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Factsheet:

Employee turnover and retention

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in November 2014.

Employee turnover

Employee turnover refers to the proportion of employees who leave an organisation over a set period (often on a year-on-year basis), expressed as a percentage of total workforce numbers.

At its broadest, the term is used to encompass all leavers, both voluntary and involuntary, including those who resign, retire or are made redundant, in which case it may be described as ‘overall’ or ‘crude’ employee turnover. It is also possible to calculate more specific breakdowns of turnover data, such as redundancy-related turnover or resignation levels, with the latter particularly useful for employers in assessing the effectiveness of people management in their organisations

Retention

Retention relates to the extent to which an employer retains its employees and may be measured as the proportion of employees with a specified length of service (typically one year or more) expressed as a percentage of overall workforce numbers.

Latest turnover trends

Our annual Resourcing and talent planning survey report gives a median ‘crude’ or ‘overall’ employee turnover rate for the UK sample collected, as well as the median turnover figure relating purely to those who ‘left voluntarily’ (that is, resignations).

While voluntary turnover rates have decreased recently as a result of challenging economic conditions, the flip side of this coin is that redundancy-related turnover has become more common.

However, skills shortages persist for certain occupational groupings even during troubled economic times, so it is important to be aware of trends in turnover rates for different groups rather than simply focusing on ‘headline’ figures.

Turnover levels can vary widely between occupations and industries. The highest levels are typically found in retailing, hotels, catering and leisure, call centres and among other lower paid private sector services groups.

Levels also vary from region to region. The highest turnover rates tend to be found where unemployment is lowest and where it is relatively easy for people to secure desirable alternative employment.

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  • What are employee turnover and retention?
  • Measuring turnover and retention
  • Why do people leave organisations?
  • Improving employee retention
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • Further reading.

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