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How to Calculate Employee Turnover

published: February 27, 2020

Don’t worry...you don’t need to be a math genius to calculate employee turnover rate.

Calculating employee turnover rate expressed as a percentage is quite simple and only requires you to have a few solid company figures handy.

So, let’s jump in right away, and break down how to calculate the basic monthly employee turnover rate.

The Basics of Calculating Monthly Employee Turnover Rate

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

  • The numbers 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 (B) and ending workforce (E) 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.


bigstock-business-new-job-and-corporat-322852972What’s an Ideal Employee Retention Rate

Pro tip: It's important to note that turnover rates vary significantly from industry to industry. However, turnover rates should (ideally) be lower than 10%, which is a very healthy turnover rate across the board.

Losing some employees is inevitable. So, you’re probably wondering what the average (or “ideal”) retention rate is. In short, what’s the benchmark you should aim to maintain.

Unfortunately, the answer is not so straightforward. Determining a universal benchmark is difficult, as turnover rates vary widely from industry to industry. According to recruiting giant Monster, "every firm should establish its unique ideal rate."

For example, the hospitality industry is notorious for high turnover rates, according to a 2016 Compensation Force study turnover soared at 28.6 percent; almost triple the "healthy" rate of 10% mentioned earlier. That said, if your curious to know more about turnover rates in your industry, check out this useful tool from Nobscot.

Regardless of your industry benchmark, organizations should keep these three points in mind when considering retention:

  • Strategically planning the flow of talent through the organization.
  • Decreasing the flow of top performers out.
  • Increasing the flow of top performers in.

bigstock-Happy-Diverse-Office-Workers-T-288781663Analyzing Employee Turnover Rate

Keeping a finger on the pulse of your company’s global turnover rate is crucial. However, this metric tells HR managers and executives very little about who is leaving their company.

As you can imagine, the absolute turnover rate doesn't tell us anything about who and why people are leaving. Employees quit for all types of reasons.

So gaining a granular understanding of employee turnover in your company starts with familiarizing yourself with more nuanced turnover metrics.

Involuntary Turnover

This type of turnover results from an employee who is terminated due to poor job performance, excessive, unjustified absenteeism, or grave violation of workplace policies. It is considered Involuntary because the departure wasn't a decision made by the employee, and is also referred to as employee "termination" or more colloquially understood as being "fired."Asset 44

An employee layoff due to unfinished work, a slow down in business, or departmental restructuring, can also be considered as involuntary turnover, although turnover caused by any of the reasons above are handled very differently compared to a termination.

While layoffs can have some federal, provincial, or state provisions that help the employee out, not all of these provisions apply to someone who was fired due to poor business performance and not meeting their job requirements.

Voluntary Turnover

Voluntary turnover occurs when an employee leaves a company on their own volition. In short, THEY quit.

Asset 86i

When employees don't feel fulfilled or impressed by a company's offerings, high voluntary turnover is usually the first symptom. Or they might be unfairly compensated or challenge, and as a result, have eyes for organizations offering a higher salary and more challenging position.

This turnover is feared most by businesses. When you lose out on valuable talent, HR may need to investigate deeper to find the root cause of the departure, as other members of your company may be experiencing similar levels of dissatisfaction as well.

On the other hand, the cause may be entirely outside the organization's control. The employee may be unable to work due to personal issues, which can be rectified, depending on the situation. Still, voluntary turnover is generally presupposed with either written or verbal notification of at least two weeks.

Desirable Turnover

While turnover generally has a negative connotation, it can sometimes be positive. Firing an employee whose performance has fallen well below what's expected of them, and already have a new employee who begins meeting those expectations and surpassing them is referred to as positive or desirable turnover.

Top talent turnover

On the other hand, when an organization loses its top performers, the business can take a significant hit. Organizations should have a solid grasp of whether they are losing top talent or not.

If the answer is "yes," some deeper digging must be done to get to the bottom of the underlying reason and fix the issue as quickly as possible. Attrition of top performers is sure to negatively impact a business's bottom line.

Final Thoughts

Remember: Turnover in and of itself isn't intrinsically harmful to a business. As can be seen above, several types of turnover can be beneficial, but the ones which cost billions of dollars a year are incredibly hurtful to businesses. So, be sure to invest in the right initiatives to reduce negative employee turnover.