Decision Making in the Workplace: A Unified Perspective

By Lee Roy Beach | Go to book overview

6
WHY EMPLOYEES QUIT
Thomas W. Lee University of WashingtonVoluntary employee turnover has been of interest to managers since the beginning of the 20th century (e.g., Barnard, 1938). Driven in part by this managerial attention, organizational scholars have also shown a long-standing academic interest in understanding the dynamics of employee turnover (e.g., March & Simon, 1958). Since 1977, numerous psychological theories of employee turnover have been proposed ( Hom & Griffeth, 1995; Hulin, 1991; Mobley, 1977; Mobley, Griffeth, Hand, & Meglino, 1979; Price & Mueller, 1886; Steers & Mowday, 1981). Correspondingly, a large number of empirical studies that test these turnover models have been reported as well. Given this sizable amount of information, it may be timely to pause and take stock of the more recent thinking on employee turnover. Thus, this chapter, based on the most recent interpretations of the academic research evidence, offers coherent explanations for why people voluntarily quit their organizations. Consider the following examples.
Case 1: A productive and job satisfied employee quits in a routinized (and almost casual) fashion. In the ski resort industry, for example, many employees enter with the idea of working for a fixed period of time. When that period of time ends, such an employee quits almost automatically.
Case 2: A productive and long-term employee abruptly and unexpectedly quits with no immediate job opportunities at hand. In the health care industry, for instance, major efforts at cost containment have led to significant changes in the relationships between nurses and their patients. Some nurses consider these changes to be so abhorrent that they simply quit when the hospital implements these new cost-containing nurse-patient practices.

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