In the sphere of human resource management (HRM), much attention is paid to distinguishing such notions as ‘turnover’, ‘turnover intention’, and ‘retention’. Even though these concepts are usually linked to each other, for this study, it is important to focus on the employees’ turnover intentions as a result of their perceptions of implemented HRM practices. The reason is that the notion ‘turnover intention’ aims at illustrating the decisions of employees and their feelings regarding the possibility to stay in the organization or leave it that is caused by their perceptions of certain managerial practices (Rathi & Lee 2015; Tremblay, Dahan & Gianecchini 2014). From this point, in order to explain the rationale for the selection of the turnover intention as the dependent variable in the study, it is necessary to discuss differences in the usage of such notions as ‘turnover,’ ‘turnover intention’, and ‘retention’ in the HRM literature and practice in detail.
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In the HRM practice, ‘turnover’ is a practical phenomenon that is associated with the changes in the number of hired and fired employees. Cho and Lewis (2012) state that the notion of ‘turnover’ is most frequently used by HRM professionals in order to discuss the actual situation of changing jobs by employees. According to Lai and Kapstad (2009, p. 1988), turnover is not a desired phenomenon in the organisation because of its high costs. Therefore, managers aim to decrease the turnover rates and such associated negative factors as absenteeism and the lack of commitment while developing specific strategies, proposing rewards, and improving the work conditions (Newman, Thanacoody & Hui 2011). Yousaf, Sanders, and Abbas (2015) note that it is important to distinguish between turnover as an act and turnover intentions as decisions. While focusing on turnover intentions, it is possible to understand what could lead to the turnover more effectively (Kashyap & Rangnekar 2014). From this point, the notion ‘turnover’ is used to explain the undesired situation in the organisation or industry sector when employees change their jobs implying significant costs on employers to recruit and retain new employees.
Term ‘Turnover intentions’
However, the actual turnover depends on the employees’ ‘turnover intentions’ as their feelings and decisions to stay with or leave the employer. If HRM managers want to affect the turnover rate, they usually choose to influence the employees’ experiences and attitudes that are directly associated with their positive feelings regarding the employer or turnover intentions (Dysvik & Kuvaas 2010; Slatten, Svensson & Sværi 2011). Lai and Kapstad (2009) state that employees’ turnover intentions are directly associated with job-related visions and emotions. Therefore, while studying employees’ perceptions, it is reasonable to examine their feelings, attitudes, and emotions that lead to certain intentions, and only then, to behaviours. Turnover intentions are psychological indicators that need to be measured to analyse the effectiveness of managerial efforts (Brunetto et al. 2012). As a result, the assessment of turnover intentions is important in order to understand how the used HRM practices, strategies, and tools can influence the employees’ feelings and actions (Flint, Haley & McNally 2013). In this case, the negative changes in turnover intentions can be discussed as direct predictors of further turnover in the organisation, as the indicator of the ineffective retention strategy, and as the result of the previous experiences, perceptions, and feelings.
The term ‘retention’ is directly related to the strategies and approaches used by HR managers to decrease the turnover rate in the organisation. Juhdi, Pawan, and Hansaram (2013) state that managers often start to change their HRM practices only when the turnover rate increases, and there is a necessity of increasing retention. In their turn, Bambacas and Kulik (2013) also discuss the retention as a practice of turnover prevention. From this perspective, while measuring the retention, researchers need to measure the feelings and opinions associated with it because, in the HRM practice, retention is discussed as a strategy or a complex of approaches to prevent turnover as an organisational phenomenon.
In his study, Yamamoto (2013) supports the opinion that it is almost impossible to measure retention without referring to the psychological aspects of the employees’ behaviours. Therefore, Yamamoto (2013) chooses the notion of ‘turnover intention’ as a synonym to or as an index of the ‘retention’ notion studied by the investigator. This fact supports the claim that, in the current study, it is more efficient to measure employees’ turnover intentions in order to avoid the misunderstanding while applying the terminology regarding the employee retention in organisations.
The Rationale for Selecting ‘Turnover Intention’
The term ‘turnover intention’ is used to determine the dependent variable in the current research because this notion provides the complete explanation of the employees’ motivation when they choose or not to leave the organisation (Dewettinck & Van Ameijde 2011). Thus, the term ‘turnover intention’ is linked to the idea of employees’ perceptions regarding the HRM practices because these notions are in a category of the employees’ feelings and cognition rather than actual behaviour (Cho & Lewis 2012). According to Paille (2013), HR managers need to refer to turnover cognitions including the perceptions of the current job, intentions to find the new job, and intention to leave the job in order to analyse whether the retention strategies are effective and whether there is a risk of turnover. The analysis of the proposed terminology indicates that it is not appropriate to discuss the ‘turnover’ as a phenomenon in this study. In addition, the discussion of the ‘retention’ as a relevant term is also unsuitable because retention can be measured only indirectly, and the focus on the commitment is more appropriate in this case, but it is not the topic of the study.
Having analyzed the differences in such notions as ‘turnover’, ‘turnover intention’, and ‘retention’, it is possible to state that to guarantee the validity of the study results, the measured variables should be assessed with the focus on the employees’ feelings and cognitive intentions. Thus, measuring employees’ perceptions of the implemented HRM practices, it is possible to expect effects on their attitudes (satisfaction) and decisions (intention to stay with or leave the organization). In contrast to the notion of ‘retention’ that is directly related to the results of the HR managers’ activities, the notion ‘turnover intention’ represents changes in the employee’s feelings, and the associated decisions can cause the further behaviour. As a result, measuring the ‘turnover intention’, it is possible to link it more directly to the effectiveness of HRM practices in terms of the employees’ perceptions of these practices and to predict the employees’ potential behaviour that can influence the turnover rate in the organisation.
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Yousaf, A, Sanders, K & Abbas, Q 2015, ‘Organizational/occupational commitment and organizational/occupational turnover intentions’, Personnel Review, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 470-491.