Turnover Reports – an Essential Power Tool

Written on:March 3, 2010
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A Turnover Report is a Power Tool and can be invaluable in helping you with long-, medium-, and short-term goals and planning.  It helps you strategically and tactically.

Go after dollars – the cost of turnover is often overlooked.

Go here for a sample Turnover Report.

Turnover Reports are Power Tools.  If you don’t routinely get and use this report, you may be missing out on great insights about your employees, your leaders, programs and costs.

Some background.  Turnover is a measure of the rate at which your company gains or loses staff.  Generally, “turnover rate” refers to the percentage of employees who leave in any given period of time, as compared to the average number of employees in that same time period.  “Retention rate” can be thought of as the converse of turnover, being the number of employees who are retained, who stay with you, during a given period of time.

The data from a routinely produced and trended report can be used to:

  • support short-term operational issues
  • support long-term strategic ones
  • control costs
  • assess performance
  • spot positive or negative trends
  • validate outcomes
  • anticipate issues
  • determine areas for interventions
  • spot compliance concerns
  • protect against legal or discriminatory issues.

Many HRIS and Payroll systems produce turnover reports – often times these reports don’t have enough detail to be fully useful, or they have so much detail they are hard to use.  A good turnover report will have enough detail for you to pick and choose different views of the data.  This is critical when using these reports.

I can share with you my preferences.  I like to build a turnover data set that can be parsed and queried.  This allows the user to get answers to specific questions.  A summary report can be generated, which usually gives rise to many other questions.  The data set can then be used to answer these questions.

Access to grouping data allows for flexible “what if” analysis.

The data set should allow for employee data to be grouped in various ways:  by age; by seniority; by tenure (to the month in some cases); by key job groups; by EEO code and Category; by work area; by department; by manager; by senior leader; by subsidiary (if multiple companies or business units are supported); by pay band; by performance program; by benefit plan; by union affiliation (if applicable).  Other criteria can also be added depending its availability and how your company or system is structured.

You can see from the list above that this is too much to include in one report.  A summary report should show high level trends.  I prefer to pull data each pay period – this gives a good level of granularity – and to produce a summary report each month to share with leaders.  A detailed report may be a dozen or more pages – while a high level summary report need not exceed a handful of pages.

Leaders can use this report to formulate other questions which may need further analysis.  They should also use this report along with other data and observations regarding the performance of individual work areas and specific managers.  The turnover report should not be used as “evidence” of a managerial problem or issue, but as an indicator – the turnover data points out to us where we need to further explore to find out what is going on.  What do we like (we retain lots of employees) and what don’t we like (too many employees are leaving).

HR recruitment should also be using the turnover data much more routinely.  After all, the recruiters have a unique position in that they are directly connected line managers and employees by way of the hiring process.  The turnover data can help us validate otherwise anecdotal findings – the most common being “so and so is a difficult manager – staff are always leaving that unit”.  Does the turnover data support this?  Does the data help us understand other factors that might be in play?

HR staff who work with longer cycle programs, such as compensation and benefits, also benefit from using turnover reports – clearly, a pay period to pay period view is less important to them than a quarter to quarter or year over year view.  Coupled with good data capture around why employees leave, the data is an invaluable asset in plan management.

For staff who work with people issues, programs, plans and offerings turnover data is invaluable.  This includes HR practitioners, and all leadership levels within all operating units of your company.

If you are not routinely sharing or using a Turnover Report Power Tool within your organization you may be missing out.

And, what about the costs of turnover?  That will be covered in a different post – but you may be amazed at the numbers.

I have seen many organizations agonize over $10,000 dollar expense or capital items – and ignore one or two percentage points on turnover, which may have been worth $100,000 or more.

The costs of turnover are frequently hidden, not easily seen or understood, not easily reported – nevertheless, it is a very real cost and it hits your bottom line.

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