Employee Turnover: Why are Canadian workers resigning? + How to Calculate Turnover

Employee attrition is often an uncomfortable discussion for business leaders, but as Canada continues to recover from The Great Resignation, it is just as important as ever to monitor trends in employee turnover. Data from 2023 surveys demonstrate there is still cause for concern. While it may seem like an uphill battle, the statistics can help employers make plans on how to foster better retention.

Employee Turnover Statistics

According to a study conducted by Mercer LLC1, the average voluntary turnover rate in Canada has grown to 15.5% in 2023, up from 12.4% in 2022. The highest contributions were from workers in Sales, Marketing, and Property Management. Even more troubling, PwC’s Hopes and Fears survey for 20232 showed that almost 1 in 4 Canadian employees planned to change employers within the first half of 2024. These statistics mirrored a global trend of discontent and uncertainty in the job market.

If this data concerns you, you’re not alone. In a 2023 survey3, Statistics Canada reported that almost half of businesses with 20+ employees were anticipating challenges with retaining skilled workers. But what is swaying individuals to clean up their resumes and re-enter the labour market?

Factors Motivating Talent Migration

Cost of Living

It’s no surprise that the rising cost of living is at the top of the list, considering economic fluctuations in the last couple of years. As many as 1 in 3 Canadians reported that they live in a household experiencing financial difficulties, as noted by the 2023 Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada4. The stress from inflation on basic living essentials such as housing and food is enough for workers to consider their options, especially if their annual salary increases cannot keep up with the discrepancy.

Benefits & Perks

Adjacent to the cost of living, the need for better benefits and perks may influence employee turnover. Employer-sponsored Extended Health, Dental, and Vision coverage may be more than just nice-to-haves in uncertain times. Some employees may be persuaded by other specific perks, such as pension plans, tuition reimbursement, and skill training.

Flexible Work Options

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the status quo in many ways, including an overhaul to what people think of as an ideal workplace. The ability to work from home has never been more accessible. The allowance for more flexibility, facetime with family, and the savings of both time and money on commuting all make it a very desirable perk. Canadian surveys have also confirmed testimonials that remote workers report feeling equally or more productive5. The desire for remote or hybrid work options has grown to be a major prerequisite for job seekers as well as driving employees to look for greener pastures.

A growing number of organizations are also offering four-day work weeks as further incentive. Read our latest article: 6 Reasons Canadian Companies are Embracing the 4-day Work Week.

Work Environments

For some workers, it may be down to how they feel in their workplace. A toxic work environment can wreak havoc on an employee’s well-being and be the motivation behind their resignation letter. It can stem from a lack of trust in management, feeling overworked, or simply not feeling heard.

Managing Employee Turnover

With all of this in mind, what can business leaders do to mitigate negative employee attrition?

Calculating Turnover

It’s recommended that business leaders keep track of turnover, no matter the size of their organization. This can sound like an arduous task for larger groups, but it comes down to a simple formula:

Monthly Voluntary Turnover

Employees Resigning in a month ÷ Average # of Employees in a Month

Annual Voluntary Turnover

Employees Resigning in a Year ÷ Average # of Employees in a Year

It’s important to note that some employee turnover is expected and can even be beneficial. Healthy attrition rates are not universal and can vary depending on the field, business type, and external factors. However, monitoring these numbers over time can help spot trends before they become a greater issue.

Collecting Employee Feedback

One of the greatest lines of defense is collecting regular feedback from employees. Employee surveys are a powerful tool that every business should utilize, measuring metrics ranging from engagement to benefits, and more. It gives workers the opportunity to voice their opinions and brings about positive change to the workplace.

For example, Engagement Surveys can help identify areas in the organization that need attention by asking employees…

  • Whether they feel supported by their manager
  • How they feel about the work culture
  • If they feel appropriately recognized
  • If they feel satisfaction with their job duties

Alternatively, a survey around Benefits can paint a clear picture of what the employee values by asking questions such as:

  • How they feel about particular options
  • How well they understand the resources available to them
  • Their preferences or recommendations for perks

Finally, conducting exit surveys or interviews when a member of the team resigns can provide candid insight that otherwise may be missed. Holding surveys anonymously also gives the employee greater peace of mind to be honest about how they truly feel.

Form a Plan and Take Action

With this data at your disposal, you can now formulate an action plan. Consider the following:

  • Are there adjustments to available benefits, or room in the budget for desirable perks?
  • Are there specific groups or departments that could benefit from tailored training or coaching?
  • Is there a need for further learning and development opportunities?
  • Is there information that can inform strategies for the next compensation cycle?

Collaborate with managers, be open to new possibilities, discuss options with your Human Resources department, and set milestones for your workplace.

If you are having challenges attracting and retaining top talent in your organization, you have options. HR Performance and results can assist with facilitating Employee Opinion Surveys and conducting exit interviews to improve workplace culture and employee retention. Click here to contact us today.


  1. Mercer LLC, “Workforce Turnover Trends, Canada.” September 21, 2023.
  2. PwC Canada LLP “Hopes & Fears 2023 – Canadian insights.” 2023.
  3. Statistics Canada, “Analysis on labour challenges in Canada, second quarter of 2023.” June 22, 2023.
  4. Statistics Canada, “Labour Force Survey, October 2023.” November 3, 2023.
  5. Statistics Canada, “Working from Home: Productivity and preferences.” April 1, 2021.