Employee Turnover Explained:
A Comprehensive Guide for 2023


Employee turnover reveals a lot about any organization’s culture, hiring effectiveness, and overall employee management. What can you do to handle staff retention more effectively?

In today’s dynamic professional landscape, reducing employee turnover is a key focus. Every company must work to retain top talent to improve workplace efficiency and maintain a competitive edge in any market. 

Today’s workplace is marked by a shifting paradigm where retaining top talent has become as crucial as acquiring it. According to Gallup, a new employee takes up to two years to become fully productive in their role. This means potential lost revenue and increased costs related to onboarding.

So, how can companies calculate and prevent employee turnover while navigating the complexities of today’s workforce?

The answer lies in understanding the types of turnover, the definition of turnover, effectively calculating turnover rates, and implementing targeted strategies for reducing it. Today, we’re embarking on a journey to explore the ins and outs of employee turnover, and how it can be managed successfully, and we’ll offer insights to navigate the complexities of workforce management.

Key Takeaways

  • Employee turnover impacts a range of diverse industries for HR reps, managers, and high-level execs
  • Actionable strategies, data-driven insights, and innovative tools are effective options for managing and reducing employee turnover in today's competitive job market
  • The transformative power of recognition software— like Applauz — can foster a positive workplace culture and help build a resilient and motivated workforce


High employee turnover isn't confined to a specific sector; it's a universal challenge transcending industries. From tech giants to healthcare providers, businesses grapple with the repercussions of talented employees leaving for a variety of reasons (which we’ll get into later). The ripple effects are felt in productivity, company culture, and the bottom line. 

Today’s guide recognizes the urgency of addressing this concern head-on, acknowledging that the solutions need to be as diverse as the reasons behind the turnover.

As we journey through the facets of employee turnover, whether you’re an HR executive or management, mitigating turnover isn't just a strategy—it's a necessity for sustained success in the competitive landscape of 2023. Join us as we unravel the layers of this challenge and illuminate the path toward a more stable and engaged workforce.

How Applauz Can Support Your Employee Retention Initiatives Download PDF Now

Understanding Employee Turnover: What Is It, Why Does It Matter, How Much Does it Cost?men-working-together

What Is Employee Turnover?

Employee turnover refers to the departure of staff from an organization during a given time period. The fundamental concept is straightforward and consists of various factors that can significantly impact the health and functioning of any business.

Why Does Employee Turnover Matter?

Within an organization, a mass turnover of personnel can erode any company’s growth and success from the inside. Its implications can stretch far beyond mere statistics, influencing the very fabric of workplace dynamics. 

For businesses of all sizes, from startups to corporate giants, the following points underscore the critical importance of understanding and addressing employee turnover across all industries:

  1. Workplace Health Indicator:

    Employee turnover serves as a barometer of workplace health. Elevated turnover rates often signal deeper organizational structure, management, or work culture issues. By monitoring and mitigating turnover, businesses can proactively enhance the overall well-being of their workforce.p

  2. Impact on Productivity:

    The departure of experienced employees can disrupt workflow, resulting in a temporary decline in productivity. The loss of institutional knowledge and the time required to onboard replacements can contribute to inefficiencies. Understanding turnover enables businesses to implement strategies that minimize these disruptions.

  3. Cost Implications:

    High turnover comes with substantial financial implications. The costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training can accumulate rapidly. Often, the loss of skilled employees may lead to a dip in operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, further affecting the bottom line.

    The costs of replacing an individual worker can range from half to four times the employee’s annual salary. That means if you’re hiring for a job that pays $60,000, you could spend upwards of $180,000 to fill that role.

  4. Cultural Influence:

    A revolving door of employees can erode the cultural fabric of an organization. Employee turnover impacts team dynamics, collaboration, and morale. Conversely, a stable workforce fosters a positive and cohesive work culture, contributing to employee satisfaction and long-term success.

But employee turnover isn't merely a numerical metric; it's a dynamic force that can shape a company's success and resilience. Because employee turnover has so many consequences, it’s important for all businesses to keep tabs on it so HR execs, leaders, and managers can take the necessary action if employment retention rates start to dip.

The Costs of Employee Turnover

The costs of employee turnover can be astounding. 

Financial burdens associated with employee retention extend beyond the surface expenses of recruitment and onboarding. Employee turnover takes a toll not only on a company's human resources but also on its financial landscape. 

