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The State of Employee Turnover in 2023


Recently, we told you about the dangers of employee burnout.

However, the frequency of burnout isn’t the only cause for concern among employers today. Across industries, countless companies are also contending with record-high employee turnover rates. According to the latest findings, nearly 73% of employees are currently open to new career opportunities — and 33% are actively looking for new jobs.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, there are plenty of companies where employees are not only far less likely to quit, but also have a hard time imagining working anywhere else.

So, what is it that separates the work cultures with low turnover from those that struggle to retain staff? To find some answers, let’s take a look at three of the latest employee turnover trends.

The biggest causes of employee turnover are avoidable

There are a lot of reasons people leave companies. They may decide it’s time to relocate or retire. Or, in some instances, the departure could be the result of an involuntary decision to leave.

More often than not, however, employee turnover is the result of some surprisingly preventable causes. According to 2019 Work Institute research, more than three in four employees who quit could have been retained by employers. Out of every 100 workers:

  • 22 leave for professional development
  • 12 leave for work-life balance
  • 11 out of 100 leave in response to manager behavior

According to the report’s authors, these and other factors have led to a 7.6% increase in voluntary turnover since 2017 — a trend that’s adding “significant operational cost to companies, compromising growth and profit.”

Here’s the real kicker: Even seemingly loyal employees are at risk.

In recent research for 15five’s employee engagement trends report, we found that employees are most at risk when they become disengaged — a problem that can plague even the most loyal, longstanding staff if they run into issues with relationships, rest, and other key drivers.

Among those who have been with their current employers for 10 or more years, for example, 63% were open to new opportunities.

And those new rockstar employees you recently recruited? They’re an even higher turnover risk: 77% of people who have been at their current employer for less than a year are open to new opportunities. Nearly 45% are already actively looking!

Staff retention challenges are costing companies A LOT

If your company isn’t already taking employee retention seriously, it should be — if for no other reason than to keep the business profitable. U.S. companies are currently losing a trillion dollars each year to voluntary turnover.

Yes, you read that right. A trillion dollars.

When an individual leaves, it costs the company 33% of that person’s annual salary to find a suitable replacement. So the 165-person organization with an average salary of $45,000 could suffer replacement costs of $2.5 million in a single year.

The worst part? Surveys show that more than half of employees who leave voluntarily feel their manager or organization could have done something to keep them from leaving.

The trick to keeping employees around for the long haul

Despite the dire numbers, there is a proven way to improve and even reverse retention issues. It’s a best practice that many organizations overlook, and yet it has the power to transform how employees view their employers.

So… how do you figure out what will make people want to stay?

You ask.

You see, a lot of organizations wait until the exit interview to solicit employee feedback. Whether by design or oversight, this is a grave mistake. By the time you find out what went wrong, staff has already made an irreversible decision to leave. By getting answers to important questions before an employee starts to look elsewhere, you can uncover what needs to happen to make the work environment as engaging and meaningful as possible.

How you choose to collect that feedback will depend on the unique needs of your workforce and culture. The most important thing is that you take the information you’re given to heart. We’ve seen companies reduce turnover 50% and increase profits 24% after asking for (and acting on) employee feedback.

In each of these cases, reducing churn started with a solid employee engagement strategy. How do you identify the current turnover risk within your own organization? How can you determine what employees need to feel empowered, engaged, and excited to stay? Get The HR Leader’s Guide to Reducing Regrettable Turnover to dive deeper into these questions and more.