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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee Turnover

What is Employee Turnover?

Employee turnover, or employee turnover rate, is the measurement of the number of employees who leave an organization during a specified time period, typically one year. While an organization usually measures the total number of employees who leave, turnover can also apply to subcategories within an organization like individual departments or demographic groups.

Voluntary Turnover vs Involuntary Turnover

Voluntary turnover is any instance in which an employee actively chooses to leave an organization. This can happen as a result of better job opportunities elsewhere, conflict within the workplace, disengagement, and more.

Involuntary turnover is when an employer chooses to terminate an employee, possibly because of poor performance, toxic behavior, or other reasons.

While low employee turnover is the goal for most organizations, what constitutes low vs. high turnover can change depending on industry, job type, company size, region, and more. For example, a fast food restaurant will likely have a higher average turnover rate than an insurance company. Because of the many variables affecting turnover, benchmarks for acceptable or ideal turnover vary. It’s important for organizations to take individual and industry-related factors into account as they pinpoint their target turnover rate, study the reasons behind their voluntary and involuntary turnover, and make changes to decrease the employee turnover rate and improve retention for their own workforce.

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