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How to calculate your employee retention rate

HR • May 17, 2023 at 9:19 AM • Written by: Elizabeth Walker

As an employer, you likely already know attracting and retaining top talent is crucial for your company’s continued growth and success. Losing employees can mean losing valuable team knowledge, lowering workplace morale, and decreasing employee productivity.

Employee retention is a priority for many companies, but can be especially critical for small employers that rely on limited staff to keep their business running. By tracking your retention, you’ll have a benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of human resources (HR) programs, driving positive business outcomes, and developing strategies to keep top talent from quitting.

This blog provides an overview of how to calculate your employee retention rate, why employee retention matters, and best practices to improve the retention rate at your organization.

Find out how you can boost your employee retention rate with fringe benefits


What does retention rate mean?

An employee retention rate measures the percentage of employees that stay at your company over a specific period of time. It complements your turnover rate, or churn rate, providing a more complete view of employee transition than calculating either metric alone.

Turnover rate and retention rate are often used interchangeably, but the two aren’t the same. Retention rates are the rates of employees staying, while turnover rate is the rate at which employees leave.

In later sections, we’ll go over how you can easily calculate the employee retention rate at your organization. But remember that this simple calculation is more than just a data point.

Your retention rate helps you understand whether your organization provides a positive employee experience that retains a stable workforce. It also helps you uncover whether your organization motivates and engages your staff.

By comparing retention rates over a set time period, you can examine what your employees are missing and make the necessary adjustments to their experience.

Why is employee retention important for business owners?

Your talent is your organization’s most valuable asset. Without it, you won’t be able to achieve your business goals or drive initiatives to maintain a successful business. That’s why employee retention should be one of your top concerns.

Employee turnover disrupts the flow and success of a functioning business. For example—not counting layoffs or other types of involuntary termination—a whopping 50.5 million people1 quit their jobs in 2022. When employees quit, they leave a knowledge gap, creating more work for the remaining team members.

Being familiar with your employee retention rate can help you identify any problems so you can implement retention strategies to mitigate a high churn rate.

A successful employee retention rate can also lead to:

  • Reduced company costs: Studies show that the average cost for replacing an employee is about 6 to 9 months’ salary, so improving retention rates can reduce overall turnover costs.
  • Increased employee productivity: The longer employees stay at your company, the more productive they become. A high annual turnover rate can lead to reduced efficiency and lower productivity.
  • Improved employee engagement: Analyzing your average employee retention rate on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis helps you measure the impact of your employee engagement initiatives, thus helping you build a more positive company culture and increase employee morale.

Looking at internal data and comparing retention rates allows you to make smarter strategic moves ahead of time to make your organization more successful. While some turnover is inevitable, the more engaged employees you have, the less likely they will be to leave your company.

How to calculate your employee retention rate

Employee retention rate calculations provide a reference point when determining how your organization compares to others. That’s why calculating it should be a regular exercise to see where you stand during a period of time.

Various calculations can be used, but a sample retention rate formula is below:

(Number of employees at the end of a set time period / the number of employees at the start of a set time period) x 100 = retention rate percentage.

The following table shows an example of the basic formula in practice:

Number of employees at the end of a month

Number of employees at the beginning of a month

Number of employees at the end of a month / the number of employees at the beginning of a month

X 100

Retention rate percentage






When calculating your employee retention rate, it’s important to outline a timeframe that you would like to measure so you can easily compare it to future data of the same timeframe.

You can also separate your calculations by voluntary and involuntary turnover. This allows you to compare the percentage of terminated staff members to the percentage of employees who left your organization by choice and factor that into your retention strategy.

What is a good employee retention rate?

Generally, an average retention rate of 90% or higher is what to aim for, meaning a company will want an average employee turnover rate of 10% or less.

In 2022, the average turnover rate2 was around 9.3%. But this varies by industry, location, and job type. Industries with the highest retention rates include government, finance, insurance, and education, while the lowest rates are in the food, retail, and hospitality industry.

However, a very high retention rate, like 99%, may not always be the best. Some turnover is helpful to carve out career paths for high-performing employees within the organization or to bring in external talent.

You may also want to terminate low-performing or average employees through involuntary turnover to make your company more productive and efficient.

Best practices to improve your employee retention rate

Now that we’ve covered why employee retention is necessary and how to calculate it, let's talk about what you can do to retain valuable employees at your organization.

Below we’ve highlighted a few ways to improve your retention rate and create a more positive work environment.

Value your employees and trust their judgment

In the same way you promote the value of your products to potential and current customers, you should do the same with your employees. As an employer, expressing how valuable your employees are to you and your organization can instill feelings of inclusivity and pride that can help your employees feel like working at your company is a unique opportunity.

Outstanding employees will stay at their job if they trust leadership and leadership trusts them. Individuals tend to be passionate about the things they’ve helped create and grow. The more you engage your employees in your organization, the more emotionally invested they become, and the more likely they are to stay.

Give employees responsibility and challenge them to make a difference

Another effective employee retention strategy is to give your staff greater visibility and accountability for the processes and initiatives necessary for success.

This starts with employee career development opportunities and continues with regular company updates on critical metrics like profits, revenue, and product; and details on how their personal efforts directly impact the business.

The employees you’re trying to hire and retain have unique talents, skills, and drive. It’s essential to clarify that what they do benefits the company in a critical way.

A transparent company culture that is empowering, supportive, and honest will likely raise your overall employee retention rate.

Provide competitive compensation and reward personal contributions

Even if you implement all the strategies above, a good employee who is underpaid will look at offers from other employers who will pay them more, especially if the position is similar to yours.

It’s essential to stay on top of industry averages and your competitors' compensation. Don’t forget to consider updating your benefits and perks package to remain attractive in today’s competitive market as well.

Additionally, successful companies reward employees who go above and beyond. Recognizing the efforts of your employees goes a long way toward improving their morale and increasing company loyalty.

There are many ways to show recognition, from office parties and recognition awards to bonuses and promotions. Whatever you choose, current employees need to feel that their employer appreciates their efforts.


In today’s tight labor market, hiring outstanding employees is increasingly challenging. That’s why keeping them on board should be a priority. While losing some employees is unavoidable, staying mindful of the core issues that can improve retention can go a long way toward job satisfaction.

Offering a competitive benefits package while monitoring your employee retention rate is a great way to help your business stay on the right track. If you want to boost your organization’s benefits package, contact us to learn which personalized employee benefits you can leverage to improve your overall retention.

This article was originally published on July 28, 2020. It was last updated on May 17, 2023.

1. https://www.cnbc.com/2023/02/01/why-2022-was-the-real-year-of-the-great-resignation.html

2. https://www.praisidio.com/turnover-rates

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Elizabeth Walker

Elizabeth Walker is a content marketing specialist at PeopleKeep. She has worked for the company since April 2021. Elizabeth has been a writer for more than 20 years and has written several poems and short stories, in addition to publishing two children’s books in 2019 and 2021. Her background as a musician and love of the arts continues to inspire her writing and strengthens her ability to be creative.