Consider a 100-employee company that has an average salary of $50,000. It could have turnover costs of over $2 million per year, and replacing C-level executive positions can cost up to 213% of their respective yearly salaries.

This all leads to a loss of productivity, which costs US businesses a staggering $1.8 trillion every year. 

There are also hidden costs that go beyond what it takes to train, hire, and retain new employees. Here are tangible and intangible elements that contribute to the overall financial impact:

  1. Recruitment Expenses:

    The process of replacing an employee involves advertising, recruitment agency fees, and other expenses related to sourcing new talent. These upfront costs form a significant portion of the financial burden.

  2. Onboarding and Training:

    New hires require training to acclimate to their roles and integrate into the company culture. The time and resources invested in onboarding programs, mentorship, and training materials contribute substantially to the overall cost.

  3. Productivity Loss:

    As new employees settle into their positions, productivity often experiences a temporary dip. Existing staff may need to divert their attention to assist newcomers, impacting overall team efficiency.

  4. Impact on Customer Satisfaction:

    Employee turnover can influence customer satisfaction. A rotating door of staff may lead to inconsistencies in service quality, affecting customer relationships and potentially resulting in revenue loss.

Understanding these multifaceted costs is paramount for organizations seeking to proactively manage turnover and mitigate its financial repercussions. As we've explored in other articles, the true costs of employee turnover extend well beyond the obvious.

How to Calculate Employee Turnover

Good news: You don’t need to be a math genius to calculate the employee turnover rate. Calculating various types of turnover rates expressed as a percentage is quite simple and only requires that you have a few solid figures handy.

To calculate your monthly employee turnover rate, all you need is three numbers:

  • The number of active employees at the beginning of the month (B)
  • The number of active employees at the end of the month (E)
  • The number of employees who left during that month (L)

Then, calculate the average (average) number of employees by adding your beginning and ending workforce and dividing by two.

Finally, you should divide the number of employees who left (L) by your average number (average) of employees and multiply by 100 to get your final turnover percentage.

Regularly calculating these metrics provides a dynamic understanding of workforce fluctuations, empowering organizations to make informed decisions that enhance stability and productivity.

Knowing how to calculate employee turnover isn’t tricky--and Applauz offers a more in-depth analysis in the form of a guide to understanding how to calculate it and improving employee retention.

Understanding the Root Causes of Employee Turnoverfocused-mixraced-professional-team-business-people-work-together-meeting-table-2

Employee turnover is a pervasive challenge in the contemporary work landscape. To mitigate this issue effectively, organizations must delve into the core reasons that prompt employees to leave. Identifying these causes is the first step toward implementing strategies that foster retention and cultivate a thriving workplace.

Cause #1: Lack of Career Growth Opportunities

A primary driver of employee turnover is the absence of clear paths for career advancement. When employees feel stagnation in their professional development, they often seek opportunities elsewhere. Organizations that fail to provide avenues for skill enhancement and career progression may find themselves grappling with high turnover rates.

Cause #2: Inadequate Compensation and Benefits

Compensation plays a pivotal role in employee satisfaction and retention. When organizations offer subpar salary packages or fail to provide competitive benefits, employees are more likely to explore alternatives that align with their financial expectations. Adequate compensation, including benefits and perks, is integral to employee retention.

Cause #3: Poor Work-Life Balance

In the fast-paced modern workplace, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial. Organizations that excessively burden employees with demanding workloads, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of flexibility risk contributing to high turnover. Achieving a balance between professional and personal life is essential for employee well-being and sustained retention.

Cause #4: Negative Workplace Culture

A toxic work environment is a significant contributor to employee turnover. When organizational culture lacks positivity, open communication, and mutual respect, employees may feel disengaged and unmotivated. Establishing a culture that values collaboration, inclusivity, and employee well-being is pivotal for reducing turnover rates.

By addressing these root causes, organizations can tailor their strategies to enhance employee satisfaction, foster growth, and create a workplace where employees are motivated to stay and contribute to long-term success.

Exploring the Types of Employee Turnoverupset-man-years-wearing-blue-cardigan-standing-near-his-workplace-while-collecting-things-2

Employee turnover manifests in various forms, each with distinct implications for organizations. Understanding these types is crucial for implementing retention strategies. Here are the nuances of voluntary and involuntary turnover, along with the differences between desirable and undesirable turnover.

