Turnover intentions: scale construction & validation.

AuthorDwivedi, Sulakshna


Employee retention has become a big concern in organizations all over the world. The BPO/ITES sector in India is particularly affected by the low retention rates and high staff turnover. In comparison to global turnover rate of 20%, Indian call centers have topped the list with an employee turnover rate of 40 per cent according to a global call centre study. Out of 100 employees who joined a call centre; almost 60 leave the organization before completion of one year of their service (Holman et al., 2007). Attrition rate in BPO sector in the first quarter of the year 2011 was as high as 55 per cent (ASSOCHAM, 2011). Attrition has taken a horrendous toll on firms due to heavy expenditure on recruitment, training, administration and retention. Attrition is a much deliberated issue. But there is no standard reason why people leave an organization.

It is hard to get data on actual turnover. Research has repeatedly shown turnover intentions to be the best antecedent of actual turnover (Mobley et al., 1979). Bluedorn (1982) recommended use of turnover intention over actual turnover because actual turnover is more complex to predict than intentions due to various other external factors that affect turnover. The literature on turnover models incorporate one or more cognitions constructs such as intention to leave (or intention to quit or propensity to leave) (Mobley, 1977; Mobley et al., 1979; Steers & Mowday, 1981; Bluedorn, 1982). Various studies of employee turnover established that turnover behavior is heralded by one or more of the variables. (Bannister & Griffeth, 1986; Sager et al., 1998).

Studies on turnover have established that there is scarcity of statistically validated scales to characterize turnover cognitions (Sager et al., 1998). Most scales in the literature measure turnover intentions on only a relatively small number of items. Many researchers have used only single item (Guimaraes, 1997). The usage of single-item indicators to quantify turnover cognitions is condemned as construct validity is anonymous (Sager et al., 1998; Lee et al., 2000). Only a few studies could be found where three-items (Lum et al., 1998; Kim & Stoner 2008; Vandenberghe et al., 2002; Mobley et al.,1978; Schaubroeck & Merritt, 1989), four-items (Kelloway et al., 1999; O'Reilly et al., 1991; Spencer et al., 1983; Kim et al., 1996 and six items (Singh et al.,1996) per instrument were used (Appendix A). Only recently some authors have used double digit item scales (Sager et al., 1998; Jacobs & Roodt, 2008).Very few studies are there where validation of the scales has been checked and moreover in India, almost no study has been found on the validity of the TISCALE. Remarkably, while there are many examples of cross-cultural investigation carried out to test the TISCALE, we have not encountered any research study that examines the applicability of TISCALE to different demographic groups and different strata of BPO sector.

The research effort has two broad objectives:

* To assess the validity and reliability of turnover intentions scale (TISCALE).

* To measure the extent of turnover intentions of employees according to various socio demographic variables

Literature Review & Hypotheses

Employee turnover is the movement of employees across organizations; jobs; labor markets etc. (Abassi & Hollman, 2000).The term turnover is defined by Price (1977) as the ratio of the number of employees who have left during the period to the average number of employees in that organization during the period. Hom and Griffeth (1995) have taken samples from around 800 studies in their meta-analysis and Maertz and Campion (1998) have observed that there have been literally thousands of studies on employee turnover, thus it speaks volumes about the research on this very crucial topic.

Intent to stay/leave denotes to an employee's behavioral intentions, and has been proved to exert a strong negative impact on actual turnover (Mueller et al., 1992). Intention to leave involves allegiance of an employee, hence has its behavioral implications (Iverson & Roy, 1994). Sager et al. (1998:255) referred to turnover cognitions as mental decisions intervening between an individual's attitudes regarding the job and the stay or leave decision. Intention to leave can be considered as the extent of likelihood of an employee forfeiting his association in an organization (Currivan, 1999). Intention to quit is the intensity of an individual's view to stay or to leave (Boshoff et al., 2002); attitudinal/cognitive manifestation (Elangovan, 2001) of the behavioral decision to quit.

Evolving through the literatures and ideas of March and Simon (1958), Mobley (1977) and others, most of the published turnover models incorporate one or more turnover cognitions constructs (Steers & Mowday, 1981). From a theoretical perspective, turnover cognitions represent mental decisions intervening between an individual's attitudes regarding a job and the stay or leave decision. To facilitate understanding, Sager et al., (1998: 255) defined three turnover cognitions as follows:

* Thinking of quitting: An employee considers leaving the organization. An example would be a co-worker's comment: "I thought about quitting this company the other day".

* Intention to search: An employee decides to go about looking for a job outside of the organization. Co-worker comments: "I intend to look for another job".

* Intention to quit: The employee decides to leave the organization at some unspecified point in the future. A co-worker says: "I intend to leave this company."

Turnover Intentions (TISCALE)

The scale used for the purpose of measuring the responses of the employees for turnover intentions was the one developed and tested by the researcher by taking cue from various other questionnaires. It is a six items scale. The items of the scale were framed after analyzing various studies (Kelloway et al., 1999; Sager et al., 1998; Vandenberghe et al., 2002; Nissly et al., 2005; O'Reilly et al.; Chatman & Caldwell 1991; Jacobs & Roodt, 2008). Sample items are exhibited in Appendix B. The items were scored on a five-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). The Cronbach's alpha of this scale was 0.839.

Review of literature reveals that scant efforts have been made to measure reliability and validity of single item scales of turnover intentions. In three-item, 4-item or 6-item scales of turnover intentions, reliability (cronbach alpha) and content validity were found out. There are some studies where construct validity (Khatri et al., 2001), two dimensional structures (intention to quit and intention to search) (Jacobs & Roodt, 2008), three dimensional structure (thinking of quitting, intention to search and intention to quit) (Sager et al., 1998) has been found out.

It is against this context that the following hypotheses have been proposed. A privation of prior research in India on the psychometrics of the TISCALE acted as a drawback while framing the hypotheses.

[H.sub.1]: Each of the 6 items of TISCALE is able to discriminate between high scores and low scores.

[H.sub.2]: Turnover intentions scale (TISCALE) is uni-dimensional.

[H.sub.3]: Turnover intentions scale (TISCALE) is internally consistent.

[H.sub.4]: The turnover intentions scale has discriminant validity with respect to related phenomena against which it is tested.

[H.sub.5]: The turnover intentions scale has nomological validity with respect to each of the variables in its nomological net against which it was tested.

Socio-demographic Variable

Age, work experience, educational level and job category (managerial or non-managerial) are some of the demographic variables that have been found to have steady relationship with turnover intentions in literature. Cotton and Tuttle (1986) have found that educational level of employees is positively related to turnover meaning that more educated employees often have more tendencies to leave the organization than the less educated. Relationship between turnover intention and demographic variables such as age and work experience has been found to be negative (Cotton & Tuttle, 1986; Mobley et al., 1979). As far as relationship between turnover intentions and level of employees in terms of managerial and non managerial is concerned, Price and Mueller (1986) established that managerial employees are less likely to quit than non-managerial.

Studies on the relationship between gender and turnover provide variegated results, Khatri et al. (2001) found that gender was significantly associated with turnover intentions in retail industry, Berg (1991) reported...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT