What Increases Public Employees' Turnover Intention?

By Kim, Jungin | Public Personnel Management, December 2015 | Go to article overview

What Increases Public Employees' Turnover Intention?


Kim, Jungin, Public Personnel Management


Introduction

The status of public employees in agencies of the Korean government has been traditionally perceived as secured, because the Korean Civil Service Act guarantees public employees' status. In the past few years, however, as Korean public agencies have attempted to become more innovative and competitive, they have introduced several organizational changes and civil service reforms. For example, many Korean agencies have experienced structural changes, such as integration or separation of organizations. Similarly, all agencies have recently introduced civil service reforms, another nexus of recent change, resulting in new types of performance and client-oriented personnel management systems, such as senior executive service, 360-degree evaluations, performance-based salaries, outsourcing, privatization, exchange work programs between central agencies, and flexible work hours. In addition, unexpected disasters, like the Sewol ferry disaster of April 2014, required public agencies to change government's role and function in more efficient ways. Moreover, financial deficits since October 2014 have jeopardized the function of local governments in South Korea, which has been to provide local residents with public service, such as free meal service and nurture service. Such drastic changes have made Korean public employees apprehensive about their jobs and the new organizational structures in which they operate, particularly because the new personnel systems do not guarantee civil servants' job stability and prospects for promotion. In addition, such changes generally do not convey a clear organizational management strategy. Instead, public employees' concern for their jobs increased following many of these changes, which is likely to result in employee stress (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993). Such job stress and burnout from their jobs might cause the increase in public employees' turnover intention. Perceived turnover intention, which would eventually lead to organizational crisis, is a key variable influenced by many organizational and individual factors.

Research on turnover intention often focuses on the influences of organizational or individual characteristics because job stress, burnout, and psychological instability could increase employees' turnover intention (e.g., Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Cotton & Tuttle, 1986; Huang, Chuang, & Lin, 2003). Job conditions associated with job stress and task overload are related to workers' turnover intention, and employees with high levels of burnout in the workplace tend to leave their jobs. Accordingly, turnover intention may depend on the ways in which organizational and individual factors influence employees' physical and psychological status.

Previous research on the effect of organizational or individual characteristics on turnover intention has focused primarily on the relations among the external factors (e.g., unemployment rate, union presence), structural factors (e.g., satisfaction with pay and task), and employee turnover intention (Cotton & Tuttle, 1986). Few studies on turnover intention of public employees have been interested in both organizational and individual factors associated with social support, job motivation, public service motivation (PSM), and burnout in the local governments. Thus, this study attempts to fill those gaps by examining public employees' perceived work conditions and their effect on the public employees' turnover intention using conservation of resources (COR) theory. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was utilized to analyze the data collected via survey from revenue officers in South Korean local governments with an aim to describe the extent to which public employees perceive turnover intention within their organizations and to identify factors that determine the employees' perception of turnover intention related to social support, job motivation, and PSM. In addition, this study examined the path from social support, job motivation, and PSM to turnover intention through work conditions (e. …

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