Predicting Police Job Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions: The Role of Social Support and Police Organisational Variables

Article excerpt

The retention of operational staff, particularly females, within the police services and other male-dominated occupations, has received some recent attention. The introduction of organisational practices which aim to reduce inter-domain conflict, is a current intervention employed to reduce turnover levels. The importance of adequate supervisor support is one such intervention and has produced considerable recent interest. This paper tests the influence of organisational variables (sexual harassment) and individual variables (perceptions of social support) upon job satisfaction and turnover criterions, using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) analysis. Four hundred male and female New Zealand police officers were invited to participate in a longitudinal research project, involving the completion of two questionnaire surveys. The experiences of harassment and the quantity of leave taken were associated with turnover intentions. Supervisor support was a strong predictor of job satisfaction and also an indirect predictor of turnover intentions. Intrinsic job satisfaction was an especially strong direct predictor of turnover intentions, although only within the cross-sectional analyses. The results also support the distinction between the two types of job satisfaction, intrinsic verses extrinsic, in the context of turnover research. The implications regarding the training of police supervisors in order to improve (female) retention levels, are discussed.

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Employee turnover occurs when an individual exits an organisation either voluntarily or involuntarily. Although some organisational turnover is unavoidable, and may even be desirable, voluntary turnover is difficult to predict and can reduce the overall effectiveness of an organisation (Smith & Brough, 2003).

Turnover intentions

Turnover intentions refer to an individual's estimated probability that they will leave an organisation at some point in the near future. Turnover intentions are identified as the immediate precursor to turnover behaviour (Mobley, Horner,& Hollingsworth, 1978; Tett & Meyer, 1993). The identification of the variables contributing to turnover intentions is considered to be effective in reducing actual turnover levels (Maertz & Campion, 1998).

Three primary groups of variables have been identified as influencing turnover intentions (a) organisational variables, such as job satisfaction, occupational stress and gender discrimination, (b) individual demographic variables, including gender, marital status and tenure, and (c) external variables, such as the availability of alternative employment (Cotton & Tuttle, 1986). The relationship between turnover intentions and organisational variables is of particular importance, with considerable attention being applied to low job satisfaction and high psychological strain levels (George & Jones, 1996; O'Driscoll & Beehr, 1994). For example, in a longitudinal investigation of Israeli police officers (80% male), Koslowsky (1991) found that both job satisfaction and organisational commitment predicted turnover intentions over time (see also Vandenberg & Nelson, 1999).

In terms of the individual demographic variables, female employees generally have higher turnover levels than males, while married individuals tend to leave their employment in lower numbers, as compared to other employees (Cotton & Tuttle, 1986). The association between married status and gender in turnover decisions has been subject to some recent evaluation. Mano-Negrin and Kirschenbaum (2002) for example, compared the turnover decision-making process occurring in both married male and female employees. These authors identified that the turnover decision-making process is interdependent on the spousal conditions of employment, and involves other family and economic considerations also. However, Mano-Negrin and Kirschenbaum (2002) also suggested that the turnover decision-making process for both males and females is primarily dependent upon their own work-related factors. …