HR Administration

Alliant Techsystems Inc.: Optimas Award Winner for Innovation

By Rita Pyrillis

Nov. 1, 2012

When more than half the jobs at your company require expertise so specialized that in some cases only one or two employees possess it, retaining workers becomes a unique challenge requiring an innovative approach. For weapons-maker Alliant Techsystems Inc., the answer is in the data.

The company, which is also known as ATK, has developed a flight-risk model using human resources data such as an employee’s age, tenure and marital status to predict which workers might leave because of retirement or for other opportunities. The initiative began in January 2010 at ATK’s Radford, Virginia, location, which employs about 1,200 people. In 2012 the program was rolled out to the company’s three divisions: aerospace, defense and sporting, says Cory Edmonds, manager of compensation and workforce analytics for the Minnesota-based firm’s 15,000 employees.

ATK is teaching managers and HR team members how to use the data to address talent management challenges. ATK is a leader in this area and was profiled in the March 2011 issue of Workforce Management. Edmonds says that the publicity generated some interest among the company’s HR professionals, but some managers were skeptical.

“The impression was that this is too theoretical,” he says. “Some got it right away, but others could not see that this had a direct impact on the business. We’re trying to educate managers and make the results more available to the HR community so they can start using it.”

Edmonds says that the system is fully automated and refreshed daily.

The information is also used to create a quarterly flight-risk report alerting managers to the number of employees who might leave during a specific time period. The goal of the project is to reduce costs through more effective talent management.

“You can get information on why people are leaving, but at that point they’re already gone,” Edmonds says. “The next step is predicting employee engagement. It’s about trying to make the correlation between engagement and business outcomes.”

For its pioneering work in using analytics to manage workforce issues, ATK is the 2012 winner of the Optimas Award for Innovation.

Rita Pyrillis is Workforce’s senior writer. Comment below or email

Workforce Management, November 2012, p. 28Subscribe Now!

Rita Pyrillis is a writer based in the Chicago area.

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