What is Turnover?

Meaning & Definition


Turnover, in the context of human resources and business management, refers to the rate at which employees leave an organization and are replaced by new hires. It is a critical metric that measures the movement of personnel in and out of a company. Turnover can have a significant impact on an organization’s operations, culture, and bottom line.

Turnover is classified into several categories based on the reasons for departure:

  • Voluntary Turnover

This occurs when employees choose to leave the organization for reasons such as pursuing new career opportunities, dissatisfaction with their current role or workplace, seeking better work-life balance, or retirement. Voluntary turnover is often a sign that employees are not fully engaged or satisfied with their current employment.

  • Involuntary Turnover

Involuntary turnover refers to situations where employees are terminated or laid off by the organization due to factors like poor performance, policy violations, financial constraints, or restructuring efforts. It is a result of actions taken by the employer rather than the employee’s choice.

  • Functional Turnover

Functional turnover refers to the departure of employees whose exit is in the best interest of the organization. This can include employees who are underperforming, exhibiting disruptive behavior, or no longer aligned with the company’s goals.

  • Dysfunctional Turnover

Dysfunctional turnover is the departure of employees whose skills, knowledge, or experience are valuable to the organization. Losing these employees can negatively impact the company’s performance, and it is generally considered detrimental to the organization.

  • Internal Turnover

Internal turnover occurs when employees leave their current roles but remain within the same organization. They may transfer to different departments, teams, or locations. Internal turnover is not as disruptive as external turnover, as the organization retains the employee’s skills and experience.

Measuring and understanding turnover is crucial for organizations because it can have various consequences, including:

  • Costs

High turnover can lead to increased recruitment and training costs, as well as potential productivity losses during the transition of employees.

  • Talent Drain

Organizations risk losing experienced and skilled employees, which can affect the knowledge base and overall performance.

  • Impact on Culture

Frequent turnover can disrupt workplace culture and negatively impact team dynamics and employee morale.

  • Recruitment Challenges

High turnover can make it more challenging to attract and retain top talent, as potential candidates may be wary of unstable work environments.

  • Lost Knowledge and Expertise

Dysfunctional or voluntary turnover can result in a loss of institutional knowledge and expertise.

To address turnover, organizations often focus on improving employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention strategies. This may include offering competitive compensation and benefits, creating a positive workplace culture, providing opportunities for professional development, and addressing factors contributing to high turnover, such as poor management practices. By analyzing the reasons for turnover and implementing strategies to mitigate it, organizations can enhance their stability, productivity, and overall success.

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