Glossary of HR Terms

Looking to brush up on all the latest HR acronyms, buzzwords, and common terms? This glossary is for you, sort of like the ABCs of HR. It's everything you need to know in the realm of employee experience and human connection, defined in easy-to-understand language.


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Attrition Rate

Understanding and Reducing Attrition Rate for HR

What Is Attrition Rate?

Your workforce attrition rate is an important metric for understanding changes in your organization’s employee retention. When you understand attrition and analyze the data, you’ll uncover truths about your workforce and employee experience that can improve your retention strategy.

Discover what employee attrition rate is, why it matters, and what steps you can take to minimize attrition and improve the employee experience.

Attrition Rate Meaning and Why it Matters

Attrition is the gradual decrease in an organization’s workforce due to employees leaving their jobs voluntarily or involuntarily. Attrition can result from employees retiring, resigning, or being fired or laid off. In some cases, businesses may use attrition as an opportunity to restructure job roles or reduce headcount, and they won’t replace some departing employees.

Attrition can have a significant impact on business outcomes, including a shortage of essential skills and experience. It can also be costly for your business in terms of recruiting, onboarding, and training new employees. Additionally, a high attrition rate can contribute to lower employee morale and productivity, as well as negatively affect customer service and loyalty.

How much is employee turnover costing your company? Use our calculator. 💸

How to Calculate Attrition Rate

Use the following attrition rate formula to calculate attrition in your workforce:

  • Start by dividing the number of employees who left the company during a certain period by the average number of employees during that period. 
  • The resulting number is then multiplied by 100 to get the attrition rate expressed as a percentage. 

For example, if an organization had an average of 10 employees during‌ April, but three employees left during that month, the attrition rate for April would be 30%. 

HR leaders should assess attrition regularly to help understand employee turnover. A monthly calculation can provide actionable insights and allow for timely interventions. When you know attrition is occurring or likely, you can investigate the causes and track high-risk situations. 

Coming off a company merger, for example, you’ll expect a certain amount of attrition as roles are merged or eliminated. Even though this is a planned event, you should expect a spike in your monthly and annual attrition rates while the merger process is worked through. 

As you track your attrition rate, examine it over different timespans. A monthly reading can give insights into near-term conditions, while a longer-term comparison against previous time periods helps you see past fluctuations. The key is to use attrition rate data to improve your understand of the workforce and your resulting HR decisions 

6 Factors Influencing Attrition Rate

Employees leave jobs for a variety of reasons, and understanding them can help you better manage talent. Check out some common factors that could be influencing attrition in your organization.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation and benefits are key factors that can influence employee attrition. When employees feel that their compensation and benefits aren’t competitive, they may be more likely to search for outside job opportunities. 

By contrast, paying competitive wages, offering bonuses, and providing strong benefits can help ‌employees feel valued and encourage them to stay.

Job Satisfaction

Employees who are satisfied with their job are less likely to leave, as they feel appreciated, supported, and valued. Job satisfaction often correlates with better performance, helping your organization reduce attrition and improve the bottom line simultaneously. An employee engagement survey is one way to measure your workforce’s job satisfaction and the overall company culture.

Work-Life Balance

Employees who feel they have an appropriate balance between their work and life tend to feel more engaged and productive. Having work-life balance can give employees a sense of control and ownership over their lives and careers, which can further motivate them to stay with the organization.

Without a positive work-life balance, though, employees are more likely to burn out, which can lead to poor performance and a higher risk of departure.

Manager-Employee ConnectionsRelationships

When managers have positive relationships with their employees, it can lead to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and motivation. Employees will be more likely to stay and be productive when they feel respected and appreciated by their managers. On the other hand, when managerial relationships are strained or adversarial, employees may become disenchanted and less productive. This could hurt business outcomes, possibly to the point where these employees leave and aren’t replaced.

Want to rethink the employer-employee connection in your workforce? Check out our webinar on forging connections across management levels! 🤝

Job Market Conditions

Job market conditions are a significant factor in determining how much employee attrition a business will experience. Labor shortages, for example, can make it extremely difficult for employers to hire qualified workers. In some cases, employers might resort to attrition rather than risk a bad hire.

