Small Business Advice

What is staff turnover and how do you calculate it?

09 Apr 2019

Recognising that you have a problem is often the first and most important step to solving it. But with so much else to keep track of in a small business, it can be difficult to identify staff turnover as an issue.


This all changes when you are able to quantify your staff turnover rate and better understand the state of your business.


Here, our team of accountants explore what staff turnover is, its causes and solutions, and how to calculate your staff turnover rate.

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What is staff turnover?

Staff turnover is the number or percentage of employees leaving your organisation during a certain period.


Particularly high or low staff turnover generally indicates that you need to make some changes within the business.


Companies tend to assess employee turnover on a monthly or annual basis, but you can choose whichever time period is most useful to your business.


High or low staff turnover often means you need to make some changes.


You can express staff turnover in different ways. It’s often helpful to represent it as a percentage of your total workforce.


Alternatively, you could simply represent it as the number of employees who left in that time period.


What’s more, categorising staff turnover as voluntary/involuntary and desirable/undesirable will help to produce useful insights into staff retention.


Analysing the turnover rate of employees leaving before 12 months also helps to indicate whether retention is an issue or not.


You may hear the terms staff turnover and staff attrition used interchangeably.


They are actually two different things. Staff attrition occurs when you do not fill a position with a new employee.


It also occurs naturally, when you lose employees due to personal health, retirement, resignation or eliminating a position, for example.


How do you calculate staff turnover?

For such a useful figure, the good news is that it’s fairly easy to calculate your staff turnover rate. Here’s how you can work it out by month or by year, with some examples.


Let’s use January as an example.


  1. Add the number of staff you had at the beginning of January to the number of staff at the end of January

  2. Divide that number by two. You now have the average number of employees in January

  3. Divide the total number of leavers in January by the average number of employees in January

  4. Multiply that number by 100. You now have your January staff turnover as a percentage


Now let’s say four of your 202 employees decided to leave in January.


  1.  Add 202 to 198 = 400

  2.  Divide 400 by 2 = 200

  3.  Divide 4 by 200 = 0.02

  4.  Multiply 0.02 by 100 = 2%


Calculate staff turnover by year

The calculation for annual staff turnover is the same. Here’s 2018 as an example:


  1. Add the number of staff you had at the beginning of 2018 to the number of staff at the end of 2018

  2. Divide that number by two. This is your average number of employees in 2018

  3. Divide the total number of leavers by the average number of employees

  4. Multiply that number by 100. You now have your 2018 staff turnover as a percentage


Now let’s say five of your employees decided to leave in 2018. You had 45 employees at the beginning of 2018, and 55 at the end.


  1.  Add 45 to 55 = 100

  2.  Divide 100 by 2 = 50

  3.  Divide 5 by 50 = 0.1

  4.  Multiply 0.1 by 100 = 10%

Keir Wright-Whyte

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Managing Director

0207 043 4000

About the author

Originally graduating with a degree in geography from Edinburgh University, Keir claims that he was then tricked into becoming an accountant by one of the UK's top 5 accountancy practices.The deception extended to the usual training in audit and associated activities.

Keir subsequently worked in a number of advisory roles with clients including in the energy trading, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

He loves working at Accounts & Legal because of the variety of work and clients, the excellent team ethos and morale, the importance placed on genuinely helping and being useful for clients and because he believes what he does matters to clients and helps the firm.

Keir's primary role is to ensure that new clients with complex businesses or needs are on-boarded in the best way and he is a "trouble shooter" both for clients and where complex issues arise internally. He also helps the accounting teams strive to improve what we do for clients, whether processes or services.

When not debiting or crediting, Keir has a penchant for fixing old buildings, skiing, surfing and cycling.

  

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