How Job Embeddedness Lowers Employee Turnover

Topic(s): job attitudes, 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: Neil Morelli

Have you ever had a job where you felt like you were stuck? Like if in a perfect world you might leave, but your work obligations, salary, family needs, or community ties didn’t allow you to? If you’ve ever felt this way you’ve demonstrated what researchers call job embeddedness, or the integrated reasons employees become stuck or caught in a job. This idea is important when it comes to understanding employee turnover.


When it comes to predicting turnover, researchers (Jiang et al., 2012) expected that it’s not just how an employee thinks or feels about his or her job, it’s also the degree of on- and off-the-job embeddedness that an employee experiences. The researchers visualized turnover like this: depending on the employee’s national culture, type of organization, and gender, on- and off-the-job sources of embeddedness will influence turnover intentions. These turnover intentions, also influenced by job attitudes and possible job alternatives, will then directly and indirectly influence actual turnover.

Did the authors find evidence to support this idea of turnover? After using 65 independent samples in a meta-analysis (or statistical combination of many previous studies), the authors found that as job embeddedness increased the intention to turnover decreased. What’s more interesting is that this relationship was observed when job attitudes and alternatives were controlled, indicating that job embeddedness is a unique piece of the pie when it comes to understanding turnover. The researchers also found that on-the-job sources of embeddedness had stronger relationship to turnover intentions in public organizations and when the employees came from a female-dominated sample.


So overall, job embeddness can decrease an employee’s intent to turnover, which often times directly or indirectly lowers their chances of actually turning over. Thus, while being “stuck” might have a negative connotation for employees, organizations might want to consider bolstering employee job embeddedness in positive ways to keep turnover levels low. The authors suggest investing in career development opportunities or helping subsidize home purchases in favorite neighborhoods. Either way, in addition to measuring employee engagement and job satisfaction, surveying levels of job embeddedness could be a useful tool in predicting future levels of employee turnover.


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.