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When Employees Leave Their Jobs, Coworkers Call It Quits

Accepted submission by hubie at 2023-05-21 12:41:05

When employees leave their jobs, coworkers call it quits: UBC study []:

People leave jobs all the time, whether they're laid off, fired, or just quit. But how do their departures affect coworkers left behind? According to a new study [] from the UBC Sauder School of Business, those exits can lead many others to call it quits.

The researchers delved deeply into employment data from a major retailer that was experiencing high turnover to find out why. They reviewed data for roughly a million employees — including when they were hired, which store, which position, when they left, and why.

The study authors also had access to employee performance records, so they could evaluate whether workers were high performers or low performers.

[...] "It's very bad news for organizations, especially if they are laying off high performers, because if those positions get eliminated, both high and low performers start quitting," said Dr. Sajjadiani. "It's a signal that people's jobs aren't secure, and the organization doesn't care about them, no matter how hard they work. So they think, 'I should leave as soon as possible.'"

When employees quit their jobs voluntarily, their departures give a more moderate boost to voluntary turnover, and it takes longer for that ripple effect to occur.

"To high performers, voluntary exits are a positive signal that there are better opportunities elsewhere," said Dr. Sajjadiani. "So while employees might not leave immediately, they do begin to look for other opportunities."

[...] However, when a high performer is dismissed without clear justification, employers not only open themselves to legal headaches, it also sends the wrong message to other high performers. They also start heading for the door.

According to Dr. Sajjadiani, organizations vastly underestimate the ripple effects of people leaving and the resulting human capital costs. The research also sends a clear message to organizations that they should be extremely careful when they make exit decisions, or they risk destabilizing the whole organization very quickly.

Journal Reference:
Sima Sajjadiani, John D Kammeyer-Mueller and Alan Benson, Who Is Leaving and Why? The Dynamics of High-Quality Human Capital Outflows, Academy of Management Journal, 2023. DOI: []

Original Submission