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Four Reasons for Turnover That You May Not Know About

January 20, 2015

A challenge often faced by organizations is high turnover. This is particularly problematic when the unemployment rate is very low and the demand for jobs is high. In this situation, individuals are much more likely to bounce from job-to-job in search for the next best offer. We have previously discussed the idea that not all turnover is bad. Functional turnover, or the good kind, exists when poor performers remove themselves from the organization. Despite there being benefits to some types of turnover, we still want to avoid turnover from occurring.

So, what are some of the causes of turnover? The first one that comes to mind, which we tend to focus on, is a poor hiring system. Hiring systems may not be effectively identifying individuals who are skilled for the job or who would be a good fit for the role and organization. This is a good place to start when trying to reduce turnover issues because you are able to prevent poor performers from even getting into the organization from the beginning.

However, we don’t live in a vacuum. There are multiple reasons why turnover may be occurring in your organization. Here are four additional reasons why turnover exists:

1) Lack of perceived justice

Organizational justice is a fairly broad term that essentially boils down to whether employees feel that fairness exists in the organization. Perceptions of justice arise from whether individuals feel that processes are consistent, accurate, and free of bias; outcomes are based on equity; leadership and employees are respectful and sensitive; and information presented is transparent and truthful.

Research has found that when justice exists in an organization, absenteeism, turnover, and delinquent behaviors are reduced and overall commitment to the organization is enhanced. Organizational justice can even be tied to selection systems. Lack of justice is one of the major reasons why job candidates challenge selection assessments. Therefore, we always recommend using a consistent process that is well explained to candidates. Additionally, organizations need to have a standard process for making hiring decisions and should treat all candidates with respect.

2) Low job satisfaction

When employees enjoy their job and where they work, they are much more likely to want to stay on the job. Satisfaction can arise from feelings of autonomy at work, job complexity and variety, feelings of organizational support, lack of stress, and self-efficacy in what one does on the job. Another driver of satisfaction that we often talk about is motivational fit.

When there is an alignment between employees’ values and desires for a job/organization and the offerings of the job/organization, employees are much more likely to be satisfied. This is one area that we can assess in candidates during the selection process. Outside of ensuring that the candidate has the skills and abilities necessary for the job, we want to make sure that the candidate is a good fit for the job. This can help us to reduce turnover from occurring.

3) Job Stress

Similar to turnover, there can be good and bad forms of stress. On the positive side, challenge-stressors, which include increased job scope and responsibility, are motivating. These stressors are related to job satisfaction. However, hindrance stressors, which include things like role ambiguity, organizational politics, and job security, can have a negative impact on work outcomes. In particular, these stressors are related to strain, turnover, and withdrawal behaviors. To reduce turnover, it’s best to keep potential hindrance stressors to a minimum.

4) Little commitment

Employees are committed when they experience high levels of attachment to the job and organization. Low levels of commitment increase the likelihood that employees will engage in withdrawal behaviors and leave the job. When employees do not have an opportunity to develop on the job, engage in training, and expand their role, they are more likely to have lower levels of commitment. Essentially, the less involvement they experience on the job, the less attachment they feel to the organization. To reduce turnover, make investments in employees so they feel like they are valued individuals.

As mentioned, there is not one cause of turnover. It’s often due to a culmination of many reasons. Now that you know some of these reasons for turnover, see what changes you can make in your organization to reduce the rate of turnover.

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Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.