Talent Connection Blog

The term “attrition” refers to the “unpredictable and uncontrollable, but normal, reduction of workforce due to resignations, retirement, sickness, or death; loss of material or resource due to obsolescence or spoilage.”

This term employee attrition is often confused with employee turnover. Although they are similar, using the terms interchangeably can skew workforce data and affect workforce planning processes.

The Houston Chronicle’s Small Business section clarifies the difference between turnover and attrition:

Both attrition and turnover occur when an employee leaves the company. The difference is turnover can be the effect of a number of employment actions, such as termination, resignation, or job abandonment. Meanwhile, attrition is the effect of an employee retiring or the company eliminating that specific job role. The difference between these two is important because when it comes to turnover, the company makes efforts to replace the lost employee; in attrition cases, the vacancy remains unfilled, or the employer completely eliminates that job role.

Employee attrition and turnover can both take place voluntarily or involuntarily. Again, the distinction between the two is important. Involuntary turnover is an employment decision to terminate an employee, usually due to poor performance or violation of organizational policy. Involuntary attrition is caused by layoffs, reduction in job force, or job position elimination, and is considered involuntary because the employment relationship ends based on the employer’s circumstances instead of the employee’s decision to leave.

Voluntary attrition and turnover also have their differences. Voluntary termination occurs when employees leave to pursue other opportunities, spend time with family, or any other reason to willingly leave an organization. If the company begins searching for a replacement, the situation is categorized as voluntary turnover. If the employer leaves the empty position or eliminates it completely, it becomes voluntary attrition.

Losing and replacing employees is never a stress-free process, regardless of the title. But it is important to know the difference between employee attrition and employee turnover to ensure your workforce planning process is as accurate and simple as possible.

Talexes can help you retain your top talent in order to minimize attrition and turnover. Contact us today for more information!