Voluntary Turnover; Causes And How To Prevent Them

Employees are the life-blood of every organization, as an organization’s level of success is tied directly to its staff. That is the reason why companies do all they can to attract the best talents in the industry. After going through so much trouble to hire them, it’d be unfortunate to see them leave. Employee voluntary turnover is a situation that every organization dreads, especially when it is high. It’s costly, time-consuming, and it can destroy the morale of other staff members.

Employee turnover or employee turnover rate measures the number or percentage of employees that leave an organization within a specified period, usually a year. In terms of how to calculate and monitor employee turnover, organizations divide the total number of leavers by the average number of employees in a month. The result of this is then multiplied by 100 to get the employee turnover rate.

Employees can leave voluntarily or involuntarily. Any kind of high turnover rate is bad for organizations. But, the real menace is voluntary turnover. A high level of voluntary turnover of employees reflects poorly on an organization.

To outsiders, a high rate of voluntary turnover is an indication that the organization has some problems, which is causing its workers to leave. This situation makes it difficult for organizations to find replacements. Even when they do, they might not be outstanding and could be unmotivated because of the notion of a pre-existing underlying problem.

You might also be interested to read: 4 Positive Practices For Employee Engagement During Lockdown

The downside of employee turnover for companies is enormous. To prevent a high rate of voluntary turnover of their employees, organizations have to know what is making their employees leave. While the causes of voluntary turnover vary across industries and organizations, some reasons for voluntary turnover cuts across companies. 

Some of key reasons for voluntary turnover are:

Toxic culture

Society is changing rapidly. To grow and develop per the demands of the environment, companies define their values, mission, and goals. Doing this helps them create a sense of who they are and what they stand for. Another objective for which organizations do this is to develop motivation and commitment. With this, an organization sets a tone that displays its culture and aims at increasing performance at the workplace.

However, a poor cultural fit is the most common reason for employee turnover. In an attempt to create an identity and bolster performance, organizations can create a workplace culture that doesn’t fit its employees. This situation creates a toxic environment in the workplace; thereby, destroying employee morale and increasing the incidence of voluntary turnover. 

Toxic culture in the workplace is one of the difficult problems to solve. And this is so because organizational leaders fail to address the cause of the problem – the refusal to acknowledge the signs of cultural toxicity. To address the challenge, leaders must accept that the culture of the organization isn’t favorable for employees.

They can use a regular comprehensive culture audit to identify common issues, track their origins, and start making changes that would reduce the voluntary turnover of employees. The leadership of companies must create an environment that encourages employees to communicate. Only through this would they be able to understand the reason behind voluntary employee turnovers.

Lack of purpose or meaning

When there’s no sense of direction or purpose within an organization, employees tend to become less motivated. If employees don’t find purpose in what they do, their performance levels reduce, and so does cohesiveness within teams. And this can lead to an increase in employee turnover. 

Employees don’t need a saving-the-planet-like project to find meaning. Anything as simple as a shared vision or working towards a common goal that increases employee engagement would do. But it’s difficult to find this within some organizations as most don’t know how to create a culture of meaningful work. All of these are reasons why employees leave.

To tackle this problem, the organization needs to communicate its goals and objectives. Management must help employees see the big picture while helping the employees understand how their efforts contribute to making this a reality. This environment would bring a fresh air of transparency to the workplace. But aside from that, it’d create a shared vision and a sense of purpose.

In addition to communication, leaders must also acknowledge the roles of employees in achieving the organization’s objective. Publicly recognizing both individual and team efforts will increase morale and commitment among employees. Both of which are prerequisites for reducing employee turnover.


A survey carried out by Kronos Incorporated reported that 69% of Indians would prefer to work at the same wage rate for five days a week instead of six days. In global terms, 28% of workers would take this option if offered. Also, according to the survey, 44% of Indians work for at least 40 hours a week. All of these are indicators that employees are overworked.

When employees are overworked, it makes them susceptible to illness, burnouts, depression, absenteeism, and under-productivity. In this situation, employees would swiftly jump on any alternatives that promise less work even if the pay is smaller compared to their current job.

To know if employees are overworked, managers should look out for signs such as working late, working all day, and working on weekends. Organizations must determine the reason for this situation, which could be the dearth of resources, unrealistic deadlines, and a lack of adequate employee training programs. Addressing the causes of overworking employees would reduce the level of employee turnover.


Employees can grow bored due to a lack of purpose. It can also be that employees don’t find their work challenging because their capabilities are being underused. Or it could arise as a result of a mismatch between their interests, the type of work they do, or the company they work for. In some cases, bored employees are more stressed than overworked employees. Whatever the cause, when employees get bored, it leads to voluntary turnover.

To prevent this, managers must identify what makes employees grow bored. Depending on what the reasons are, they can design a series of strategies that’d keep employees from growing bored.

A bad boss

Few things make the workplace more toxic than having a bad boss. It’s one of the most common reasons for employee turnover among organizations. Reports show that employees who don’t trust their managers are more likely to leave their jobs. And a bad boss can make companies start losing top performers.

The only way to solve this problem is to get rid of the incompetent manager. Keeping a bad manager can result in consequences that might lead to bigger problems. However, companies can conduct interviews among employees to get ahead of the problem. They can also identify bad managers by listening to what people say during their exit interviews and read between the lines.


  • Is India the most overworked or the hardest working country? | Prabhjote Gill |September 12, 2018
  • The link between organizational culture and turnover intentions among employees in Ghana | Theresa Esi Bosomtwe and Bertha Obeng |August 2018
  • Five causes of employee turnover (and how to prevent them) | Corey Moseley | November 7, 2018

You might also be interested to read:

Related Topics:

Comments are closed.