Job Satisfaction and Voluntary Turnover

Topic: Turnover
Publication: Academy of Management (2008)
Article: Understanding Voluntary Turnover: Path-Specific Job Satisfaction Effects and the Importance of Unsolicited Job Offers’.
Blogger: LitDigger

Do you buy in to the notion that employee turnover is most affected by job satisfaction and current unemployment rates?  If so, you are in good academic company, but it may be time to find a new group of friends.

An article by Lee, Gerhart, Weller, and Trevor (published by Academy of Management in August 2008) suggests that the traditional models explaining WHY employees leave may be missing important pieces to the puzzle.  Which pieces?   1)  The types of turnover you’re dealing with, and 2) Unsolicited job offers (dun –Dun -DUN!  Look out stealthy employers, we’re on to you.)

Using a national sample of data from both “leavers” and “stayers” (yes, they didn’t just use information collected from employees on their way out), these authors analyzed 4 different groups of leavers to figure out why each group decided to hit the highway.  Below is a breakdown of the groups examined:

Group 1 = Searched for a job while they had a job, then quit their current job

Group 2 = Quit their current job, then went off to search for a different job

Group 3 = Accepted an unsolicited job offer (sneaky sneaky)

Group 4 = Quit their job to focus on non-career related aspects of life (e.g., family,

So what did the authors find?

· Job satisfaction was way more important for Groups 1 & 2 than Groups 3 &4 (If I’m looking for a job while I’m currently employed or if I outright quit my job before I have another option, I’m probably not a happy camper at the time)

· The “type” of turnover (or the type of leaver) MATTERS when predicting turnover

· The current unemployment rate was not supported as an important influence (but, watch out – there might have been some range restriction issues there)

· Demographics influenced turnover in Group 4 (mainly employees who were female, part-time, and in service positions turned over in this group)

· 40% of the turnover in this study was from Groups 3 & 4 (23% of the sample’s turnover was due to unsolicited job offers!)

What can practitioners do

1) Recognize that unsolicited job offers are an important reality of turnover

2) Remedy turnover according to the TYPE of turnover an organization most frequently faces

For you table-lovers out there, see below for how this article may be useful in practice:

oup # Type of Turnover Questions to Ask

1 Employees search for other jobs while hired, find another job, then leave

Are the employees satisfied with their jobs?

2 Employees quit their jobs without other options lined up

Are the employees satisfied with their jobs?

3 Other companies are stealing high-performing employees away

What is the visibility of the employees to other companies?  Is it worth the energy to seek out information about the strategies used by unsolicited employers and the types of offers sneaking in?  Are current employees’ compensation packages competitive? Do better opportunities for development exist elsewhere?  Are promotions rewarding enough?

4 Employees are leaving for non-career-related reasons (e.g., family care) Does the organization offer policies that are supportive of employees with families?  Is child care offered?  Are flexible work schedules offered?  Do employees have the opportunity to work at home if needed?

In conclusion, happiness doesn’t make retention rates go ‘round (only the world).

Academy of Management: Understanding Voluntary Turnover: Path-Specific Job Satisfaction Effects and the Importance of Unsolicited Job Offers’.  August, 2008