Influence of employee satisfaction on staff turnover

It was assumed that the combination between dissatisfaction with the work (employee satisfaction) and available alternatives leads to leaving an organization (Mobley, 1977). There are a number of points that have not been sufficiently addressed until then. An important argument is that most theories have not paid attention to mutual relations, social pressure and commitment.

In addition, mechanisms of motivation are not described while this is of great importance (Maertz & Griffeth, 2004). In this paper, therefore, the role of employee satisfaction in staff turnover discussed.

Shocks to complement employee satisfaction

Knowledge of these shocks can be used to reduce dysfunctional staff turnover And to gain competitive benefits in the field of human and social capital in the long term.

The degree of employee satisfaction is a factor, but insufficient and too limited to be the dominant cause for staff turnover (Holtom et al., 2005). The Hom-Griffeth model (Hom & Griffeth, 1991) was one of the first models to observe that 'shocks' occur. Shocks are based on the external environment that can ultimately lead to staff turnover. The final departure from the organisation takes place on the initiative of the employee. In this human-based approach, the organisation and stakeholders are external players that can cause both positive and negative shocks to employees (Holtom et al., 2005). Within this theory of Hom and Griffeth (1991), a negative or positive experience is central. Knowledge of these shocks can be used to reduce dysfunctional staff turnover and, in the long term, gain competitive advantages in terms of human and social capital (Becker, Huselid, & Ulrich, 2001; Pfeffer, 1995).

Knowledge-intensive organisations that pay attention to this are, according to Becker et al. (2001), able to create competitive advantage. Therefore, it is important for knowledge-intensive organisations to create insight into both employee satisfaction as shocks experienced by employees. The principle of shocks is explained on the next page.

Shocks and employee satisfaction

The shocks are divided into four standard patterns. These patterns play a role in 90 per cent of staff turnover play a role and can therefore be classified in this model (Holtom, et al., 2005).

Pattern 1

An employee leaves the organisation without considering his current connections with the organisation and alternative positions. The degree of employee satisfaction is not relevant within this movement. An example of this is that the employee's partner has found an interesting job abroad (shock) and the employee wants to move with him. The question is therefore whether the organisation would be able to influence this.

Pattern 2

employee turnover within this group is caused by shock. The shock leads to the re-evaluation of social connections within the organisation. This is explained by the erosion of an employee's value image. The employee then leaves the organisation without an alternative job. An example of this is that an employee is excluded from promotion after which, after consideration, the employee decides to leave the organisation. It is important that employee satisfaction about the work for the shock may be high and therefore this is not a representative picture.

Pattern 3

A shock within this pattern leads to image damage between the employee and the organisation. The employee compares his current job with alternative jobs outside the organisation. This may also involve an offered position. Despite employee satisfaction about the work, the employee may choose to leave the organisation.

Pattern 4 A/b

Lower employee satisfaction within this group is the cause of voluntary staff turnover. The employee becomes conscious about dissatisfaction with work and decides to leave the organization.

Pattern one is within the research the pattern that occurs relatively frequently and predictably.

Within pattern three, 91 percent of the employees leave the organization unexpectedly Holtom et al. (2005). This pattern is in particular within comparable knowledge-intensive organisations such as accountancy firms. Pattern one is within the research the pattern that occurs relatively frequently and predictably.

Eight forces model

In order to fill in factors missing from the literature in addition to these shocks, Maertz and Griffeth (2004) used a framework to explain what are the forces that lead to conservation or staff turnover. In the framework, eight forces apply that affect the flow of an employee:

(1) Affective forces: This is about emotionality within the organization. Poor emotional states lead to outflow or loss of commitment.

(2) Calculated forcesThis is a rational force whereby the employee rationally considers the chances of achieving his important values and objectives. A negative outcome leads to staff turnover.

(3) Contractual forces: These forces focus on the assumed obligations in relation to the psychological contract. This depends on the adopted standard of reciprocity.

(4) Behavioural forces: This involves the desire to reduce psychological costs by investing in participation within the organisation. Higher costs do not motivate investing in participation and lower costs. At lower costs, the employee is more inclined to leave the organization.

(5) Alternative forces: This is the extent and strength of its own effectiveness in obtaining alternative positions outside the organisation. High efficiency and effectiveness lead to staff turnover.

