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Talent management in higher education: is turnover relevant?

Rob Gandy (Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)
Patricia Harrison (Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)
Jeff Gold (York Business School, York St John University, York, UK)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 22 October 2018

Issue publication date: 8 November 2018




Institution-wide staff turnover in universities might be considered “satisfactory”, but can mask wide counterbalancing patterns between departments and different staff. This paper aims to explore the benefits of detailed turnover analysis in managing talent in the complex changing landscape of Higher Education in the UK.


Staff turnover was analysed for both new recruits and staff leaving, as well as net turnover. The inverted Nomogramma di Gandy highlighted overall patterns and outliers. Staff characteristics examined included age, gender, staff type and contractual status.


There were (wide) variations in staff turnover for age, gender and type of contract, with particularly high turnover for research staff (influenced by the use of fixed-term contracts). This disproportionately affected younger staff, who are more likely than their elders to seek employment elsewhere, but might stay if there are career opportunities and development. Practical processes are suggested to improve intelligence that enables the best talent to be identified and retained, support a life-span perspective and inform emerging issues such as gender pay differentials.


Given the increasing complexity of managing talent in universities, with their predominantly knowledge-type employees, the research serves to highlight that high localized staff turnover can adversely impact on a university’s research capacity, which in turn presents risks to the achievement of its strategic aims and objectives. Therefore, detailed scrutiny of staff turnover dynamics can pinpoint where recruitment and retention policies and practice require focus.



The authors would like to convey their thanks for the advice and contributions of the HR Manager (Reward, Diversity and Policy Development) and the HR Project Manager at the university studied. No funding was involved in the research covered by this paper, and none of the authors has any financial interest or benefit arising from the direct applications of this research.


Gandy, R., Harrison, P. and Gold, J. (2018), "Talent management in higher education: is turnover relevant?", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 42 No. 9, pp. 597-610.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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