Staff Turnover
Average Industry Turnover Rates, and why they happen
- Jun 28, 2018

Average Industry Turnover Rates, and why they happen by Jason Morris, originally published on e-days. 

High employee turnover rates are by no means ideal for a business. Not only do they tend to bring with them some pretty negative connotations – for prospective clients and future employees, they might see it as a sign of a poor work environment or culture, it can also mean significant spend on recruitment for the business itself. Turnover can cost a business around 33% of its employees’ compensation package, including wages and benefits.

With that in mind, e-days took a look at statistics on how turnover rates compare across various industries in the UK and the US, to get an idea of which industries have high and low turnover, and reasons that might be.

Before we get into that, let’s examine some of the reasons there might be for high employee turnover.


Why Employees Leave

– Not the right culture fit – employees may feel that their personality or work style does not mesh with that of the business or their coworkers.

– Unhealthy work environment – unfortunately, some businesses are guilty of not providing a work environment which meets regulatory standards.

– Below-average compensation – an employee may feel (whether rightly or wrongly) that they are not being compensated enough for their role.

– Lack of progression – an employee may feel that they are not being given the opportunities to progress they deserve. This may be down to the employee themselves, but also to poor people management and a lack of structure to support progression and development.

– Poor management – having the wrong person in charge of a team can lead to poor culture and poor productivity. Managers who play favourites, don’t trust their employees with responsibility or use them to shift blame will almost certainly drive up turnover rates.


Looking at turnover rates by industry

To get more of an insight into why employees leave certain jobs more frequently, we looked at some statistics on attrition/turnover rates in different industries, and some of the reasons behind the higher numbers and the lower ones.


2017 average turnover rates in the UK by occupational group
Occupational Group Average Turnover Rate (%)
Distribution 13.5
Engineers 4.9
Engineer Technicians 10.1
Financial Staff 9.5
General Management and Admin Staff 3.1
HR Staff 12.0
Publishing and Events Staff 17.7
Sales and Marketing Staff 9.2
Education Staff (Academic) 11.5
Education Staff (Non-Academic) 10.2
Housing Sector Staff 11.6
Technology Staff 6.8
Voluntary Sector Staff 10.9

Source: XpertHR


In the UK, we can see that Publishing and Events is the sector with the highest turnover, by a fair margin. Perhaps this is down to the project-based nature of the work in this sector – employees stick around to complete particular projects, build up their portfolio and move on.

HR also has a relatively high turnover rate, along with Distribution and Education (Academic). The sector with the lowest turnover is General Management and Admin – perhaps because this is less career-motivated work, and employees are more likely to stay with one particular company and work their way up rather than looking around for new opportunities.


Sectors with the highest turnover rates in the US today:
Sector Average Turnover Rate (%)
Staffing 352
Hotels 60-300
Supermarkets 100
Fast Food (or QSR) 100
Retail 59


These are the industries which see the highest turnover rates in the US. The higher numbers here are most likely down to temporary and contract work – particularly in the Staffing and Hotels sector.

In Supermarkets and Fast Food, which share the same average turnover rate of 100%, this could again be down to temporary staff used to cover holidays (Christmas staff for example) as well as a tendency for those sectors to attract younger staff who move on after high school or college.

As these numbers show – high levels of turnover in a particular industry or a particular business can often be explained by the nature of the work or the structure of the business. Staff turnover, however high, can also present some opportunities to a business.


Company Culture


How to work staff turnover to your advantage

Improve your talent – attrition can mean getting rid of employees who are not willing to progress or excel in their roles, making way for fresh, high-performing individuals.

Review costs – you may be spending a fair amount on labour without realising it. Employee turnover presents the opportunity to re-examine costs, and determining your most valuable employees from your most costly ones, who yield little return.

Broaden your perspective – turnover brings with it the opportunity to seek out and bring in fresh talent in the industry – people who think slightly different and bring a new and innovative perspective to the business.

Stay competitive – bringing in new and newly trained employees allows you to adapt to changes, new trends, and technologies in your industry.

This article was written and published by e-days.

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