Voluntary Turnover

Voluntary turnover occurs when employees choose to leave an organization. 

This could be prompted by diverse reasons such as better career opportunities, dissatisfaction with the current role, or personal reasons. For instance, an employee quitting to pursue advanced studies or moving to another city contributes to voluntary turnover. Organizations must discern the motivations behind voluntary turnover to address underlying concerns and enhance retention.

Involuntary Turnover

Comparatively, involuntary turnover occurs when employees are compelled to leave due to circumstances beyond their control. Examples include layoffs, terminations due to poor performance, or restructuring. While involuntary turnover may be necessary for organizational efficiency, it's essential to manage it judiciously to minimize its impact on morale and productivity.

Desirable Turnover

Desirable turnover pertains to the departure of employees whose exit is beneficial for the organization. This could involve underperforming individuals or those whose skills no longer align with organizational needs. For instance, a company embracing technological advancements might experience desirable turnover when employees with outdated skill sets transition out, making room for more compatible talent.

Undesirable Turnover

Conversely, undesirable turnover involves the loss of valuable and skilled employees that the organization would prefer to retain. Losing key contributors, especially without a succession plan, can be detrimental to any business. Organizations should focus on mitigating undesirable turnover by addressing the factors influencing the departure of top-performing individuals.

Recognizing these types of employee turnover enables organizations to adopt a nuanced approach, tailoring retention strategies based on the specific circumstances surrounding departures.

Industries Experiencing the Highest Employment Turnovergroup-people-room-with-desk-computer-monitor-2

In the dynamic landscape of today’s workforce, the challenge of employee turnover extends its reach across various industries. 

Excluding layoffs and other types of involuntary termination, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that four million employees have left their jobs voluntarily every month since the start of 2022.

Analyzing recent data and studying employee turnover statistics provides insights into sectors facing pronounced difficulties in talent retention.

Hospitality and Retail

Industries characterized by high-demand, customer-facing roles, such as hospitality and retail, grapple with substantial turnover rates. Frontline positions in these sectors often contend with irregular working hours, demanding customer interactions, and comparatively lower compensation, leading to a higher likelihood of employee churn.

Key Fact: Hospitality and retail employee turnover rates are among the highest in any sector. In 2023 across the US, the average employee turnover rate in restaurants was an alarming 147% and 60% in retail.

Technology and Innovation

Surprisingly, even sectors associated with innovation and technology aren't immune to turnover challenges. The fast-paced nature of these industries, coupled with a competitive talent market, can result in skilled professionals seeking new opportunities frequently. Organizations in technology and innovation must balance their quest for innovation with effective retention strategies to retain top-tier talent.

Key Fact: The giant online retailer Amazon has an annual employer turnover rate of 150% –  double the industry average. According to leaked documents, employee turnover costs the company and its shareholders $8 billion per year.


While the healthcare sector remains indispensable, it faces persistent challenges in retaining skilled professionals. Factors such as high-stress environments, demanding schedules, and, in certain cases, insufficient recognition contribute to elevated turnover rates. Hospitals and healthcare institutions must prioritize employee well-being and recognition to address this ongoing concern.

Key Fact: In 2022, turnover rates for sectors in the healthcare industry ranged from 19% at hospitals to 65% for at-home care providers to a stunning 94% at nursing homes.

Manufacturing and Construction

In industries like manufacturing and construction, where physical demands and safety concerns prevail, turnover rates can be notably high. The nature of the work, coupled with potential safety hazards, may lead to employees seeking alternative roles with better work-life balance or enhanced safety measures.

Key Fact: Low wages, combined with a lack of job growth opportunities, are the two main employee turnover factors in manufacturing and construction.

Understanding the industries grappling with elevated turnover rates is a pivotal step for organizations within these sectors. Armed with this awareness, businesses can tailor their retention strategies to address industry-specific challenges, fostering a more stable and satisfied workforce.

Effective Strategies to Prevent High Employee Turnovermultiethnic-business-team-sitting-table-office-center-speaking-2

Understanding factors that contribute to worker turnover is important but not as much as mastering specific strategies to mitigate it, altogether. 

By actively addressing the root causes and implementing targeted strategies, businesses can foster an environment where employees feel valued and motivated, and in turn, increase employee retention rates. 

