the tech industry have been exploring AI backed retention solutions for some time, but—with this recent patent—it seems IBM has beaten many of its competitors to the finishing line. With the apparent success of IBM’s lately, AI advancement, an AI backed employee retention might be rolling out in a company near you.