The Top 10 Employee Turnover Myths


There are a lot of myths out there about employee turnover. It's viewed as the boogeyman hiding under the bed of every organization, just waiting for an opportunity to rear its ugly head.

But we're here to show that monster back under the mattress and dispel some myths about turnover. Our research and experience have uncovered a number of misconceptions that can impact the way HR teams and leadership act.


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Get the real scoop on these 10 myths so you can start sleeping easier when it comes to turnover.


Myth #1: Turnover is always bad.


In order to grow and succeed as an organization, change is needed. And sometimes that change comes in the form of voluntary (or involuntary) turnover. If you work at a glass-half-full type of organization, healthy turnover can become an opportunity for employers to develop employees (both new and tenured) who want to thrive in the organization and contribute to its new direction. And when it’s those underperforming, overpaid employees that are leaving—that’s the cherry on top.


Myth #2: Low turnover is always good.


Low turnover isn’t always something to brag about. “But wait, if we have low turnover, we must have high employee engagement.” Not necessarily. Low turnover can be a sign of organizational complacency and low employee motivation just as easily as it can be a sign of high engagement. In turn, high turnover doesn’t necessarily mean low levels of engagement—which brings me to myth #3.


Myth #3: Disengaged employees leave and engaged employees stay.


Some disengaged employees will leave their organization, but not all. Research shows that roughly 28 percent of retained employees exhibit lower levels of engagement than those who turnover. Meaning more than a quarter of current employees are more disengaged than employees who left voluntarily.

Furthermore, more than 75 percent of the exited employees in the study were contributing or engaged. Why are engaged employees leaving their organizations? Leigh Branham, Founder and CEO of Keeping the People, says are seven hidden reasons why employees leave.


Myth #4: People quit most often because of pay.


Inadequate pay is not the most common reason why employees quit. In fact, it barely ranks in the top three according to a Bamboo HR infographic. The study found that advancement and work life balance were the top two “workplace deal breakers,” followed by money in third and management a close fourth.


Myth #5: High turnover is the nature of our industry or size category, so we need to accept It.


I’m not about to argue that a national restaurant chain that employs a lot of college-bound seniors should have equal or lower turnover than a 12-employee local law firm. But I will argue that high turnover should not be overlooked because it’s “the way things are.” Turnover should be measured and compared relatively—with like organizations in your industry or size category. Once you have a gauge of how similar organizations rank, you can determine what low and high turnover looks like for your organization.


Myth #6: Managers can’t reduce turnover.


This might be one of the most commonly believed myths of them all. Managers play a huge role when it comes to reducing employee turnover. (And I don’t just mean by being the best boss ever—although, that might help.) Here a few examples of how managers can help reduce turnover:

  • Hiring Process: Smart hires result in less unhealthy turnover. Consult your managers and let them help you identify the right candidate for their team and your entire organization.
  • Day-to-Day Interactions: Short and frequent manager-employee interactions serve as an informal platform for sharing professional and personal concerns. Rely on your managers to identify potential turnover cause and address the issue before it becomes a reason to leave.
  • One-on-Ones: One-on-one GOOD sessions provide a formal setting where employees can share any and all barriers that stand in the way of success and might lead to turnover. (The second ‘O’ in GOOD sessions stands for obstacles. Get it?)
  • Gateway to Senior Leadership: An employee survey is a tool that allows senior leadership to hear the voice of its employees. But whether you survey or not, your managers can be advocates for employee voices as well. When managers share issues with senior leadership, they’re more likely to be resolved and less likely to lead to turnover.


Myth #7: Turnover costs time and money.


Turnover costs [insert insanely large number here] dollars per exited employee. And valuable time is spent interviewing, training, and retaining new hires. But it doesn’t stop there. Beyond time and money, turnover costs:

  • Valuable Customer Relationships: Long-term employees have the ability to build even stronger relationships. Worse yet, they might take their loyal client with them.
  • Productivity: Those employees had to be doing something, right?
  • Overworked Staff: The already-busy remaining employees pick up the slack until a replacement can fill the exits’ shoes.
  • Expert Knowledge: Sure, the new employee will learn how to do the job. But it takes time to be the best.


Myth #8: Turnover is about the people leaving.


Turnover isn’t always an employee’s issue (i.e. he felt like he was being micro-managed, she didn’t get along with her coworkers, or she disagreed with the company’s mission, etc.). In most cases, turnover is about the organization an employee leaves. If you analyze your social exit survey data, and see that you’re experiencing high-impact, preventable turnover, it might be time to assess your culture and people strategy.


Myth #9: New employees are most likely to turnover.


You’ve heard this myth. New employees are disloyal and likely to switch jobs at the drop of a hat if they find a better opportunity. Sure, that might be the case—especially with the flood of millennial talent who are finding the jobs they want on their own terms—but that doesn’t necessarily mean tenured employees wouldn’t do the same. In fact, 21 Employee Turnover Insights shows that tenured employees (who’ve been working at an organization one year or more), are more likely to turnover than their rookie counterparts.


Myth #10: Exiting employees won’t tell you they’re leaving.


Exiting employees are more than four times more likely to tell you they’re leaving. When comparing exited and retained employees, 21 Employee Turnover Statistics found that exited employees were likely to honestly indicate their plans before they left, via an anonymous employee survey. Exited employees were four times more likely to disagree with the following two items: 1) It would take a lot to get me to leave this organization, and 2) I would like to be working at this organization one year from today.



There you have it, the top 10 turnover myths. Are you ready to debunk these myths and find out the real reason employees are leaving in your organization? Get even more information with our free ebook, Top 5 Predictors of Employee Turnover.

New Research! Top 5 Predictors of Employee Turnover

Published January 20, 2015 | Written By Natalie Wickham