These 3 Industries Have the Highest Talent Turnover Rates

March 15, 2018

Seeing a spike in your company's turnover will probably cause a spike in your blood pressure. No one wants their business to be a revolving door.

One thing that helps: arming yourself with insights. Once you have the data to anticipate turnover, you can act to retain key employees and recruit new ones way ahead of time. It’s the difference between constantly reacting and proactively planning.

That’s why we’re giving you the latest insights on the sectors, industries, and jobs seeing the highest levels of turnover, based on LinkedIn’s data on half-a-billion professionals. Insight #1: our analysis finds a worldwide turnover rate of 10.9%, defined as the percent of LinkedIn members who indicated they left a company in 2017.

Read on to discover where it’s hardest to hold on to talent — along with helpful examples of how companies have used turnover data to keep their employees and plan ahead, complete with tips to help you do the same.

The sectors seeing the most talent turnover: tech (software), retail, and media

Tech companies (software, not hardware) had the most turnover over in 2017 with a 13.2% rate. Retail — a historically high-churn sector — follows closely behind at 13.0%, while media/entertainment (11.4%), professional services (11.4%), and government/education/nonprofit (11.2%) round out the top five. Over the last few years, these sectors have consistently seen the highest turnover rates.

While tech, retail, and media may have the most “liquid” workforces, each one sees talent turnover for very different reasons.

Let’s take a closer look at the industries and jobs driving turnover within these spaces.

If you work in tech, retail, or media, these insights will help you see where you stack up—but even if you don’t, you’ll gain a better understanding of the talent landscape and the forces shaping it.

Tech turnover is likely driven by increasing demand and compensation

The computer games (15.5%), Internet (14.9%), and computer software industries (13.3%) drove tech turnover the most — but those rates pale in comparison to the churn you see within particular occupations. User experience designers had extremely high turnover at 23.3% (they’re also extremely in-demand), with both data analysts and embedded software engineers at 21.7%. In fact, embedded software engineers receive the most InMails per person of any occupation in North America.

There’s good evidence to suggest that the trouble with retaining tech talent is high-demand and rising compensation within the industry: as employers and offers get more competitive, top talent is more eager to jump on new opportunities. The numbers support this theory: according to LinkedIn data, almost half (49%) of departing tech employees take another job within the tech sector.

Retail is transforming from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce

The industries with the highest levels of turnover here aren’t terribly surprising, with restaurants (17.2%), retail (16.2%), and supermarkets (15.4%) leading the way. The roles that people left the most include lower-level, often-seasonal jobs, like retail salesperson (19.3%), food service professional (17.6%), and hospitality professional (17.0%).  

The revolving door of retail may have clearer causes. The industry traditionally sees high turnover, and with the rise of online shopping, companies need far fewer people on the floors. Many former salespeople have to find completely new careers: only 35% of people leaving jobs in retail stay within the sector, according to our data.

Media and entertainment companies’ need for talent comes and goes with projects

There’s no single industry within media and entertainment that’s driving turnover—newspapers (13.3%), online media (13.2%), and sports (13.2%) are all neck-and-neck. But the same can’t be said for occupations: animators (25.6%) and 3D artists (22.3%) both have turnover rates more than double the global average (both of these jobs are in high demand). Marketing specialists (19.8%) within Media and Entertainment see the third-most turnover. Most people leaving jobs in media/entertainment also leave the sector itself: just 36% of job-leavers go to another job in the media/entertainment sector.

One reason why the sector may see so much turnover: it’s extraordinarily project-focused. Whether it’s motion pictures, music, or sports, the work revolves around projects with definite beginnings and ends (e.g., movies, albums, playoffs). Talent needs would naturally ebb and flow faster here than other sectors, resulting in more turnover.

Here’s how companies prevent turnover and plan around it—and how you can, too

Turnover isn’t bad by nature, but it’s obviously costly when your most valuable people leave. By paying attention to why employees leave and appealing to what they care about most, HR pros can retain talent more effectively and recruiters can replace those who do leave.

We surveyed over 10,000 people who recently changed jobs to see why they left.

The top reason people leave: a lack of opportunities for advancement (45%). The other biggest reasons people jumped included being unhappy with leadership (41%), being unhappy with the work environment (36%), and a desire for more challenging work (36%).  

While these sweeping trends can definitely inform your approach to turnover, every organization is different. It’s absolutely essential to look at your own data — whether that’s turnover metrics or employee surveys — in order to understand and address the causes of turnover.

Here’s how three brands have taken different data-driven approaches to retention.

In each of these cases, companies found relatively simple ways to keep employees and plan ahead — just by engaging their people, analyzing their own data, and executing a clear action plan.

Depending on the insights you find, the action you take could be anything from career coaching to lateral job moves: 94% of employees say they’d stay longer if a company invested in their career. Professional development resources like LinkedIn Learning can encourage employees to gain new skills and advance their careers without leaving the company. And if you have remote employees or your company is considering transitioning to remote work, you may need to adjust your engagement and retention strategy to better meet the needs of your dispersed workforce.

Final thoughts

Turnover can be from a healthy, increasingly competitive industry, like tech, or one that’s rapidly changing, like retail. But even when there’s turnover for all the right reasons, turnover poses real challenges to TA and HR teams. The right insights can help you mitigate those problems, improve retention, and attract more of the talent you need.


Turnover rates are drawn from LinkedIn’s member data. We calculate turnover by taking the number of departures/movement in a given population (e.g., the retail sector, the restaurant industry, or data analysts), then dividing that number by the average headcount of that given population in 2017. We consider professionals as leaving their position if they provide an end-date for their position at a company (excluding internal job changes within the same company). A member can have multiple departures and positions within the year period.

We’ve also excluded contractors and other non-full-time-employees (e.g., interns, students, etc.), along with any positions that start and end on the same date. The turnover estimates may be below actual turnover, due to a possible lag between the time someone leaves a company and when they update their LinkedIn profile to reflect that departure.

*Image from Death to the Stock Photo

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