Managing Voluntary Turnover

Paul T.Y. Preenen, Irene E. De Pater, Annelies E.M. Vianen, all of University of Amsterdam, and Laura Keijzer, of TNO Quality of Life, collaborated on “Managing Voluntary Turnover through Challenging Assignments,” published in Online First in Group & Organization Management. Professor Preenen provided an additional commentary regarding the article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

First, academics in the field of management and organizational behavior. Second, managers, consultants, and other practitioners.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I was inspired to investigate the relationship between challenging assignments and voluntary turnover by popular literatures that stressed the importance of job challenge for employee retention. Moreover, I often heard people say that they want to leave their jobs because they don’t feel challenged (anymore). However, surprisingly, it has never been investigated empirically whether and why challenging employees can help organizations to retain their employees. Given the importance of finding ways to maintain personnel for organizations, I felt the current study was warranted.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

No, we did not encounter any surprising findings.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

In today’s highly competitive and dynamic labor market, it is of utmost importance for organizations to understand how to retain their valuable employees. In view of our findings that challenging assignments can enhance on-the-job learning and lower voluntary turnover, organizations need to seek ways and opportunities to provide their employees with challenging assignments. Supervisors and managers in particular should play an active role in providing their employees with challenging tasks.

As supervisors play such an important role in the amount of challenging assignments their employees perform, I advocate that future research should focus on gaining a thorough understanding of the factors that influence supervisors’ task allocation decisions.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

My research focuses on antecedents, characteristics, and consequences of job challenge, so the current study fits perfectly in my line of research.

How did your paper change during the review process?

The review process helped us in a great manner. Because of some great suggestions of our reviewers, we were able to improve our theoretical rationale underlying the study, as well as the way we analyzed our data.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

The present sample merely consisted of employees working in the healthcare and welfare industry. Therefore, if we could do this study again, we would like to use different samples of people working in different industries to investigate whether our current findings can be generalized to other industries.

Moreover, although we used a two-wave design in the present study, it would have been nice to add some extra waves to better study the impact of challenging assignments and on-the-job learning on voluntary turnover.

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