Organizational Turnover: What’s the Impact When Someone Leaves?

Turnover in organizations, whether by people moving on their own power or getting the boot, has an impact.shutterstock_73125610

We intuit that when the malcontent that’s been disrupting the well-oiled machine – think Dwight Howard if you’re a Laker’s sports fan or perhaps Mark Penn if you supported Hillary Clinton in 2008  – departs, the organization goes back to humming right along.

We suspect when it’s been somebody who is the glue that holds things together, things fall apart when they leave.

And when a catalyst in the organization whose exhortations, nudges, pats on the back and provocations  push an an organization forward leaves? We assume that the flight path stalls.

Turns out that the actual impact of somebody leaving – you guessed it – depends.

BPS Occupational Digest reports recent research that showed the following:

“Turnover affects certain performance measures more than others
  • Customer Satisfaction and Quality showed large effects
  • Weaker effects found for employee attitudes, productivity and financial performance
  • Generally the effects were greater when measuring performance soon after the turnover, rather than moderately far or far into future.
Organisational Type and structure matters. More effects were found in
  • smaller companies
  • executive level samples
  • industries such as healthcare and hospitality, coded as ‘human-capital-centric’
  • those with so-called ‘primary employment systems’ that focus around delivery through committed employees (instead of a transactional, control-system)”

Reductions in force (lay-offs) and voluntary turnover, negatively impacts an organization the report shows. Furthermore involuntary fires – whacking the rule-breaking malcontents – has little organizational impact.


Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.