Distribution of separations during a reporting period by type of separation.


Separations. [Separation reason] / Separations* 100


Separation Reason Breakdown measures the composition of separations by type of separation, including voluntary and involuntary separation reasons. Graphically, the data are presented as a percentage of the total separations, i.e. a stacked bar graph of voluntary and involuntary separations.

While Separation Reason Breakdown does not indicate the volume of any type of separation, it can help an organisation understand the mix of circumstances by which employees leave the organisation.

Voluntary and involuntary separations may carry different direct and productivity costs, may require varying levels of managerial and HR involvement, and may have varying impacts on the rest of the workforce.

An organisation with relatively high levels of involuntary separations might examine where process failures are occurring to require those levels of firings or layoffs. An organisation with relatively high levels of voluntary separations might examine employee engagement and commitment to identify weak areas that are driving employees toward talent competitors.

Variations of this measure for only voluntary or only involuntary separations can also be useful in understanding the mix of voluntary reasons or involuntary reasons surrounding employee departures.

The mix of voluntary reasons for separations may help organisations to direct retention efforts and interventions in recruiting and onboarding. The mix of involuntary reasons may also have a significant impact on future recruiting efforts, performance management and disciplinary programs, or workforce planning models.

Data Sourcing

Organisations typically source separation actions from either an action reason or separation date field in a job table. Voluntary separations are typically mapped to include retirements, resignations and other employee-initiated separations. Involuntary separations are typically mapped to include layoffs, terminations for cause and other employer-initiated terminations.


Organisations can analyse Separation Reason Breakdown by a large number of subgroups and characteristics to understand the differing separation patterns of employee segments and tailor any interventions to those segments. Common dimensions used for analysis on this measure include tenure, performance rating, occupation, job family, job function, organisational unit, employment level, age, ethnic background and gender.


Separation Reason Breakdown does not measure the volume of any type of separation relative to workforce size, only relative to other separation types.

It does not differentiate between desirable and undesirable turnover, unless action reasons capture this information. This measure provides only a very indirect notion of the organisational costs of turnover. Specific or estimated expenses and productivity losses must be taken into account to assess these costs.


As this measure is a breakdown measure, targets would be necessary for the individual components of the breakdown, including voluntary and involuntary reasons.

Within voluntary reasons, an organisation might set targets for the percentage of separations due to retirement, dissatisfaction with managers, returns to school, etc. Within involuntary reasons, an organisation might set targets for violation of policies, layoffs, failure to meet performance expectations, etc.