Mitchell and colleagues’ (2001) work on job embeddedness highlights the role of context, which includes both the work environment and the larger community. The extent to which employees are enmeshed in these environments is considered to be a key factor that influences whether they will stay with an organization (Mitchell et al., 2001). A robust body of evidence supports the fact that embeddedness impacts turnover (Dawley & Andrews, 2012; Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008; Heavey et al., 2013; Holtom & Inderrieden, 2006; Smith Holtom & Mitchell, 2011). In fact, research suggests that both on- and off-the-job embeddedness predict turnover beyond attitudinal variables (Crossley, Bennet, Jex & Burnfield, 2007; Jiang et al., 2012; Lee, Mitchell, Sablynski, Burton & Holtom, 2004; Mitchell et al., 2001). Job embeddedness is also indirectly related to turnover through job search behaviour, such that individuals who are more embedded in their jobs are less likely to engage in a job search and leave the organization (Holtom, Burton & Crossley, 2012; Swider, Boswell & Zimmerman, 2011).

Mitchell identifies three components of job embeddedness: links, fit and sacrifice. Links or relational ties are made to people in the individual’s organization or community. Relational ties that may lead to lower turnover intentions and turnover include mentoring relationships (Friedman & Holtom, 2002; Payne & Huffman, 2005), social network ties (Friedman & Holtom, 2002; Mossholder, Settoon & Henagan, 2005), perceived coworker support (Mossholder, et al., 2005), satisfaction with co-workers (Golden, 2007), perceived supervisor support (Maertz et al., 2007), high leader-member exchange (Ballinger, Lehman, & Schoorman, 2010; Bauer, Erdogan, Liden & Wayne, 2006; Han & Jekel, 2011; Harris, Kacmar & Witt, 2005), transformational leadership (Tse, Huang & Lam, 2013) and volunteer work (Haivas, Hofmans & Pepermans, 2013).

Sacrifice represents what an employee will have to give up on leaving the organization and includes on- and off-the-job benefits. For example, many high-performing organizations have high-commitment HR practices that enhance employee skills, motivation and opportunities (e.g., training, incentive programmes, opportunities for advancement, supervisor support). These practices increase job satisfaction and so motivate employees to stay. Many employees would not be willing to sacrifice rewards that they may not get elsewhere. Competitive compensation packages, opportunities for learning, high-involvement work practices and long-term investments in employee development have all been linked to lower turnover intentions and turnover (Batt & Colvin, 2011; Boro§ & Cur§eu, 2013; Chang, Wang & Huang, 2013; Ng & Butts, 2009; Shaw, Delery, Jenkins & Gupta, 1998), typically through increased job satisfaction (e.g., Garcia-Chas et al., 2014).

By taking into account links, relationships and sacrifices, this job embeddedness model augments our ability to understand why people stay or leave their jobs. However, more recent research by Maertz (2001) and Maertz and Griffeth (2004) emphasize that turnover is a personal decision, and people stay or leave depending on the extent of control they have over their options and choices.

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