In short, it’s imperative for organizations to confront the challenges of employee turnover head-on and journey towards maximizing staff retention through a blend of strategic managerial practices, insightful data analysis, and fostering a culture that values employee contributions. 

Here are seven key factors and strategies to consider in the constant pursuit of employee retention.

  1. Managerial Leadership

    Effective leadership plays a pivotal role in employee retention. It involves not only selecting competent managers but also ensuring that they are equipped with the necessary skills to lead and motivate their teams.

    Formalizing managerial responsibilities, providing leadership training, and fostering open communication channels are integral steps in minimizing turnover. When employees feel supported and inspired by their leaders, the likelihood of voluntary turnover diminishes significantly.

    Similarly, a positive work culture is foundational for worker retention. Managers, leaders, and HR execs can cultivate an environment that values open communication, collaboration, and employee well-being. Establishing a sense of belonging and purpose can – and will – significantly reduce turnover rates.

  2. Motivation and Job Satisfaction

    Understanding what motivates employees is essential in crafting strategies to reduce turnover. Regularly assessing employee satisfaction levels through surveys and feedback mechanisms allows organizations to identify areas that may be causing dissatisfaction.

    Recognizing and addressing these pain points, whether related to compensation, career growth, or workplace culture, contributes to higher job satisfaction and decreased turnover rates.

  3. Data-Driven Insights

    We live in a world of valuable data, and employee retention data is no different.

    Leveraging attrition data can provide valuable insights into the patterns and reasons behind employee turnover. By analyzing historical turnover data, organizations can identify trends, anticipate potential challenges, and tailor retention strategies accordingly. This data-driven approach empowers businesses to proactively address issues and create targeted solutions, fostering a work environment that mitigates the factors contributing to turnover.

  4. Effective Communication

    Transparent and open communication is a cornerstone of employee satisfaction. Regularly sharing organizational updates, recognizing achievements, and addressing concerns in a timely manner create a culture of trust. Employees who feel heard and informed are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty to the organization, reducing the probability of turnover.

    It’s also key to establish clear channels for regular employee feedback and communication. Understanding employee concerns and addressing them promptly creates a culture of trust and engagement, mitigating factors that contribute to turnover.

  5. Recognition Software

    Employee recognition holds substantial weight in the realm of retention. Acknowledging and appreciating employee contributions is a powerful motivator.

    Recognition software, such as Applauz, streamlines the process of acknowledging achievements, milestones, and valuable contributions. It provides a platform for peer-to-peer recognition, fostering a positive culture that enhances employee engagement and diminishes turnover.

    Applauz’s Employee Recognition platform allows for structured recognition (acknowledgment of work anniversaries or birthdays) or unstructured recognition (kudos on a job well done that can come from managers or peers). This ability to provide and receive support from colleagues is a critical component of any healthy work environment, remote or otherwise.

    The best employee recognition software also includes pulse survey functionality that allows managers and HR leaders to take the temperature of the organization and spot emerging issues– also offered by Applauz.

  6. Culture and Recognition

    Establishing a strong culture with genuine recognition and appreciation is a wise employee retention strategy.

    With Applauz, a company can have their own social platform where employees and managers can give each other recognition, post announcements, and publicly celebrate important events like birthdays and work anniversaries.

    Applauz believes great cultures are created when “employees feel appreciated,” and you can take the first steps to initiate a recognition program as easily as clicking on the company’s “Request Demo” link.

  7. Career Development Opportunities

    HR execs, managers, and leaders should provide clear pathways for career growth and skill development in any business.

    Offering training programs, mentorship initiatives, and opportunities for advancement instills a sense of progression, keeping employees motivated and committed.

    You’d be wise to regularly review and adjust compensation packages to remain competitive in the job market. Competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and enticing perks contribute to employee satisfaction and diminish the allure of external opportunities.

  8. Flexible Work Arrangements

    Incorporating flexibility into work arrangements and acknowledging the importance of work-life balance is critically important in today’s evolving professional landscape. Remote work options, flexible hours, and accommodating policies can enhance job satisfaction and minimize turnover.

    Flexible work arrangements help to reduce employee stress, offer staff a higher level of autonomy, save employees time and money, and demonstrate that execs care.

    Flexible jobs are becoming the norm across various industries – don’t fall behind.

