Significance of Attrition Rates: Enhancing Employee Retention

Knowing how to calculate attrition rates is a valuable skill for businesses seeking to monitor employee retention, manage hiring expenses, and expand their customer base. Attrition rates can be computed on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis to gauge progress. In this article, Recruitery delves into the concept of what is attrition rates and provides guidance on their calculation.


What is an attrition rate?

An attrition rate is a quantitative measure that assesses the loss of employees or customers within a specific timeframe, without replacements. It is typically represented as a percentage relative to the overall workforce or customer pool. 

In human resources, attrition rates are frequently employed to identify vacant or eliminated positions. For marketing and sales teams, a customer attrition rate serves as a tool to pinpoint opportunities for enhancing marketing and advertising strategies. This article focuses on the human resource aspect.

What is an employee attrition rate?

Also known as a churn rate, employee attrition occurs when a person leaves their position, and the company doesn't replace them. It can have both positive and negative effects. On the upside, it saves staffing costs, but it can also burden other team members with additional responsibilities.

Why Attrition Rates Matter?

Now that we've defined attrition rates, let's delve into their significance. Simply put, attrition rates provide critical insights for HR leaders, primarily concerning the number of departures from an organization.

A certain level of attrition is considered normal and expected in any organization. However, abnormally high attrition rates may signal underlying issues in your people strategy. Losing valuable employees, particularly when replacing them proves challenging, can hinder your operational efficiency and impede your pursuit of business goals.

It's worth noting that attrition is not only disruptive but also costly. Some estimates suggest that replacing an employee can cost as much as six to nine months' worth of their salary.


Common Factors Behind Employee Attrition

Discovering the root causes of attrition enables companies to enhance employee engagement and customer appeal. Below are common attrition causes for both employees and customers:

  • Resignation

  • Promotion

  • Termination

  • Personal reasons

  • Retirement

Categories of Employee Attrition

Familiarizing yourself with the various types of employee attrition can assist in identifying areas where employees are departing and pinpointing the need for enhanced engagement strategies. 

The primary types of employee attrition include:

  • Voluntary Attrition: Occurs when an employee voluntarily chooses to leave the company. Reasons can range from personal factors, like family responsibilities, to pursuing a higher-paying job elsewhere.

  • Involuntary Attrition: Happens when the company initiates the termination of employment. Often aimed at reducing staffing costs or eliminating positions that are no longer necessary.

  • External Attrition: Takes place when an employee departs to work for another company. Reasons may include career alignment or a more convenient commute.

  • Internal Attrition: Involves employees who transition to a different role within the same company. This can entail moving to another department or receiving a promotion


Calculating an Attrition Rate: Step by Step

Many companies rely on specialized software to compute attrition rates, but grasping the attrition formula can provide a deeper understanding of the numerical percentages. Companies typically calculate attrition rates on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. 

Employee attrition rates often deal with exact figures, while determining customer attrition may involve additional research and approximations. Here's a breakdown of the process for calculating employee attrition rates:

  • Begin with the initial number of employees at the beginning of the period.

  • Identify the number of employees who departed during that period.

  • Determine how many new employees were hired during the same timeframe.

  • Combine the number of employees who left with the new hires to find the final employee count.

  • Calculate the average number of employees by adding the initial and final figures and dividing by two.

  • Divide the employee average by the number of employees who left to arrive at the decimal attrition rate.

  • Multiply the decimal by 100 to express the attrition rate as a percentage.

What Employee Attrition Rates Reveal About Your Business?

Attrition isn't inherently negative; it can result from factors like retirement, layoffs, and voluntary resignations. A resilient company can absorb minor workforce reductions without rushing to replace staff immediately.

However, when your organization consistently experiences high attrition rates, it may indicate deeper concerns related to management, employee experience, and company culture. While this realization can be challenging to accept, it presents an opportunity for HR professionals to enhance the organization's overall health and effectiveness.

How to Mitigate High Attrition Rates

HR leaders can help their organizations manage attrition effectively by implementing these strategies:

Embrace Versatile Employment Models

  • Tailor employment plans to align with the company's and individuals' needs.

  • Research and gather data to accommodate various types of employment, such as full-time, contingent workers, or independent contractors.

Retain Key Personnel

  • Identify influential individuals crucial to the company's growth.

  • Engage and retain them through competitive compensation packages, opportunities for personal and professional development, and a company culture built on trust, appreciation, and respect.


Implement a Positive Offboarding Program

  • Create an offboarding program that allows departing employees to leave on amicable terms.

  • Show appreciation and offer well-wishes for their future endeavors, reinforcing the company's integrity and fostering positive ex-employee ambassadors.

Foster a 'Return-Friendly' Environment

  • Work with management and executives to establish policies and a company culture that encourages the return of former employees.

  • Boomerang employees can bring back valuable knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to contribute to the organization's success



Employee attrition is an inherent aspect of the employee lifecycle. High attrition rates signal opportunities for growth rather than indicating wrongdoing. Addressing the underlying causes of attrition empowers you to maintain a resilient business in the face of employee departures. Recruitery trusts that this article has provided you with valuable insights into what is attrition rates, allowing you to formulate a strategic plan for your business.