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Individual decision modelling

In addition to between-subject differences in the decision to quit, how a single employee decides to quit can vary greatly depending on a number of variables (e.g., life-stage, extent of job embeddedness). To examine within-subject differences in the turnover decision process, we concur with Russell’s (2013) call to make more use of decision simulation exercises. Focusing more on how employees decide to quit can help researchers estimate individual models that map idiosyncratic decisions to stay or leave an organization.


The long-standing presumption that staying and leaving are related behaviours (Harman, Lee, Mitchell, Felps & Owens, 2007; Mitchell et al., 2001; Steel, Griffeth & Hom, 2002) has led to the false assumption that the factors contributing to turnover are related to retention. Because staying and leaving are psychologically distinct constructs, the decision processes and antecedents for each may differ, making it important to examine them independently. Indeed, Steel and colleagues (2002) argued that different motives may be salient for stayers (e.g., a strong relationship with a supervisor) and leaving (e.g., career advancement). Many organizations do indeed conduct ‘stay’ interviews. Future research should continue to explore why people stay in their organizations; results could be used to bolster retention efforts.

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