Employee turnover can have a negative impact on an organisation’s performance. By understanding the reasons why staff leave an organisation, employers can devise initiatives that reduce turnover and increase employee retention.

Employee turnover can also have an impact on cost, with the major costs being:

  • Administration of the resignation
  • Recruitment and selection costs
  • Covering the post during the period in which there is a vacancy
  • Induction training for the new employee

Takeaway tips

Measure employee turnover and retention rate

Calculate the employee turnover rate as a percentage of the total number of employees.

Total number of leavers over period / Average total number employed over period x 100

Calculate the retention rate of employees.

Number of staff with service of one year or more / Total number of staff in post one year ago x 100

Hold effective exit interviews

Exit interviews aim to limit the loss of knowledge by capturing what staff know and have learned from their time spent in the organisation, before they leave to work elsewhere.

Exit interviews can be used to investigate the reasons why staff leave an organisation. Getting accurate information can be difficult as the reasons given for resignation can differ from employees’ genuine reason for leaving. Individuals may be reluctant to voice criticism of their managers, colleagues or the organisation generally and give less contentious reasons for their departure.

In effective exit interviews the interviewer should not be a manager who has responsibility for the individual or who will be involved in future reference writing. Confidentiality should be assured and the purpose of the interview explained.

Using an external provider to conduct exit interviews can help to capture more accurate leaving data, as individuals are more willing to be honest when there is reassurance of anonymity.

Develop practices to improve retention

Practices that can improve retention include:

  • Be flexible – try to accommodate individual preferences on working hours and times
  • Treat people fairly – a perception of unfairness is a major cause of voluntary resignations
  • Promote employee wellbeing – support managers to help their teams thrive, and manage issues such as workplace stress and absenteeism
  • Enable career development – maximise opportunities for employees to develop skills and careers and understand and manage people’s career expectations
  • Consult employees – ensure that employees have a ‘voice’ through regular performance conversations, attitude surveys and grievance systems

Case studies

GM Leavers Research Study by Cordis Bright

Report on research into leavers from the health and care workforce

The Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership has undertaken a piece of work with its partner Cordis Bright to better understand the challenges around ‘Leavers’ within the Health and Care Workforce across Greater Manchester (GM). This project was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Workforce Bureau to inform the wider GM retention plan and its alignment to people experience and the NHS people promise with funding obtained through the GM Workforce Collaborative. It set to look specifically at the associated data and information to better inform the reasons behind where people are leaving to and why.

Download the Report on research into leavers from the health and care workforce

Tameside exit questionnaire postcard

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust have developed a postcard with a QR code that takes workforce leavers to a simple exit survey with questions about why the person is leaving.

Download the Tameside exit questionnaire postcard

Useful links and resources