The greater the use of motivation-enhancing practices such as pay raises and promotions, and empowerment-enhancing practices, such as quality-improvement and problem-solving groups, the less group-level turnover the organization will have. This finding is demonstrated in the current long-term study. These results support SDT (self determination theory) which explains that people need autonomy; they need to feel competent; and, thirdly, they need to feel as though they belong to the group. HR executives know that by meeting these needs, the organization is able to increase intrinsic motivation and positive work attitudes (including commitment to the organization). In contrast, the greater use of skill-enhancing practices (like tuition- reimbursement and formal training programs) was not linked to less turnover, rather it was linked to greater turnover, and the level of commitment to the organization didn’t make a difference.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
This study found these results using 20 stand-alone business units of a large food distribution company. A total of 1,748 employees and 93 job groups under 20 HR managers provided the data. The HR practices, commitment, and turnover were all measured at the group level, rather than at the individual level. This macro-level of study provides evidence to support macro theories regarding optimization of organizational functioning.
THE BOTTOM LINE FOR ORGANIZATIONS
So what are the key takeaways for HR executives? One is that the greater use of motivation and empowerment-enhancing practices leads to lower group turnover rates. For example, the authors give the following estimate for this sample, using model results: one could expect that a one standard deviation increase in motivation- enhancing practices will be associated with a 19.64% decrease in voluntary turnover. Another key takeaway is that to offset or control aggregate voluntary turnover, organizations might also increase the use of motivation and empowerment-enhancing strategies that might directly impact voluntary turnover, such as merit pay, promotions and other incentives.
Gardner, T. M., Wright, P. M., & Moynihan, L. M. (2011). The Impact of Motivation, Empowerment, and Skill-Enhancing Practices on Aggregate Voluntary Turnover: The Mediating Effect of Collective Affective Commitment. Personnel Psychology, 64, 315-35.
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