[IPAC-List] calculating turnover

Megan Paul mpaul at unl.edu
Sat Oct 14 09:51:58 EDT 2017

Thanks, to everyone, for the thoughtful replies. I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to jump in sooner. To clarify, my specific purpose at this time is to examine retention issues in a specific job. So "leaving" would be narrowed to that job (and possibly to positions, if I want to explore internal churn). I realize there are many other considerations around whether the departure was voluntary or involuntary, functional or dysfunctional, etc.

What I'm struggling with is that the numerator is about people and the denominator is about filled positions. We say the denominator is about people but since the common formula treats every head the same as another, it's not actually about people; it's really just the number of filled positions. To me, the only way it makes sense to create a rate out of the two numbers would be to make them consistent (i.e., either make the denominator about people or make the numerator about positions). Having the numerator be about people makes sense to me, at least for my purposes, so that's why I landed on the denominator as the challenge. For my purposes, I think I want to know what % of the people hired for the job left the job, so the denominator shouldn't just be a headcount.

Thanks again,

Megan E. Paul, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Center on Children, Families, and the Law
206 S. 13th Street, Suite 1000
Lincoln, NE 68588-0227

(402) 472-9812 Office
(402) 472-8412 Fax
From: IPAC-List <ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org> on behalf of Keith Poole <keith.poole at phoenix.gov>
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 11:41:44 AM
To: IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] calculating turnover

SHRM has a how-to guide but I think you have to be member to get the full breakdown.  Basically they align with the industry standard definition of taking the number of separations during a month (or year) divided by the average number of employees, multiplied by 100.   Of course there are complications they recognize and others have mentioned, such as do you use full-time equivalent or straight head count when determining the number of employees and separations, whether to count temporary workers or not, whether to count employees on leave in # of employees.

ICMA (City Managers) also has done ongoing surveys where turnover is one of the items they track over time and across agencies…it makes sense to participate in industry surveys so you get that apples to apples and they provide the definition for you.

If you devise your own definition I think it would only be good for tracking your own agency over time.

Keith Poole
Human Resources Supervisor

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From: IPAC-List [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Dennis Doverspike
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 8:00 AM
To: mhammer at 295.ca
Cc: IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] calculating turnover

I know the US Federal Government tracks turnover (and we have not even started on involuntary versus voluntary survey). Does anyone know of any other standard turnover surveys or definitions.

Dennis Doverspike

On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 8:47 PM, <mhammer at 295.ca<mailto:mhammer at 295.ca>> wrote:
What is the particular measurement objective here?  Is the desired index
for the purposes of simply calculating annual organizational staffing
needs?  Is it to determine where there are retention issues?

I would think that the manner of calculating both denominator AND
numerator would depend somewhat on the purpose of the analysis.  For
instance,one may wish to consider something a departure ONLY if the
incumbent leaves the organization entirely, but not if they simply move
from one unit to another.

Mark Hammer

> I'm exploring different ways of calculating turnover and I'm puzzled by
the typical approaches to defining the denominator. I'm starting with
> assumption that turnover is about what proportion of employees have left
the organization (or job, region, etc.). To arrive at that, it seems to
> that you need to know the number of employees that left the organization
in a given period of time, which should then be compared to the number
> employees who could have left the organization in that same time period.
Almost every recommendation or practice out there, however, includes a
denominator that is a) some form of headcounts and b) for a point in
> or multiple points in time. The most common is to create an average of
> number of employees at the beginning of the period and the number of
employees at the end of the period. I see two limitations to this
> approach: 1) counting the number of employees only gets at the number of
filled positions, regardless of who occupies them and b) data for a
> in time shouldn't substitute for data for a time period. Static
> don't represent the total number of people that could have left in a
> period. If you have 100 employees at the beginning of the year and 100
> the end of the year, the typical formula says the denominator is 100. If
50 left, the turnover rate is 50%. But if 50 left and have been
> then the total number that could have left is actually 150 (the 100 that
started and the 50 more that were hired and are still there), which is
really just a turnover rate of 30%. The only number that seems like a
truly accurate denominator would be the number of employees at the
beginning of the time period plus any new hires in the time period. The
only challenge I see with this approach is that there is a ceiling of
100%, which makes sense on the one hand (you shouldn't have more people
leaving than there are people) but can be misleading on the other, since
an annual rate of 100% turnover could have been reached in the first
quarter. To me, the solution is to qualify the number just like
> the time period within which 100% is reached.
> So, given the divide between the common practice and my logic, can folks
help me bridge the gap? What am I missing?
> Thanks in advance,
> Megan Paul
> Megan E. Paul, Ph.D.
> Research Assistant Professor
> University of Nebraska–Lincoln
> Center on Children, Families, and the Law
> 206 S. 13th Street, Suite 1000
> Lincoln, NE 68588-0227
> (402) 472-9812 Office
> (402) 472-8412 Fax
> _______________________________________________________
> IPAC-List
> IPAC-List at ipacweb.org<mailto:IPAC-List at ipacweb.org>
> https://pairlist9.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/ipac-list

IPAC-List at ipacweb.org<mailto:IPAC-List at ipacweb.org>

Dennis Doverspike, PhD., ABPP
dennisdoverspike at gmail.com<mailto:dennisdoverspike at gmail.com>

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