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Calculating Retention Rate (With 3 Examples)

A healthy employee retention rate calculation is important for businesses to reduce hiring costs and increase their return on investment by acquiring qualified talent. Your employee retention rate can give you insight into the health of your company and help you develop effective strategies for employee satisfaction. Use the information in this guide to understand the importance of employee retention and to calculate your retention rate.

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What is employee retention rate?

Employee retention rates represent the number of employees who stay within your company over a given period of time. Often calculated on a quarterly or annual basis, it looks at how many employees worked for your company at the start of the period compared to how many of those original employees remain at the end. Knowing your company’s retention rate lets you determine the total number of employees you’re able to keep, providing insight into the employee experience and helping you recognize areas with room for improvement.

Why is your retention rate calculation important?

The employee retention rate is an important metric because it helps your business evaluate the methods it uses to train and keep qualified employees. There are many hidden costs associated with high turnover, including lower productivity and reduced work quality. In fact, it can cost anywhere from half to two times an employee’s yearly salary to onboard a replacement. When employees remain in your organization for long periods, your organization reduces the costs associated with recruiting and hiring new employees.

The formula for retention rate calculation

To calculate the retention rate, use this formula:

(Total number of employees at the start of the time period) – (the number of employees who left during the time period) = (the number of original employees who remain at the end of the time period)

Using your final value from the first part, calculate the final retention rate with the last part of the formula:

(Number of original employees remaining) ÷ (total number of employees) = (percentage of retention)

The retention rate appears as a decimal, which you then convert to a percentage by multiplying by 100 or moving the decimal point two spaces to the right.

How to perform a retention rate calculation

The following steps provide a guide for you to calculate your employee retention rate:

1. Determine your time period

Start by determining the time period you want to measure. This can be, for instance, a fiscal year, a quarter or a six-month period. Knowing the time period you want to measure lets you calculate the appropriate number of employees.

2. Take a headcount

Count the number of employees you had at the start of your time period. Count only the employees who were working on the day your time period started, and leave out any employees who came on board during the middle of the period.

3. Subtract

Once you have the total number of employees during the period, subtract the number of original employees left at the end of the period from the total number of employees you counted. Use this value to determine the percentage rate.

4. Divide

Divide the number of remaining employees by the total number of employees at the start of the time period to get a decimal solution. This decimal represents the rate at which employees stay in your organization.

5. Evaluate

Change the decimal to a percentage by moving the decimal point to the right two places. If the percentage appears low, such as 50% or lower, evaluate the methods your HR department uses to retain employees.

Retention rate calculation examples

Here are some additional examples of calculating the retention rate for your business:

Example 1

An advertising agency has 40 employees at the beginning of Q1. On the last day of Q1, 38 of the original employees still work there.

Starting number: 40

Remaining number: 38

Calculation: 40 – 38 = 2 employees left during the quarter.

Divide the remaining employees by the total employees at the start: 38 ÷ 40 = 0.95

Move the decimal two spots to the right to get the percentage. In this example, the retention rate is 95%.

Example 2

A manufacturing company had 127 employees at the beginning of the fiscal year. Of those 127 original employees, 85 still worked there on the last day of the year.

Starting number: 127

Remaining number: 85

Calculation: 127 – 85 = 42 people left during the fiscal year.

Divide the remaining employees by the total employees at the start: 85 ÷ 127 = 0.669

The retention rate is 66.9% when you move the decimal.

Example 3

A call center has 65 employees at the beginning of the calendar year, and 49 of them remain at the end of the calendar year.

Starting number: 65

Remaining number: 49

Calculation: 65 – 49 = 16 people left during the calendar year.

Divide the remaining employees by the total employees at the start: 49 ÷ 65 = 0.753

The retention rate for the call center is 75.3%.

How to improve the employee retention rate

If your calculations show that your employee retention rate needs help, make a plan to improve your workplace. There are many employee retention strategies that your HR department can implement to increase the percentage of employees you retain. Here are some ways to improve the retention rate.

Improve the work culture

Managers can foster a comfortable work culture through effective training and feedback. If the work environment is tense or negative, you’re more likely to have higher turnover among your employees. Surveying your current employees can help you understand how they feel about the company culture and where you can make improvements.

Improve hiring practices

Hiring the right employees can set you up for a better retention rate. Improve hiring practices by integrating more detailed employee screenings, such as reference and background checks. Look for people with the right skills who can work well within your established company culture.

Offer better benefits and perks

Additionally, evaluate your rewards, time off policies and base salaries. These aspects of your business can have a lasting impact on how satisfied your employees are and may ultimately influence their decision to remain with your company. Therefore, you might strategize with HR managers to incorporate more flexible PTO policies, increase base salaries or implement additional professional development training.

Have a career path

If your employees have nowhere to go with your company, they may eventually look for work elsewhere. Create career paths that give your top employees a chance to move up through the ranks. Communicate the options, set goals with your employees and work on a career path with them to let them know about these opportunities.

Provide ongoing education

Another way to improve retention rates is employee development. Establish training programs within your company. Encourage employees to attend conferences and other educational opportunities in their fields.

Give your employees feedback

Your employees want to know how well they’re doing. If they work hard and never get praise, they feel unappreciated. Even corrective feedback can be a good thing as it helps your employees develop and shows them that you care about their development. Train your managers to give regular feedback to your employees beyond yearly reviews.

Let your employees be creative

Giving employees autonomy over their jobs can also help retention. Micromanaging everything they do is a good way to drive employees away. Having trust in employees and giving them creative freedom and decision-making power can boost morale and help you hold onto top workers.

Encourage work-life balance

Pushing employees to be their best is a good thing, but you also need to establish a good work-life balance. Encourage employees to take vacations, and give them flexibility with family situations.

Tracking your employees using the retention rate calculation helps you see if your workplace offers long-term job satisfaction. By understanding how well you retain workers, you can better craft policies and procedures that increase morale and reduce turnover rates.

Calculating retention rate FAQs

These frequently asked questions can provide additional information about calculating your employee retention rate:

How does the retention rate relate to the turnover rate?

The retention rate is typically the inverse of the turnover rate for your company. For instance, if your employee retention rate is 92%, then your turnover rate would be the remaining 8%, which is the difference between the retention rate and the total percentage of employees (100%).

How do I calculate the turnover rate?

The turnover rate works similarly to the retention rate. Simply divide the number of employees who leave (either voluntarily or through termination) during a specific time period by the total number of employees at the start of the period you’re measuring. For instance, assume seven employees out of 40 left during a fiscal year. Calculate the turnover rate like this: 7 ÷ 40 = 0.175. This decimal converts to 17.5%, which means 17.5% of your employees left during the time period measured.

How often should you calculate retention rates?

It’s common to calculate your retention rate annually. You can use either the calendar year or the fiscal year as your period. If you want to calculate it now, but you’re not near the start of a new year, simply recalculate in one year. Some companies calculate retention rates more frequently, such as quarterly. This method can help you more closely monitor the situation if you have a low retention rate and are actively working to improve it.

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