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Voluntary turnover describes the amount of employee turnover that occurs due to the decision of employees to resign from their positions and voluntarily leave their employers. This is in contrast to involuntary turnover, which is turnover that occurs without the consent of the employee. Typically, voluntary turnover focuses mainly on situations in which employees choose to tender resignations for various causes, rather than being terminated at the discretion of an employer.
There are several different reasons why voluntary turnover may occur. One of the more common reasons is that employees find positions with different employers who offer more in the way of salaries, wages, or benefits. In this scenario, the employee tenders a resignation to the current employer, often providing whatever advance notice is customary in the culture where the company is located. The employer then has the option of releasing the employee immediately, or allowing the employee to work out the terms of that notice.
Another common reason for voluntary turnover involves changes in the life circumstances of employees. For example, an employee may choose to start a family and prefer to devote more time to child rearing. When this is the case, the employee may choose to resign from full-time employment for the first years after children are born, leaving open the options to launch a home business or secure a part-time position with another firm at a later date.
Relocation is another reason for voluntary turnover. Spouses and partners may choose to resign from their work in order to relocate with a loved one who is being assigned to a new area for his or her job. At other times, employees may choose to relocate in order to take advantage of educational opportunities or weather conditions that are more conducive to managing a health issue.
While there are a number of reasons for voluntary turnover, employers typically attempt to discourage valued employees from leaving positions if at all possible. In some cases, this may mean offering additional incentives in terms of pay or benefits to remain with the company. At other times, it may be possible to structure a means of allowing the employee to manage his or her responsibilities through a virtual office environment without regard to the geographical location of the employee. When these solutions are feasible, the employer saves time and money that would be spent on locating, recruiting, and training qualified candidates to replace those who voluntarily chose to leave their jobs.
I think a lot of businesses anticipate a higher-than-normal voluntary turnover rate, so they aren't going to go out of their way to retain employees who turn in their notices. I remember working for an insurance company as a temporary worker, and my supervisor said he knows there are three or four other insurance companies in town that can offer higher wages and better sales leads. If someone he hired really wanted to resign voluntarily, there really wasn't much he could do to discourage him or her.
I feel sorry for employers who have to lose loyal employees because of circumstances beyond anyone's control. Turnover in general can seriously affect productivity, because another employee has to stop working on other projects to train the new hire, and it takes time for a replacement to get up to the speed of the former employee.
When I worked in the restaurant business, another reason for voluntary employee turnover was dissatisfaction with the job. We hired people to handle positions like dishwashing and short order cooking, which can be physically demanding and stressful. Some employees would voluntarily decide they weren't suited for that kind of work and turn in their two week notices.
That sort of staff turnover happens in just about every company I know. Some people just decide that their skill sets or training or interests don't match the job at hand. As a manager, I could try reducing turnover by offering higher wages or better hours, but I couldn't make the job itself any less demanding or challenging.
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