5 Employee Retention Metrics You Need to Measure

Monday, June 8, 2020

To improve employee retention, you first need a clear picture of things like staff turnover and workforce satisfaction, which means having the right metrics.

Article 4 Minutes

When valuable talent is in short supply, employee retention needs to be a top priority for businesses.

There are some compelling reasons why it's important to maintain a low level of staff turnover and keep your most productive employees onboard:

  • Hiring new employees to replace leavers is expensive, with the costs of recruitment, training and potential lapses in productivity all having to be considered.
  • Key members of staff leaving can create disruption for your customers and stress for other workers who are affected by the departure.
  • Onboarding, integrating and supporting new employees eats up a lot of valuable time and resources for the HR department.

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If improving employee retention is one of your key goals at the moment, you need to have a clear understanding of how you're already performing, and for that you need the right metrics.

1. Retention

Starting with the fundamentals, it's vital to have an accurate, data-driven idea of your retention rate. This is relatively simple to calculate; divide the number of employees that have stayed for the whole time period by the number of employees at the start of that time period, then multiply by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

Average retention rates vary across industries and job types (the retail and restaurant sectors tend to have low retention, for example), so it's worth doing some research into what would be an acceptable figure for your organization.

Your ideal retention rates will also be defined by factors that are specific to your business, such as the company's past track record in these areas and your internal promotion rate.

2. Retention rate per manager

Measuring retention rate per manager can give you a more specific picture that supports and informs your efforts to reduce staff churn across the business as a whole.

If you find that certain managers have a particularly high retention rate, you can be fairly confident the way those individuals work and engage with their teams is helping to keep people onboard.

Conversely, low retention rates could be a warning sign that these leaders are struggling to build strong relationships with their employees. By comparing the working styles of managers with high retention rates to those who are falling short, you can draw conclusions about which methods are resonating with employees and helping to keep turnover down.

3. Turnover (voluntary and involuntary)

Turnover is calculated by dividing the number of people who leave during a given period by the average number of total employees and multiplying by 100.

It's important to analyze your turnover for a more accurate idea of what’s going on, and one way to do this is by tracking both voluntary and involuntary turnover.

A high rate of voluntary turnover means that an unsustainable number of people are choosing to leave the company, which you can take as a sign that some elements of the experience you're offering as an employer - which could be anything from pay and benefits to workplace atmosphere and culture - need to improve. Conducting exit interviews and asking people why they chose to leave can help you identify common problems.

If you have a high rate of involuntary turnover - in other words you often have to fire people or lay them off - it could be a sign that your recruitment practices aren't up to standard and you're hiring people that aren't the right fit.

4. Talent turnover

Another way to get a more nuanced view of turnover in your organization is by looking at talent turnover. This refers to the proportion of your high-performing, high-potential employees (in other words the ones you really want to keep) who are leaving.

This could be one of the most important retention metrics of all, because it helps you make a data-based judgment on something that could be a major problem for the organization. No business can succeed and grow if it's unable to retain its most competent and productive employees.

You want to keep your talent turnover rate to an absolute minimum, so if it starts to creep up, it's time to think about talent retention strategies that will encourage your most valuable employees to stay with you.

5. Employee satisfaction

Measuring employee satisfaction is a go-to metric, since engaged and happy employees are much more likely to not only stay with you, but be motivated to do their best for the company and help it grow.

You need to decide how you will measure workforce satisfaction. Two of the most common approaches include conducting staff surveys and collecting net promoter scores, which give an indication of how likely your employees are to recommend you to others.

It's a good idea to start measuring satisfaction levels as early as possible. Surveying new recruits will help you judge how effectively you're integrating people into the workforce and how quickly new arrivals settle in.

By being proactive where employee satisfaction is concerned, you can identify and resolve issues that could otherwise grow into major problems.

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