Staff turnover, or the proportion of the workforce that leaves an employer each year is highly sought-after data that enables organisations to benchmark. This compilation and analysis of the key statistics will help you understand staff turnover and tenure rates in the UK. We’ve used figures from the Annual Population Survey (APS), the largest UK household survey, undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Turnover data

The average turnover - or churn - for UK workers is 36%. This splits into 28.6% who move to a new employer and 7.1% who are not working one year later (year 2), which could be due to study, retirement or long-term sickness, for example. Most employees (almost two-thirds) remain in the same organisation from one year to the next.

Three in ten UK employees leave to join another organisation each year

Average UK turnover rate (Jan 2021–Dec 2022)

The most popular request from CIPD members is for industry figures, to enable them to compare themselves to other similar organisations. This is shown in the chart below for 2021-2022. Staff attrition rates (a synonym for turnover rates) vary from 20% among extraterritorial organisations to 55% in hospitality.

Hospitality has the highest employee turnover

UK turnover by industry (Jan 2021–Dec 2022)

Turnover vs tenure

A similar benchmarking tool to turnover is tenure. This is how long someone has worked for an organisation. Turnover helps you understand the rate at which people leave while tenure helps you understand your wider workforce. The national tenure figures for 2023 are shown in the chart below.

Most common length of service is between two and five years

Tenure of UK employees (Jan–Dec 2023)

Tenure can also be broken down by industry and, as with turnover, not all industries are the same. The data on tenure is timelier than the data we have on turnover. And this picture has changed over the last couple of years. As reported in the Labour Market Outlook – Spring 2024, the proportion of employees with a tenure of less than 12 months has reverted to the pre-pandemic level of around 16%. It had risen to a high of 18% in early 2022.

Over a third in hospitality have been in role for less than a year

UK tenure by industry (Jan–Dec 2023)

But what constitutes a healthy level of churn? High turnover means you lose talent, and when certain skills are scarce, recruitment can be costly. However, if turnover is low, you risk not bringing new ideas into the organisation.

As shown in the charts above, churn differs markedly by industry. Hospitality (‘Accommodation and food services’) for example, has the highest rate of churn and the lowest tenure. It has many low-paid and lower-skilled roles, and the youngest age profile of any industry by a substantial margin. The costs in terms of training someone new, and the loss of firm-specific capital are much lower, and thus a higher churn rate is less damaging for a business. 
  
However, especially where skills are relatively scarce, recruitment is costly or employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, turnover is likely to be problematic. Employees who hold more in-demand or specialist skills, or who have developed strong relationships with customers, will be more valuable to employers and therefore more damaging for a business to lose, particularly if they move to a direct competitor. 

Why is measuring turnover important? 

People leave organisations for many reasons. There may be ‘pull’ factors such as the attraction of a new job, or ‘push’ factors, such as organisational change or a perceived lack of career development opportunities. But by monitoring turnover and understanding how it affects business performance, we can identify trends and issues to ensure employees experience good work.  

Yet, the CIPD’s Resourcing and Talent Planning Report 2022 found that only 17% of respondents calculated the cost of labour turnover and just 12% collected data to evaluate and improve retention initiatives. 

The best data here is your own. The major costs to track include:

  • administration of resignations
  • recruitment and selection costs
  • cover during the vacancy period
  • induction and training for the new employee.

Many costs consist of indirect management or administrative time, but direct costs can also be substantial where advertisements, agencies or assessment centres are used in recruitment.

For more guidance on measuring turnover and retention, as well as current labour market trends, refer to the following CIPD resources: 

Data collection method

The APS is a large household survey undertaken by the ONS. The survey covers a diverse range of topics, including personal characteristics, labour market status, work characteristics, education and health. It includes a longitudinal dataset which enables us to see what people were doing at one point in time, and what they were doing one year later.

Unfortunately, there is a lag in the longitudinal data being released, which is why this analysis uses the January 2021 – December 2022 data. The CIPD has run this analysis on four separate occasions and the results have looked similar each year.

The tenure figures used the latest available APS.

The industry categorisation uses a system known as Standard Industrial Classification (SIC).

About the author

James Cockett, Labour Market Economist

James joined CIPD in October 2022 as a Labour Market Economist. He is a quantitative analyst with experience in a variety of topics on the world of work including low pay, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), flexible working, social mobility, wellbeing, and education and skills. 
 
James uses both publicly available data, and CIPD surveys to gain insights, with a keen interest in data visualisation. Prior to joining CIPD, James was previously an Economist for the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) where he worked within the policy team undertaking labour market research and evaluations of employment programmes to support people into work. He has also led the design and analysis of several workforce surveys and has presented to several government departments and key stakeholders. James has also worked as a Consultant undertaking evaluations in the area of social policy for public sector clients.

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