Experiencing a High Turnover Rate? Here's 8 Metrics to Uncover How Come

Employees on conveyor belt headed toward the exit

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to employee turnover, including job satisfaction, work-life balance, company culture, and a lack of opportunity for career growth. Because of all the different influences that can create a high level of turnover, it's important to implement key metrics and evaluate results carefully before making strategic changes.

Not all turnover is bad, as in the case of an under-performer leaving. In fact, a healthy employee turnover rate is important because it ensures a steady stream of new people to infuse excitement and bring new ideas / perspectives to the table. However, a high employee turnover rate can be indicative of a disengaged workforce or bad hiring decisions. 

Negative consequences of a high employee turnover rate

A weakened brand

Companies that experience high levels of employee turnover often find it difficult to retain talented personnel and build a strong brand identity over time.

Increased costs

The time spent recruiting and training new employees adds up quickly. Some of the most common costs include:

  • Hiring and onboarding
  • Training and development
  • Lost productivity and wages

Decreased productivity

Employee attrition is often viewed as an important indicator of the company’s overall health. The higher the employee attrition rate, the more likely it is that a company is not meeting its strategic growth goals and objectives.

Tougher recruiting

High turnover rates can also be a sign that your company is not offering competitive salaries and benefits, or that the work environment is not positive. It can be extremely difficult to overcome a negative reputation in the market, especially when recruiting in an employee-driven market like we are experiencing today.

Key employee turnover metrics to track

Technology and analytics can support a better understanding of the employee retention and recruiting strategies that are working, and which ones need to be modified or improved. There are a variety of platforms to help you get an accurate picture of what is going on, and by understanding the metrics that are most important to your market / industry, you can choose a software solution to meet your specific needs. Here are the top eight areas that savvy recruiting managers monitor to gauge effectiveness:

  1. Overall retention rate

This is simply the overall percentage of employees who remain with a company over a given period of time. It is hard to determine a global “healthy turnover” benchmark because it depends on a variety of factors, such as industry (hospitality, retail, and fast food/restaurants have notoriously high turnover rates.) The SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Report found that the average employee turnover rate in 2017 was 18%, and that less than 50% of organizations had a succession plan in place. The general rule of thumb is that organizations should aim for 10% for an employee turnover rate, with the majority falling into the range of 12% to 20%.

  1. Voluntary turnover rate

Voluntary turnover measures how many individuals leave the company by choice, or basically who leave their job for any reason other than retirement, dismissal, or death. A low voluntary turnover rate often indicates there are key aspects like culture, work-life balance, or salary that make employees want to stay on board. Survey tools can identify which aspects of the company support employee engagement and where you can improve to decrease high levels of turnover.

  1. Involuntary turnover

Determining involuntary turnover lets you evaluate the effectiveness of your current recruitment strategy. A low involuntary turnover rate means you're recruiting great candidates and providing them with the tools they want and need to succeed.

  1. Talent turnover rate

Calculating your talent turnover rate quantified the value of the employees who leave your company voluntarily – as not all turnover has the same level of impact. One way to factor in a loss of key talent is to give more weight to critical positions and leadership roles.

  1. Employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction can be determined by surveys or interviews. Net promoter score (NPS) is a metric used to determine customer satisfaction and can be adapted to internal teams.

  1. New employee satisfaction

To gauge how fulfilled this critical group is, consider informational interviews during the first few months of their engagement or anonymous surveys. Input from this subsector can give you clarity into the effectiveness of your recruiting and onboarding process.

  1. Retention per manager or department

Looking at retention rates by manager or department can often shed light on the impact a company's HR policies and practices have in retaining employees versus the potential of having an issue with just one or a handful of managers.

  1. Average employment length

The average employment length varies, again, depending on several factors. The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.1 years in January 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The trend of shorter employment lengths has continued over the last few decades, likely due to companies moving away from hiring FTEs in favor of contracting or part-time hires.


Companies look to HR, recruiting managers, and hiring managers to build and execute a hiring process transformation to decrease costs and improve outcomes. There are a variety of metrics and tools you can use to identify the key contributors to a high turnover rate in your company. Just as important as deciding which tools to use is assuring that the metrics you measure are the ones tied to the company’s overarching strategic goals. Getting clear data is the first step to developing programs that can reduce high turnover rates and support organizational growth!


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