(6) Normative forces: meeting shared expectations outside the organisation. Assuming that there is motivation to meet these external expectations, this will influence staff turnover.

(7) Moral forcesThese forces are based on the link between behaviour and values regarding staff turnover. This differs from ' often changing a job is good ' until ' being faithful to an organization is a virtue '.

(8) binding forces: The motivation to stay or leave at an organization depends on the connection with direct colleagues and other groups within the organization. Connection with colleagues and other groups runs parallel to the association with the organization.

Low employee satisfaction according to Maertz and Griffeth (2005), does not have to lead directly to staff turnover. Emotions are not in employee satisfaction included, but play an important role according to Maertz and Griffieth (2005). The aforementioned factors provide indicators to staff turnover to be able to assess. An employee compares and appreciates all strengths between the current and alternative organisation. Alternative functions (5) is a crucial factor in the process of leaving a knowledge-intensive organisation. When an employee has no good alternative, the binding forces (8) weigh more heavily against leaving the organisation (Lee & Mitchell, 1994). When there is an alternative the employee will deal with the consideration more rationally.

Embedding in function

In addition to the idea of shocks and the aforementioned model of forces, the staff turnover According to Mitchell, Holtom, Lee and Erez (2001), job embeddedness is influenced by the degree to which the job is embedded. This involves (1) connections with other employees, teams and groups, (2) perception of suitability for the job, organisation and environment and (3) what an employee would give up when leaving the organisation (Mitchell et al., 2001). In this study, it has been shown that embedding of the job is an important mediating variable among factors that influence the employee's eventual leaving. The three dimensions; connections, suitability and sacrifice have both an organizational and communal component.

Psychological contract

According to Guest (1998), the state of a psychological contract determines whether an employee ultimately leaves the organisation. According to Rousseau (1989), a psychological contract is an individual belief about the terms and conditions of an exchange agreement between the employee and the organisation. According to this theory, organisational culture, HR policy, experience, expectations and alternatives are underlying factors. These factors determine the level of employee satisfaction, commitment, sense of security, relationships, motivation, etc. Due to the number of factors that play a role in the psychological contract, it is impossible to make it measurable (Freese, Schalk & Croon, 2008). In addition to this theory of Guest (1998), according to the research of Khilji and Wang (2006) employee satisfaction about the HR policy play an important role. According to Ongori (2007), the probability of voluntary employee turnover is significantly higher in organisations with a low level of satisfaction with HR services than in those with a better rated HR policy. This effect is stronger among younger employees than among older employees. Ongori (2007) summarises this in his literature review as poor implementation of HR policy, recruitment policy, management and lack of motivation.


There are several insights that explain the decision-making process of a departing employee. In the thinking of shocks, there are four patterns that an employee can go through before leaving. One pattern has the variable employee satisfaction as the most important reason for leaving an organisation. The other three patterns assume the presence of one or more shocks. These can be both positive and negative and are categorised into factors such as alternative job(s), predetermined outflow, etc. An important fact, in case of a shock, is that the pattern the employee follows is determined by the external environment.

Besides the shocks, there are also forces that play a role in an employee's outflow trajectory. This is a total of eight forces; (1) Affective forces, (2) calculated forces, (3) contractual forces, (4) behavioral forces, (5) alternative forces, (6) normative forces, (7) moral forces and (8) binding forces. These forces are constantly assessed and compared with other organizations. If the other organisation then provides the (5) alternative forces with a better future, the (8) binding forces will ultimately make it against the alternative forces.

Mitchell et al. (2001) states that staff turnover is explained by the degree of embedding within the job. Variables that explain this theory are: (1) attachment to environment, (2) perception of job suitability and (3) what is given up when the employee leaves the organisation. Besides the embedding, Guest (1998) mentions the psychological contract as an all-embracing basis. Here, organisational culture, HR policy, experience, expectations and alternatives are central as causes. The last explanation for leaving the organisation is that of Khilji and Wang (2006). They have shown in their research that employee satisfaction with HR policy is to a large extent voluntary. staff turnover within organisations. This effect is stronger among younger employees.

23th December 2014

2 Comments about "Influence of employee satisfaction on staff turnover"

  1. Natascha Reply

    Hi Barry Pietersen,

    I am currently writing my thesis and above is very valuable information! Do you perhaps also have the sources from which you got the above information? I am very curious!



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