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Regrettable loss: Minimising voluntary turnover among your top performers

By Brian Donn | |7 minute read

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1.3 million people have changed jobs in the 12 months to February 2023, equating to 9.5 per cent of all employed people moving to a new role during the year.

While retention is always a concern for HR leaders due to the cost of replacing staff and its impact on business continuity, Australia’s declining productivity and shortage of skilled workers make it an even bigger priority. That’s particularly true for retaining top performers who typically contribute far more to an organisation’s overall success than the average employee.

Research from McKinsey & Company shows that the top reason Australian employees leave jobs in the private sector is a lack of career development potential. This reason especially impacts women, who are underrepresented in leadership, only making up 35.7 per cent of ASX 200 boards, according to a recent report from the Australian government. Additionally, McKinsey’s global survey of worker attrition and attraction (including Australia) shows that 41 per cent of employees are likely to leave their current jobs in the next three to six months.


In a world where complex challenges make efficiency and productivity critical, HR and people managers must focus on reducing voluntary turnover with innovative strategies that empower and challenge their top performers while preparing them for the next steps in their careers.

1. Create opportunities for internal mobility

One of the keys to retaining talent is providing opportunities for internal mobility. However, too many organisations rely on moving employees up, when many people today would rather move across. According to Ceridian’s 2023 Pulse of Talent Survey of 1,031 Australian workers, only 17 per cent said they aspire to be people leaders and just 13 per cent hope to move into senior leadership roles.

The linear career progression is a thing of the past, so it’s important to give employees the opportunity to make lateral moves within an organisation rather than limit their growth to climbing a set career ladder. That could mean offering a finance professional with strong project management skills a role in HR or giving a marketing professional with a firm grasp of data analytics a role in product development. The key is to think outside of the box about how to leverage employees’ core skills and interests to help them find their next career move within the organisation.

Doing so can have a material impact on reducing voluntary turnover. Again, our Pulse of Talent Survey found that 49 per cent of workers would be more loyal to their current employer if they had access to internal mobility opportunities. Of course, having a sound internal mobility strategy helps to not only retain top performers longer but also fill critical skills gaps faster by identifying transferrable skills from versatile internal talent.

2. Develop job rotation programs

Another strategy for reducing voluntary turnover is establishing a job rotation program. Given that nearly all (91 per cent) 2023 Pulse of Talent Survey respondents said they feel or have felt stuck in their careers over the past year, and 51 per cent would consider changing career paths within their company, job rotations pose an opportunity to help employees remain engaged and meet their career goals.

Job rotation programs allow employees to rotate to a new team for a set period so that they can immerse themselves in the work that the team does. It’s a great way for employees to explore new career paths, gain valuable skills and experiences, and achieve their career goals without having to leave the organisation to do so. For employers, in addition to helping drive retention, it’s also a great way to build internal talent pools and shorten the time to hire.

3. Prevent burnout by empowering your employees with digital tools

Data released by the University of Melbourne this year found that one in two Australians aged between 18 and 54 feel exhausted at work. The truth is that we now live in a world where employees can maximise their energy and reduce stress by learning how to add innovative technologies into their workflows – such as generative artificial intelligence (AI).

Offering learning and development opportunities for employees to become familiar with new digital tools is crucial to combatting burnout. While upskilling programs are often focused on entry-level and non-management workers, it is equally important that leaders and managers are also upskilled as part of your retention strategy. Identifying how to tailor learning and development programs across the board is crucial to helping your top performers grow within your organisation.

It’s time to get smart about retention strategy

With productivity slowing at record rates in Australia, HR leaders need to find ways to minimise voluntary turnover, particularly among their top talent, to maintain productivity and essential business operations. Doing so requires giving employees greater control over their careers through internal mobility opportunities and job rotation programs to create a sense of purpose and fulfilment. For all employees, offering learning and development programs to combat burnout with digital tools is crucial to not only re-engaging talent but also future-proofing them.

For organisations that fail to engage and retain their talent, they will find it increasingly difficult to fill the gaps.

Brian Donn is the managing director of Asia-Pacific and Japan at Ceridian.



Employees experience burnout when their physical or emotional reserves are depleted. Usually, persistent tension or dissatisfaction causes this to happen. The workplace atmosphere might occasionally be the reason. Workplace stress, a lack of resources and support, and aggressive deadlines can all cause burnout.


Turnover in human resources refers to the process of replacing an employee with a new hire. Termination, retirement, death, interagency transfers, and resignations are just a few examples of how organisations and workers may part ways.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.