Minimizing employee turnover involves a multifaceted approach that addresses various aspects of the employee experience. By building a more positive work culture, understanding motivators, fostering effective communication, leveraging recognition software, and following the data, organizations can build a resilient workforce that thrives in the face of modern workplace challenges.

Conclusion & Navigating the Terrain of Employee Turnovertwo-young-colleague-business-woman-discussing-ideas-using-laptop-computer-business-financial-concept-2

In the ever-evolving landscape of today's workplaces, the tides of employee turnover can either erode the foundations of an organization or propel it toward greater resilience.

Understanding the nuances of employee turnover is not merely a matter of statistical analysis but a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to fortify their workforce.

The message is clear: Turnover is not an isolated concern limited to a specific industry or sector—it is a challenge demanding calculated attention across every working sector. The impacts of high turnover rates are far-reaching, affecting not only the stability of a workforce but also the bottom line of businesses.

Key takeaways underscore the vital role of leadership excellence, motivation, job satisfaction, data-driven insights, effective communication, and the transformative power of recognition software. 

Applauz offers an indispensable tool in the journey towards talent retention. Our platform provides seamless and meaningful employee recognition options as we strive to become the catalysts for building a workplace culture where employees feel valued, acknowledged, and motivated to contribute their best.

Our recognition programs can provide a structured platform for acknowledging and rewarding employee efforts, fostering a culture of appreciation and engagement, and, perhaps most importantly, reducing employee turnover.

Investing in retention strategies is not just an expense; it's an integral investment in the future of your organization.

If you’re wisely prioritizing employee recognition, visit our guide to direct you toward everything you need to know about creating a successful Employee Recognition Program.

Increase Retention with an Employee Engagement Program Download PDF Now


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the impact of high employee turnover on a company?

High employee turnover can have significant repercussions on a company, including disruptions in workflow, decreased productivity, increased recruitment costs, and the potential erosion of organizational culture. It can also negatively influence customer satisfaction and hinder long-term growth.

How can organizations measure employee turnover?

Employee turnover is commonly measured by calculating the turnover rate, which involves determining the number of employees who have left during a specific period divided by the average number of employees during the same period. The formula is (Number of Employees Who Left / Average Number of Employees) * 100.

What are the main causes of employee turnover?

Several factors contribute to employee turnover, including lack of career growth opportunities, inadequate compensation, poor work-life balance, and negative workplace culture. Identifying and addressing these root causes is crucial for developing effective retention strategies.

Is turnover always a negative phenomenon?

While high turnover can be detrimental, not all turnover is negative. Desirable turnover involves the departure of employees whose exit benefits the organization, such as underperforming individuals. However, minimizing undesirable turnover of valuable talent is a key organizational goal.

How can companies reduce employee turnover?

To reduce employee turnover, organizations can focus on leadership excellence, understanding employee motivators, leveraging data-driven insights, fostering effective communication, and utilizing employee recognition software.

What role does recognition software play in reducing turnover?

Recognition software, like Applauz, plays a crucial role in reducing turnover by fostering a positive workplace culture. It allows organizations to acknowledge and appreciate employee contributions, boosting morale, job satisfaction, and overall engagement. A recognized and motivated workforce is less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Are there industries more prone to high turnover?

Yes, certain industries, such as hospitality, retail, technology, and healthcare, often face higher turnover rates due to the nature of their work, demanding roles, and other industry-specific challenges. Understanding industry-specific turnover challenges helps organizations tailor their retention strategies.

How often should organizations update their employee retention strategies?

Employee retention strategies should be regularly reviewed and updated to align with changing workforce dynamics, industry trends, and organizational goals. Periodic assessments, at least annually, ensure that strategies remain effective and address evolving challenges.

Can employee turnover be completely eliminated?

Complete elimination of employee turnover might not be realistic or desirable. Some level of turnover is natural and can contribute to organizational growth. The goal is to manage turnover effectively, ensuring that the organization retains its top talent and minimizes undesirable departures.

What role does company culture play in reducing turnover?

A positive company culture is instrumental in reducing turnover. Cultivating an environment of trust, open communication, and employee well-being fosters job satisfaction and loyalty. Employees are more likely to stay in organizations where they feel valued and aligned with the company culture.

Find out how Applauz can reduce turnover!

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