Company Reputation and Branding

A strong company reputation can attract and retain talented employees who believe in the company’s mission and want to be part of the working environment. Companies that have strong brands are likely to acquire and retain great talent, reducing the need for attrition.

Reducing Attrition: 5 Best Practices

While attrition can be a deliberate choice, too much of it can harm employee morale, make future hiring more difficult, exacerbate skills shortages, and impact business performance. Discover five ways to lower attrition and turnover rates.

Conduct Regular Employee Surveys

Surveys can provide insight into how employees feel about their job, work environment, compensation, and other factors that can lead to employee dissatisfaction. By regularly surveying team members, HR leaders can gain a better understanding of what motivates them and what they need to stay engaged and satisfied in their role.

Offer Competitive Compensation

A competitive salary and benefits package is a powerful way for HR leaders to retain talent, drive engagement, and encourage top performance. Properly compensated employees are likely to have greater loyalty to their employer, which can reduce attrition rates.

Implement Career Development Programs

Employees who feel supported and challenged in their roles are more likely to stay with your organization. Robust career development programs help employees become more effective in their current roles and build their skills and readiness for greater responsibility. When you’re able to develop employees from within, you’re less likely to suffer from attrition caused by outdated job roles.

Strengthen Onboarding Processes

Strengthening onboarding processes can help HR leaders ‌set clear expectations for new employees, thereby reducing the likelihood of them leaving the company. Additionally, providing access to a mentor or support system can help new employees adjust more quickly.

Encourage Internal Mobility

Giving employees the opportunity to move between departments or roles can increase their job satisfaction and motivation. HIgh internal mobility gives employees more options — and prevents them from being stuck in roles that you don’t plan on replacing.

Employee Attrition Rate: Frequently Asked Questions

Before tackling employee attrition in your workforce, make sure you have the answers to these frequently asked questions.

How Does Attrition Rate Differ From Retention Rate?

Attrition rate is a measure of how many employees leave the organization over a given period, whereas retention rate is a measure of how many employees remain with the organization over a given period.

What Are Industry-Standard Attrition Rates?

Industry-standard attrition rates refer to the average percentage of employees that leave an organization in a specific industry over a time. Industries with historically high attrition rates include foodservice, hospitality, and retail.

What Is the Difference Between Attrition Rate and Turnover?

Attrition and turnover are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. Attrition is usually defined as an employee departure where the organization doesn’t plan to replace the person.

Employee turnover, on the other hand, reflects departures where the organization must hire to replace them. High staff turnover is usually seen as a negative, whereas attrition can be something that an organization does deliberately — choosing not to fill vacancies instead of making layoffs, for example.

How Can Technology Help in Monitoring and Reducing Attrition Rates?

HR analytics software can provide valuable insights into employee behavior and performance, including high-level data on employee departures, whether those positions were replaced, and why. 

How Do Voluntary and Involuntary Attrition Differ, and Should They Be Measured Separately?

Voluntary attrition is when an employee decides to quit or resign, while involuntary attrition is when the employee is forced to leave, such as through redundancy or dismissal. The underlying causes of the two types of attrition are often different, so make sure you measure each separately.

Should You Include Seasonal and Contract Workers in Attrition Rate Calculations?

Tracking attrition rates of all workers can help HR leaders identify and address any potential problems that may be causing staff to leave. However, seasonal and contract workers aren’t long-term employees, so break out those groups when looking at attrition. The decisions you make about your full-time workforce could differ greatly, especially regarding attrition rates.

Forge Connections to Reduce Employee Attrition Rates

Developing strong connections between employees can help create an engaged and supportive workplace, which can lead to lower employee attrition. Build an interconnected workforce of happy, engaged employees to maintain your workforce, and your edge.

Want to see the link between connection and retention? Check out Enboarder’s 2023 global survey: The Future of Connection at Work.