Employee Embeddedness Can Decrease Turnover

Topic(s): turnover
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2012)
Article: When and how is job embeddedness predictive of turnover? A meta-analytic investigation
Authors: K. Jiang, D. Liu, P.F. McKay, T.W. Lee, T.R. Mitchell
Reviewed by: Larry Martinez

Turnover is a huge concern for most organizations. The cost of recruiting, hiring, training, and replacing employees can be astounding. It’s much cheaper to just keep the employees you have for as long as possible. So, what can organizations do to try and prevent the good employees from leaving? This is what researchers (Liu et al., 2012) investigated by collecting data from 65 studies and nearly 43,000 individuals.


Specifically, these authors look at the influence of the number of links (e.g., friends, obligations, responsibilities) that employees have both within their organizations as well as in their communities—otherwise known as on-the-job and off-the-job embeddedness, respectively. Previous work has shown that the more connections people have, the less likely they are to quit their jobs. However, this past work has shown inconsistent results and doesn’t always include other important variables that affect and/or explain the relationship between embeddedness and turnover. Using such a large sample, this study clarifies some of the confusion.

One major finding was that the more links employees have, the less likely they are to quit. Impressively, this relationship held true even when other variables such as job satisfaction, commitment to the organization, or the perceived availability of alternative jobs were taken into account. Second, this study uncovered some interesting relationships. For instance, feelings about the organization were stronger in collectivist cultures and among female employees. Importantly, this research also shows that embeddedness is negatively related to intentions to quit, likelihood of looking for other jobs, and likelihood of having poorer performance, all of which were, in turn, positively related to actual quitting.


Based on these findings, organizations can try to reduce turnover by providing opportunities for their employees to become more embedded. For example, they could make sure employees are well-integrated into work social circles, are on working on interdependent projects, and have connections with community organizations. This can all help to “embed” employees and reduce the likelihood they will quit. The extra effort can have a positive affect on an organization’s bottom line.


Jiang, K., Liu, D., McKay, P. F., Lee, T. W., & Mitchell, T. R. (2012). When and how is job embeddedness predictive of turnover? A meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(5), 1077-1096.