Full Circle Data Collection: An Approach for Reducing Turnover

It’s important that you collect information from employees from the time they first speak with a recruiter and begin working (entrance survey), to their first few months on the job (onboarding), through their years working at the company (engagement survey) to when they leave (exit survey). If you do, you have at your fingertips the answers, based on analytics, to improving the critical business outcomes (e.g., reduce turnover) your organization is facing. All you have to do is integrate and analyze together the data from all the surveys you’ve conducted. Think about the the employee lifecycle measurement approach below to address the eternal issue of turnover.

lifecycle image

Turnover – Bad News/Good News

Bad news: The U.S. voluntary turnover rate is 23.4% annually.¹ Direct replacement costs are typically 50-60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total turnover costs ranging from 90-200% of the employees annual salary.2

Good news: Turnover is an easily tracked metric, and one that HR can demonstrate direct ROI by reducing. For example, by leveraging the approach outlined in the above image, you can identify where the problems are for voluntary turnover and where to focus time to fix the situation. During the entrance survey, you hear about the employee’s expectations. Was he/she overpromised anything, or maybe he/she had unrealistic expectations? What did the employee say at 30 days at your organization versus 2 years after he/she joined? Once the evolution of an employee’s sentiments and experiences is captured, the key is running a statistical analysis to tie those measurements to specific business outcomes – like actual voluntary turnover. You’ll know if it’s an overpromise of career development opportunities or poor work/life balance, etc.  We know from our own research that the mismatch of a new hire’s actual experiences and expectations is often the root cause of voluntary turnover – particularly in the first six months of employment.

Implementing the “Good News”

We provide a thorough explanation of how to do this, along with a case study, in our recent webinar, Measuring Employee Lifecycles to Reduce Turnover: Telling the Story with Data. You may listen to the recording here. In the meantime, nibble on these practical tips.

  • Harvest the intelligence from the data you already have before blindly investing in more data (i.e., fight the urge to simply measure employee experiences/attitudes more frequently)
  • Build and implement a measurement strategy
  • Measure the employee lifecycle to get feedback at different stages of employment – the factors that drive turnover are often very different by stage
  • Use surveys to evaluate programs/processes AND better understand employee experiences across the lifecycle
  • Use analytics to connect the survey data to actual outcomes (e.g., turnover) – understanding the drivers of outcomes is the key to program improvement and prioritization of action
  • Make the data actionable for managers
  • Communicate the impact of programs – make the business case!


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2015).
  2. Cascio, W.F. (2006). Managing Human Resources: Productivity, Quality of Work Life, Pro ts (7th ed.). Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin/McGraw-Hill. Mitchell, T.R., Holtom, B.C., & Lee, T.W. 2001. How to keep your best employees: Developing an effective retention policy. Academy of Management Executive, 15, 96-108.