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Temas em Psicologia

versão impressa ISSN 1413-389X

Temas psicol. vol.26 no.2 Ribeirão Preto abr./jun. 2018 



Analysis of organizational factors that determine turnover intention



Áurea de Fátima OliveiraI; Sinésio Gomide JúniorII; Bânia Vieira dos Santos PoliIII; Lígia Carolina Oliveira-SilvaIV

IUniversidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brasil.
IIUniversidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brasil.
IIIIDEA - Instituto de Desenvolvimento Educacional Avançado, Escola Superior de Administração, Marketing e Comunicação, Uberlândia, MG, Brasil.
IVUniversidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brasil.

Mailing address




The present study sought to examine the mediating role of organizational trust in the relationship between perceived organizational support, perception of personnel management policies and practices, and turnover intentions. The sample consisted of 250 employees, predominantly women (60.8%), with a mean age of 28 years and an average length of employment of 2.8 years. Most of them was employed in private companies (89.25%) and presented incomplete higher education (60.4%). The data was analyzed through descriptive statistics and path analysis (Structural Equations Modeling) so as to appraise the mediation relationships and indirect effects between the variables, analyzing which of them represent direct or indirect predictors of turnover intentions. The results indicated that the proposed model was only partially corroborated, given that the mediation relationships were partial and the indirect effects were not significative. We recommend further studies involving both other samples and the inclusion of other variables in the research models.

Keywords: Turnover intention, perceived organizational support, personnel management policies, organizational trust.



An employee's voluntary resignation from a company is an individual act that fits into the realm of the employee turnover phenomenon. It can lead to consequences such as tangible costs (recruitment, selection, benefits, training, integration, termination) and intangible costs (loss of know-how, workflow interruption, collapse of ties with suppliers and customers, among others). Also known as turnover, it refers to the ratio of the number of employees dismissed – both voluntarily and involuntarily, during a specific period (monthly or annual) – to the total number of active employees (Marras, 2000). Nonetheless, the present study is concerned with the kind of turnover that occurs when an employee voluntarily resigns from the company or organization he/she works for, because such resignations adversely affect the organization's effectiveness (Perez, 2008) and get in the way of the company's attainment of productivity targets (Flint, Haley, & McNally, 2013; Kim, 2014; Rubel, Kee, Quah, & Rimi, 2017). Furthermore, voluntary termination of employment can be considered an obstacle to the retention of talent, which seeks to create value for clients/customers, investors, the local community, suppliers and stockholders (Flint et al., 2013). Hence, one observes that turnover costs are not only financial, but also psychological to the extent that they lead to the demoralization of the employees that stay with the organization and question themselves as to whether they should continue working for it. Such costs have been overlooked by some managers, yet the competitive environment of organizations obliges one to acknowledge the necessity of identifying the causes of the problem, as a precondition to its control (Flint et al., 2013). Lima, Céo, and Blatt (2016) view job dissatisfaction as a cause of turnover, mainly among the young and those who are dissatisfied with their salaries. Consequently, when better opportunities exist in the job market, the prevailing tendency is to pursue them. Diógenes, Paschoal, Neiva, and Meneses (2016) discovered that, in the public service sector, the lower one's perceived organizational support is, the greater one's turnover intention becomes. Before that, in 2014, Siqueira and Gomide had already stressed the importance of such support in relation to an employee's intention to stay with an organization, whether public or private.

Different from turnover, Turnover Intention (TI) refers to one's awareness and opinion of one's job options (Perez, 2008). It is a psychological phenomenon that, according to Mowday, Porter and Steers (1982), indicates an employee's subjective likelihood of constantly considering resigning from an organization at some point in the near future. Turnover intention has become an object of research in the field of organizational behavior because it is an effective indicator of an employee's thoughts, plans and propensity in relation to leaving an organization. Nevertheless, the present study does not examine employee turnover itself directly, for its objective is to explore the reasons for which individuals leave the organizations they work for (Mintzberg & Lampel, 1999). As a general rule, companies rarely provide raw data concerning employee turnover. In fact, many of them do not even collect such data. Additionally, one may consider that behavioral intention is a strong predictor of behavior (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975, cited by Flint et al., 2013). The model proposed by Mobbley (1977, cited by Khan, 2014) elucidates the phenomenon's psychological mechanism, which, as a process, involves several stages: assessing the job; experiencing discontentment; contemplating resigning; evaluating the potential advantages and disadvantages of resigning and looking for another job; forming the intention to seek out other job opportunities; searching for and assessing such job options; comparing such openings with one's present job; forming the intention to leave or stay; and, finally, actually resigning or remaining. Taking this process into consideration, Tett and Meyer (1993) suggested the following definition: a conscious, deliberate disposition to leave an organization.

