The costs associated with employees leaving their jobs are often very high. And during the current Great Resignation, the ability to understand why employees leave and predict turnover is key to understanding your workforce and give you the ability to apply specific measures that influence the right employees to stay.
In general, past studies have suggested that satisfaction and commitment have affected the rate of a company’s turnover. However, others have suggested that the perception of injustice and burnout can influence employee attitudes and affect turnover.
Research has found that two major categories of predictor variables are job attitudes (like satisfaction and commitment) and ease of movement (reflected in perceived alternatives and job search behavior).
In a study called Why People Stay: Using Job Embeddedness to Predict Voluntary Turnover, job embeddedness represents a broad constellation of influences on employee retention. It combines two research-related ideas, embedded figures and field theory.
Embedded figures are immersed in employees’ backgrounds. These figures are attached to them and hard to separate from. Embedded figures become part of their surroundings.
Field theory represents the idea that people have a perceptual life space in which the aspects of their lives are represented and connected. These connections can be few or many, close or distant.
Drawing on these ideas, job embeddedness acts like a net or web in which an individual can become stuck.
It is this overall level of embeddedness, rather than specific elements of embeddedness, that seems to affect an employee’s interest in staying or pursuing other opportunities.
The critical aspects of job embeddedness are:
- the extent to which people have links to other people or activities
- the extent to which their jobs and communities fit in with the other aspects of their life
- the ease with which links can be broken—what they would give up if they left (for example, if they will have to physically move to another city or state)
Within the foundations for job embeddedness are three other sets of ideas that have emerged:
Off-the-job factors are important for attachment. Non-work commitments like spouses, hobbies, and children can have a strong influence on job attitudes and attachment.
Other organization-focused predictors
A variety of factors have been associated with retention that are not attitudinal but organizational. For example, many companies use teams to induce attachments, and there are "constituent commitments" that can include attachments to unions, teams, and other work-related groups.
New turnover theory
Employees who are relatively satisfied with their jobs, and aren’t searching for other jobs before leaving, tend to leave because of a shock event.
Shock events frequently occur off the job. For example, a spouse may relocate, children may need a ride to and from a sport, or a global pandemic.
These different and nontraditional ideas helped to develop the job embeddedness construct.
Job embeddedness improves the prediction of voluntary turnover. It is not a unified construct—it is a multidimensional aggregate of on-and-off-the-job forces that might keep someone at a job.
The correlations show that embeddedness is positively and significantly correlated with job satisfaction.
People can become embedded in many ways, and employees who are more embedded, may be absent less, work harder, perform better, and engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors than people who are less embedded.
For more information on job embeddedness, and a full breakdown of the studies, please read Why People Stay: Using Job Embeddedness to Predict Voluntary Turnover.
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