Academic journal article Journal of Juvenile Justice

Factors Associated with Turnover Decision Making among Juvenile Justice Employees: Comparing Correctional and Non-Correctional Staff

Academic journal article Journal of Juvenile Justice

Factors Associated with Turnover Decision Making among Juvenile Justice Employees: Comparing Correctional and Non-Correctional Staff

Article excerpt

Introduction

Estimates of turnover among correctional personnel in juvenile facilities range between 20% and 25% per year (Minor, Wells, Angel, & Matz, 2011; Wright, 1993). High turnover not only impacts staff morale but also costs organizations approximately $10,000 to $20,000 per correctional employee due to recruitment, training, and hiring costs (Lambert & Hogan, 2009). Because correctional organizations rely heavily on correctional personnel to operate the facilities, secure residents, and address resident conflicts (Mitchell, Mackenzie, Styve, & Gover, 2000), it is important to highlight the significance of voluntary turnover within this cost model. Voluntary turnover occurs when an employee chooses to leave, whereas involuntary turnover occurs when an employee is terminated or laid off by the organization (Minor et al., 2011). Voluntary turnover is generally seen as more costly because it can be disruptive, contribute to employee burnout, and lower the morale of the organization (Minor, Wells, Lambert, & Keller, 2014; Wright, 1993). In contrast, involuntary turnover is typically less disruptive and is in the best interest of the organization (McShane & Williams, 1993). Given the constrained budgets and sizeable workload of most state correctional organizations, high voluntary turnover is a cost most agencies cannot afford to sustain. Considering the cost and importance of correctional personnel to the organization, it seems surprising that voluntary turnover has been a historically under-researched field, particularly within juvenile correctional organizations.

The present study contributes to the literature on correctional staff turnover in several important ways. First, it adds to the dearth of research on correctional staff working within juvenile facilities. Juvenile facilities differ from their adult counterparts in their rehabilitative mission and detention center structure, which could impact both the type of people who choose to work in a juvenile facility and their work experience in the facility (Wells, Minor, Angel, Matz, & Amato, 2009). Second, the present study measures actual voluntary turnover of state juvenile justice employees rather than turnover intent, a variable that more commonly appears in the literature. Some scholars argue that turnover intent can be used as a proxy for turnover behavior and assert that it can lead to negative outcomes on its own, such as decreased morale and low organizational commitment (Lambert & Paoline, 2010; Matz, Wells, Minor, & Angel, 2013; Tipton, 2002). In fact, Lambert, Hogan, and Barton (2001) and Lambert (2006) have constructed causal models of turnover intent to examine direct and indirect influence of turnover decisions. By contrast, other scholars have raised concerns that intent does not predict actual turnover (Lambert, Hogan, & Barton, 2002; Minor, Dawson-Edwards, Wells, Griffith, & Angel, 2009). Given the controversy in the literature, both constructs warrant further investigation. To our knowledge, only one other recent study has measured actual turnover of juvenile correctional officers (JCOs); Minor et al. (2011) used a sample of basic training academy graduates from the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice. The present study builds upon their work by examining the role of global job satisfaction and other factors in employee turnover with non-correctional and correctional staff. The majority of studies do not distinguish these two groups, leading to an incomplete picture of turnover in correctional institutions (Lambert et al., 2002). Third, correctional facilities can vary widely from state to state in terms of organizational structures (e.g., pay structures, promotion procedures), so findings from research in any given state may or may not translate to facilities in other states. Fourth, the present study includes measures of attraction to new job opportunities as well as qualitative findings. In fact, only one prior study of correctional staff included an open-ended, qualitative component, even though qualitative data may be able to capture employees' emotions and concerns not addressed through quantitative approaches (Minor et al. …

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