New Horizons in Management series
Edited by George Saridakis and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 3: Understanding and measuring employee turnover
This chapter revisits a paper in the International Journal of Management Reviews (IJMR): ‘Unweaving Leaving: The Use of Models in the Management of Employee Turnover’ (Morrell, Loan-Clarke and Wilkinson, 2001; Wiley, copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd), to examine some central and enduring questions in the study of employee turnover. It begins with an outline of the justification for carrying out research on turnover, and then traces forward the main theoretical approaches identified in that earlier IJMR review paper (referred to for simplicity from now as ‘Unweaving Leaving’). Core to this discussion is an account of three key and recurring themes in employee turnover: meaning, measurement and understanding. These can be related in turn to the broader organizational goal of effective management of turnover, though employee turnover is not simply an organizational or managerial problem. ‘Unweaving Leaving’ took an approach that focused on different theoretical models to understand turnover better, and this chapter continues with that focus. It is designed to offer a theoretical grounding in different approaches to conceptualizing and understanding how and why people leave their jobs. Although it is a complicated phenomenon, and although there are many sets of contingencies and complexities associated with turnover (temporal, social, contextual, relational, epistemological, managerial and so on) there are also points of theoretical and empirical stability and regularity. The continuing relevance of the models studied here shows this.
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