2022. december 15. Dr. Papp Gábor

Turnover intention and its predictors


Why do employees quit even though they are satisfied with their salaries? Reasons behind avoidable fluctuation

Everything you did not want to know about fluctuation, but still worth knowing as it is an existing phenomenon. Employees’ behavior significantly changed due to the transformation of economy and labour market. These attitudinal changes can materialize as an increase in job and career transitions’ frequency (Ferraro, Prussia & Mehrotra, 2018). Unfortunately, recent events have intensified uncertainty in the labour market, and fluctuation has turned from an everyday phenomenon into an urging problem for employers.


„I simply cannot hire as many as they leave”

I cannot get the above statement I heard at a conference this summer out of my head. Employee turnover constantly challenges HR professionals and causes persistent uncertainty for the productivity of organizations.

Although turnover and career transition can be an opportunity for improvement for employees (Savickas, 2012) and has certain benefits for employers as well, usually it is considered a highly expensive process (Ghapanchi & Aurum, 2011).

Pros & Cons

Turnover can be beneficial for employers because replacement workers are often paid lower salaries than those that they replaced. It also provides an opportunity for the infusion of new knowledge, ideas and experience, in addition to enhancing the value and promotion opportunities of those who stay (Ghapanchi & Aurum, 2011).

On the downside, recruiting and training have direct, while disruptions in organizational processes have indirect costs (Thatcher, Stepina & Boyle, 2003). According to Blitzer (2006), the costs of voluntary turnover amount to 25-33% of the quitting employee’s annual income. Furthermore, there is a risk for organizations of losing employees with relevant and valuable work experience, as well as their knowledge about the operation of the organization (McKnight, Phillips & Hardgrave, 2008). Besides this, high turnover rate substantially lowers the morale of other employees (Johnson, 1995).

Some turnover is unpreventable (e. g. medical reasons), yet in most cases quitting could be prevented. Thus, it is essential for company management to understand what factors influence turnover intentions so they can lower turnover in their organizations (Ghapanchi & Aurum, 2011).

Is turnover necessarily bad?!
Sometimes employers are happy if certain employees decide to quit. However, in most cases turnover is considered to be a negative issue. To fully understand what we are dealing with, it is worth seperating different types of turnover (Ellett, Ellis & Westbrook, 2007):

1. Unpreventable turnover
As mentioned above, some turnover cannot be prevented (e.g., retirement, family issues, illness).

2. Desirable turnover
This means the leaving of incompetent, malcontent employees. In these cases, turnover can be beneficial, as it can increase productivity and morale among those who stay.

3. Undesirable turnover
In this case, skilled and competent employees leave the organization against the employer’s will and interest. This is the type of turnover every employer fears and the type that made us write this article.

Employees usually do not decide on leaving the organization all of a sudden. Their actions are motivated by complex social, economic and psychological factors (Udechukwu & Mujtaba, 2007). Turnover is generally the result of a thorough and elaborate process which means assessing the situation, wighting different options and pondering feelings (Carley, 1992).

What motivates turnover?

As with every independent action, the first thing we need is intent. In this case, the intent is turnover intention itself.

Turnover intention is defined as ’a conscious and deliberate willfulness to leave the organization’ (Tett & Meyer, 1993), i.e., the subjective probability that an employee will change their job within a certain time period (Sousa-Poza & Henneberger, 2004).

Turnover intention reflects the employee’s perceptions, beliefs, motivations and attitudes towards the organization (Mobley, 1977), while intentions are usually accurate indicators of behavior (Alam & Mohammad, 2010). Research confirms that turnover intention and actual turnover are strongly related. Turnover intention is one of the main and immediate precursors of actual turnover (e. g. Griffeth, Hom & Gaertner, 2000; Kaur & Mohindru, 2013; Staffelbach, 2008).

Ngo-Henha (2017) reviewed main turnover intention theories based on contemporary literature. These 8 theories are addressing the issue of turnover intention from different aspects while answering the question of why do employees