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Employee retention · 

5 minutes

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

Understand, Calculate & Improve your Attrition Rate

Maintaining an enthusiastic and dedicated workforce is crucial for every business, making employee attrition a major concern. High attrition rates can indicate underlying issues, impacting team morale, productivity, and even the company's bottom line. Let's delve into what attrition is and how to manage it effectively in your organization.

What is the Attrition Rate?

Attrition rate, often interchanged with turnover rate, is a business metric that involves the number of employees who leave a company in a given period. While 'employee leaves' may denote voluntary departure, attrition includes both voluntary and involuntary scenarios—be it retirement, termination, or job switch. Therefore, understanding your company's attrition rate is crucial for long-term strategic planning.

Attrition vs Retention

While attrition involves employees leaving, retention represents the opposite—employees choosing to stay with the company. High attrition rates can spell trouble, often indicating dissatisfaction among team members or unfavorable work conditions. On the contrary, a strong retention rate demonstrates job satisfaction and positive employee engagement, fostering company loyalty and productivity.

How to Calculate Your Attrition Rate

Calculating attrition is quite straightforward. Using the attrition rate formula, you can divide the number of employees who have left during a certain period by the average number of employees during the same period, then multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.

Attrition Rate = (Number of employees who left / Average number of employees) x 100

The average number of employees can be found by adding the number of employees at the start and end of the period and dividing by two. Remember to only count the employees who voluntarily leave (voluntary attrition) when calculating the attrition rate, as it provides a clearer picture of employee satisfaction and engagement.

10 Intriguing Facts About Employee Attrition

  • Cost Implications: Employee attrition comes with a high price tag. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that replacing a salaried employee can cost 6 to 9 months' salary on average.

  • Exit Interviews Value: Exit interviews can provide key insights into why employees leave, with one Harvard Business Review study revealing that 89% of employers mistakenly believed employees left for more money.

  • Industry Variations: Attrition rates vary significantly across industries. The tech industry, for example, has an above-average attrition rate, with a LinkedIn study showing a 13.2% average turnover rate.

  • Impact on Growth: High attrition can significantly stifle company growth. In a study by ERE Media, it was found that a company with a 12% attrition rate has a 33% chance of outperforming competitors.

  • Engagement is Essential: A lack of employee engagement can fuel attrition, with Gallup finding that businesses with low engagement scores have a 37% higher absenteeism.

  • Job Satisfaction Matters: Job satisfaction has a considerable influence on attrition rates, with a SHRM study revealing that only 37% of employees feeling very satisfied with their jobs.

  • Effective Leadership is Key: Poor management contributes significantly to high attrition rates. In fact, Gallup reports that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.

  • Work-Life Balance is Crucial: Poor work-life balance can lead to high attrition. In a survey by FlexJobs, 30% of respondents reported leaving a job due to lack of flexibility.

  • Attrition Affects Reputation: High attrition can harm your employer brand. According to a Glassdoor survey, 84% of employees would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation.

  • Mental Health Concerns: Mental health issues are a rising cause of attrition, with a Mind Share Partners survey revealing that 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Zers left jobs for mental health reasons.

What High Attrition Means for Your Business

High attrition rates may seem like just numbers, but they convey a deeper narrative about the company's health. A high attrition rate may indicate employee dissatisfaction, ineffective management, or insufficient growth opportunities. Over time, these issues can harm your company's reputation, customer experience, and even profitability.

8 Comprehensive Strategies to Improve Employee Attrition

  • Improve Hiring Practices: Enhancing hiring practices is an initial step to manage attrition. By ensuring a good job and culture fit, you can improve employee retention. The Harvard Business Review reveals that 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. It's therefore essential to have a comprehensive and effective recruitment strategy.

  • Foster a Positive Work Environment: Cultivating a healthy and inclusive work environment can significantly impact job satisfaction, reducing attrition rates. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, feeling valued is a key indicator of job performance and fulfillment, directly impacting the retention rate.

  • Offer Career Development Opportunities: Providing growth opportunities not only reduces attrition but also fosters a more skilled workforce. A LinkedIn report indicates that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.

  • Enhance Compensation and Benefits: Adequate compensation is crucial for retaining employees. A survey by PayScale indicates that 25% of employees said that compensation was their main reason for considering another job.

  • Recognize and Reward Employees: Recognition for work well done can significantly improve employee satisfaction and reduce attrition. A study by Bersin & Associates found that companies that provide ample recognition have a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate than those that don't.

  • Ensure Work-Life Balance: With the rising demand for flexible work arrangements, ensuring work-life balance has become a key retention strategy. In a FlexJobs survey, 80% of respondents said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.

  • Implement Effective Leadership: Effective leadership has a significant impact on employee attrition. Gallup research suggests that one in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career. Thus, leadership development is an essential factor in reducing attrition.

  • Seek Regular Feedback: Establishing a culture of continuous feedback can help identify potential issues before they escalate into reasons for departure. According to a study by OfficeVibe, companies that implement regular employee feedback have a 14.9% lower turnover rate. Regularly conducting employee surveys and acting on their feedback can significantly lower attrition rates.


In conclusion, managing attrition effectively is a critical aspect of maintaining a healthy, productive, and engaged workforce. Understanding the dynamics of employee attrition and its associated costs, as well as industry variations, is the first step towards curating an environment conducive to employee satisfaction and retention. Enhancing hiring practices, fostering a positive work environment, and ensuring a work-life balance can all reduce your attrition rate.

Remember, your employees are your most valuable asset. By investing in their well-being, career development, and job satisfaction, you will not only reduce attrition but also create a thriving work culture that will positively reflect on your company's performance and reputation. A dedicated focus on attrition will lead to more engaged employees, a healthier workplace, and ultimately, a more successful business.

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