Should I Stay or Should I Leave? Perceptions of Age Discrimination, Organizational Justice, and Employee Attitudes on Intentions to Leave

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

The present study tested the relationship among demographic and work characteristics, perceived age discrimination, organizational justice, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intention. A sample of 251 engineers associated with the Florida Engineering Society completed an online survey. Findings indicated that age was a significant predictor of age discrimination and that both variables revealed a curvilinear relationship. Younger engineers perceived significantly more age discrimination than their older counterparts. A variety of demographic and work characteristics were found to be significant predictors of the dependent variables, including intentions to leave. Limitations, practical implications, conclusions, and recommendations for future research are also discussed.

Introduction

Management research has focused on perceptions of injustice and discrimination, as both have been found to be associated with negative outcomes, including intentions to leave an organization (Berg, 1991; DeConinck & Bachmann, 1994; Duncan & Loretto, 2004; Foley, Hang-yue, & Wong, 2005; Griffeth, Horn & Gaertner, 2000; Kwon, 2006; Loi, Hang-yue, & Foley, 2006; Sanchez & Brock, 1996). Workforce turnover may have many negative effects on an organization including diminished workforce productivity, high costs of recruiting, selecting, and training replacement employees, and diminished morale and team cohesion (Berg, 1991). Understanding possible causes of voluntary turnover intentions may provide useful insight for human resource managers, behavioral scientists, sociologists, and employers alike. This study sought to focus on both organizational factors (perceived age discrimination and organizational justice) and individual work-related factors (employee attitudes including job satisfaction and organizational commitment) that may contribute to turnover intentions among employees.

A comprehensive review of the literature supports that perceived age discrimination, organizational justice, and employee attitudes (job satisfaction and organizational commitment) may all play a role in contributing to turnover intentions (Berg, 1991 ; DeConinck & Bachmann, 1994; Duncan & Loretto, 2004; Employers Forum on Age, 2000; Foley et al., 2006; Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982; Samad, 2006a). The research interest on these themes stems from the concern for possible behavioral consequences that include not only employee turnover, but productivity, absenteeism, participation, work withdrawal, and retirement. Drawing on past literature and theoretical underpinnings, the main purpose of this study was to examine employee perceptions of age discrimination, organizational justice, and employee attitudes as factors that may contribute to an employee's intentions to leave.

Literature Review

Businesses in the current work environment succeed by exploiting core competencies and thereby gaining a sustainable competitive advantage over rivals. Perhaps the most crucial of these core competencies in a firm is its human capital (Khandekar & Sharma, 2005; Pfeffer, 1994). Past empirical research supports that as markets become increasingly competitive people are the most sustainable source of competitive advantage (Khandekar & Sharma, 2005; Liao, 2005; Reich, 1990; Stewart, 1990). As such, there exists a need for businesses to focus on the development of their human capital and to decrease employee turnover, as many businesses face the loss of talented employees.

Recent research supports the prevalence of voluntary turnover in many organizations today (Clugston, 2000; Foley et al., 2006; Goolsby, 2005). Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, and Graske (2001) found among some of the most at risk industries were those related to high technology positions including some that may be considered within the realm of engineering where the average employment tenure is one year. …