NZ Staff Turnover in 2020 – Surprising

The New Zealand National Staff Turnover Survey is now in its 13th year. The survey provides organisations a benchmark of the success of their recruitment, onboarding, retention and development activities.

CEO’s have become more focused on the costs of staff turnover in the last decade as business competition increases, there is a drive for cost reduction and skills are in short supply.


Staff turnover impacts both direct and indirect costs to a business. These include:-

– The cost of hiring a new employee including the advertising, interviewing, screening, and hiring.

– The cost of onboarding, including training and management time.

– Lost productivity—it may take a new employee 6 to 18 months to reach the productivity of an existing person.

– Lost engagement—other employees who see high turnover tend to disengage and lose productivity.

– Customer service and errors—for example new employees take longer and are often less adept at solving problems.

– Training cost—for example, over two to three years, a business likely invests 10 to 20 percent of an employee’s
salary or more in training

– Cultural impact—whenever someone leaves, others take time to ask why.

Covid-19 and its impact on Staff Turnover

The average National Staff turnover rate for 2019 was 19.7%. This is a 4% decrease from 2018.

As expected Covid 19 has severley impacted the workforce causing the National turnover rate to fall to 10.3% for the first 6 months of 2020.


This 46% fall in Staff turnover during a pandemic is surprising. In the first 6 months of 2020 we were confronted with changing Alert levels and the resulting business and industry impacts with significant redundancies.

This fall is indicative of two factors in the market

  1. Variability across sectors. We know that some sectors such as retail, Hospitality and Tourism have been hard hit by Covid-19, however others have experienced strong demand.
  2. The level of Government support. Support mechanisms such as the Wage subsidies have enabled businesses to hold more staff than expected in the first 6 months of 2020.


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