Employee embeddedness can improve retention rates (IO Psychology)

Topic(s): turnover

Topic: Turnover
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (online pre-publication)
Article: When and how is job embeddedness predictive of turnover? A meta-analytic investigation
Authors: Jiang, K., Liu, D., McKay, P. F., Lee, T. W., & Mitchell, T. R.
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 (unless, of course, they are terrible).

So, what can organizations do to try and prevent the good employees from leaving? This is what Liu and colleagues have 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 big (and obvious) finding was that the more links an employee has, the less likely they are to quit. Impressively, 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 collectivistic 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, making sure employees are well-integrated into work social circles, are on working on interdependent projects, and have connections with community organizations can all help to “embed” employees and reduce the likelihood they will quit. This extra effort can have real bottom-line consequences!

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, online first publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028610

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

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