Decreasing Turnover in your Organization

Topic: Turnover
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (AUG 2010)
Article: Will they stay or will they go? The role of job embeddedness in predicting turnover in individualistic and collectivistic cultures.
Authors: A. Ramesh, M. J. Gelfand
Reviewed By: Rachel Marsh

Recent research has linked turnover with employee embeddedness.  Employee embededness is the extent to which an employee feels connected to the organization.  Employees who feel higher levels of embeddedness are less likely to leave their jobs willingly.  They also experience higher levels of job satisfaction, have more job commitment, and are less likely to search for alternative jobs. 

The current study examines how culture affects employee embeddedness by comparing employees in an individualistic culture (in which one’s individual needs are valued over the groups’ needs, e.g., United States, Western Europe) versus a collectivistic culture (in which the group’s needs are valued over the individual’s needs, e.g., India, China). 

These researchers found that employees in the United States had higher levels of embeddedness when they perceived high person-job fit (e.g., when they believed their job is a match to their individual skills).  Employees in India had higher levels of embeddedness when they felt (a) a person-organization fit – they believed they fit in with the organization and its values and mission, (b) an organizational link (the extent to which a person believes they have personal associations in the organization), and (c) community links  – connections within the community where the job is located.

In both individualistic and collectivistic cultures, family embeddedness – the extent to which the family feels connected to the organization and views the company as a good match for the family member who is the employee – was an important aspect of total embeddedness.

So, how can a company increase their employees’ feeling of embededness within the organization?  Ramesh and Gelfand suggest that in collectivist countries, employers can perform structured interviews to ensure employee-organization fit and highlight the commonalities between employees and the organization.  In individualistic cultures, employers can build skills specific to the job a person is performing to increase job-person fit.  In both cultures, companies can reach out to employees’ families to involve them in the organization, with events such as “Bring Your Child to Work Day” or other company sponsored family activities.  Knowing how an employee feels connected to an organization is important because that knowledge can be utilized to help improve that connection, resulting in decreased turnover, increased productivity and cost savings for the organization. 

Ramesh, A., Gelfand, M. J. (2010) Will they stay or will they go? The role of job embeddedness in predicting turnover in individualistic and collectivistic cultures.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 807-823.