MRA survey: Job turnover at highest rate in a decade

This chart highlights the turnover rate trends during the past eight years, according to research by MRA. CREDIT MRA

Job turnover increased to 25.4% in 2021, the highest rate it has been in the past decade, according to a newly eased Turnover Survey from MRA-The Management Association.

This year’s rate is up from MRA’s 2020 report, when turnover was at 21.2%. MRA’s Turnover Survey has seen a steady increase year over year since 2014. There was a slight decrease in 2020’s turnover rates, likely due to the personal management of the pandemic and individual safety. However, turnover rates are continuing to rise past pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels (the turnover rate from MRA’s 2019 report was 24.3%). 

“While the attention and suddenness of the ‘Great Resignation’ feels like a significant increase, organizations were experiencing similar challenges prior to the pandemic. “At this rate, one of every four employees on average leave. This critical strain has challenged employers to become more creative in their recruiting and retention strategies. Talent acquisition has become a key focus,” said Zach Day, director, surveys, custom research and analytics for MRA, in a news release.  

Production, maintenance, service, and trade positions saw the highest turnover rate of all groups with one in three (33.6%) employees leaving their organizations for different opportunities. The majority of those employees (66%) were within two years of their employment, indicating that this employee group is job-hopping, leaving employers struggling to sustain consistent workforces.

With available skilled labor at a premium, organizations are enticing candidates by increasing starting wages and offering additional incentives and benefits.

MRA’s survey also showed that high-performer turnover is at a 3-year high (6.2%).

“These losses cause additional challenges,” said Kristie Haase, employee engagement survey director at MRA. “With skilled talent at a premium, it may require a different approach to engage high performers.”

Knowing the root cause of why an employee left can help an organization take the necessary steps to fix or prevent issues. The primary drivers to why employees are leaving include:

  • More salary/better benefits
  • Similar job at another employer
  • Career change
  • Retirement
  • Due to performance

In addition, exit interviews were the top action employers (66%) took in 2021 to help reduce future turnover.

“Retention strategies can help affect turnover and are worth the investment for an organization to understand their employees. Focusing on the development of employee careers, job satisfaction, and strong company cultures will help prevent current employees from looking elsewhere,” said Cherrie Spurlin, MRA executive director, Western Illinois & Iowa.

“While employee turnover remains a concern, the outlook of the economy and revenue growth suggests that organizations are succeeding despite the talent management challenges,” said Mr. Day. 

In the survey, data was broken out by four employee groups: executive; managerial, supervisory and professional; office and technical; and production, maintenance, service and trades workers, including breakouts by state, organization size, industry, revenue and profit status. Data was contributed by 495 organizations. The survey was conducted December 2021 to January 2022.

For a copy of the 2022 Turnover Survey, call (800) 488-4845, ext. 3508.

Headquartered in Wisconsin, the MRA is a nonprofit employer association that serves 4,000 employers. MRA has regional offices in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.