When Will Job Satisfaction Reduce Turnover?

Topic(s): job satisfaction, turnover
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: The Power of Momentum: A New Model of Dynamic Relationships Between Job Satisfaction Change and Turnover Intentions
Authors: G. Chen, R.E. Ployhart, H. Cooper Thomas, N. Anderson, P.D. Bliese
Reviewed by: Neil Morelli

Let’s say you’re interested in using a job satisfaction (JS) survey to help predict turnover. Which would you say is more important, the absolute value of JS or the change in JS over time? After proposing that JS is especially salient to an employee when it has deviated from an earlier reference point, Chen et al. (2011) argued the latter.


The researchers introduced the idea of “job satisfaction momentum,” or the systematic change in job satisfaction over time, and tested if it would influence the nature of the relationship between JS and turnover intention. Their results indicated that JS change is negatively related to turnover intention change; as JS increased, turnover intention declined. In other words, it was the systematic change in JS that helped determine the change in turnover intentions.


The researchers suggested some useful implications for managers in light of these findings. First, a single yearly organizational attitude survey for employees may not be the most accurate due to the changing nature of attitudes and the influence these changes have on turnover intentions. Second, employees can be encouraged to stay when beneficial future changes are announced, thereby giving employees a more positive view of “tomorrow.” Regardless of the application, researchers and practitioners should be aware that the relationship between job attitudes and behavior is a dynamic one.


Chen, G., Ployhart, R.E., Cooper Thomas, H., Anderson, N., & Bliese, P.D. (2011). The power of momentum: A new model of dynamic relationships between job satisfaction change and turnover intentions. Academy of Management Journal, 54(1), 159-181.

Image credit: istockphoto/FabrikaCr