Scientific research concerning turnover intention has increased in recent years (Agapito, 2012), so much so that 112 international articles were published between 2007 and 2012 (particularly in magazines focusing on the field of business administration), 37 of which received Qualis classification, an official Brazilian graduate-research classification system overseen by CAPES [a government agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education]. According to Agapito (2012), Brazilian research production was less than that of international research (11 articles, of which only 7 enjoy Qualis classification), with business administration magazines prevailing. This general scenario reaffirms the relevance of the subject, which had already been discussed by authors prior to this period, together with an increase in the number of variables studied.

The quest for the factors that cause turnover was already evidenced in a study conducted by Brannick (1999), according to which turnover occurs due to shortcomings in the relationship between the employee and the organizational culture, inadequate training, lack of incentives, and organizational policies. Siqueira and Gomide (2014) added that the career advancement opportunities offered by companies, the form of supervision, the disciplinary policy, the working conditions and employee motivation can also produce turnover.

Research into the variables that precede turnover intention (TI) could thus make it possible for companies to formulate courses of action aimed at retaining talented employees that are important to achieving company efficiency. Up to now, the TI-antecedent variables that have been researched the most in the Brazilian and international literature on the subject are the following: affective organizational commitment negatively related to turnover intention (Blomme, Van Rheede, & Tromp, 2010; Lima et al., 2016; Siqueira & Gomide, 2014; Yin-Fah, Foon, Chee-Leong, & Osman, 2010); the ethical atmosphere (rubel et al., 2017); ethical values (Valentine, Godkin, Fleischman, & Kidwell, 2010); organizational cynicism (Khan, 2014); human resource practices (Juhdi, Pa'wan, & Hansaram, 2013; Knap, Smith & Sprinkle, 2017); and, lastly, organizational justice and trust (Farooq & Farooq, 2014).

Another important predictor mentioned in the literature is an employee's perception of organizational support (Diógenes et al., 2016; Siqueira & Gomide, 2014), which results in fewer employee absences, better performance, greater job satisfaction, and less intention to leave the company. In addition to predicting less intention to leave an organization, Perceived Organizational Support (POS) also predicts greater affective commitment; increased organizational citizenship behavior; better performance; less need for supervision; more creativity and innovativeness; and greater organizational trust (Batista & Oliveira, 2012; Eisenberg, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986; Manzoor & Naeem, 2011; Siqueira & Gomide, 2014). Nonetheless, it is still necessary to expand the research on the subject by including other variables that could influence turnover intention.

Along these lines, Personnel Management Policies and Practices (PMPP) have gained ground in both Brazilian and international research, as is evidenced in studies that were conducted by Horta, Demo and Roure (2012) and by Shuck, Twyford, Reio and Shuch (2014), which focus on personnel management practices in relation to organizational commitment and turnover intention, and to organizational trust and occupational wellbeing, respectively. To Dall'Inha (2006), the incidence of turnover could be the tip of the iceberg of distortions in human resource (HR) policies. Research concerning turnover could influence, for example, the reformulation of organizations' HR policies.

Lastly, a variable that is still only marginally examined in terms of its relation to turnover intention is organizational trust, which is related to results such as organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior, greater cooperation and less need for supervision (Kramer, 1999). Farooq and Farooq (2014) showed that employees are sensitive to issues that relate to justice within the work context, and they confirmed the fact that organizational trust mediates the relationship between perceived justice and turnover intention. Employees' perceptions of distributive and procedural justice thus increase their trust in the organization and reduce their turnover intentions. Another factor that influences such intentions is perceived organizational support (Diógenes et al., 2016). Along these lines, there is evidence that the relationship between POS and both perception of personnel management practices/policies and turnover intention is mediated by the employee's trust in the organization, and this is one of the hypotheses that we tested in the present study.

In summary, the literature suggests that POS, PMPP and organizational trust can predict turnover intention, and it is possible that trust, for its part, plays a mediating role in the relationship. Although we found no studies that treat organizational trust as an antecedent of turnover intention, we did find support in the literature for its inclusion as a mediating factor in a research model that involves variables that are analogous to those presented herein. Accordingly, the present study's principal objective was to test the model below (see Figure 1).




The present study involved a convenience sample made up of 250 employees of formal organizations in a city in the Triângulo Mineiro region of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The participants were predominantly women (60.8%), and most of the participants had an incomplete university education (60.4%) and worked for private organizations (89.2%). The sample exhibited a mean age of 28 years (SD = 10.21) and an average length of employment of 2.89 years (SD = 5.75). The number of participants was obtained by way of calculating the test's power to specify the sample size, considering the mean effect (f2 = 0.15; p < .05), which indicated at least 172 indispensible cases.


Turnover Intention Scale (Siqueira, Gomide, Oliveira, & Polizzi, 2014): This instrument consists of three items, with internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) of 0.89 - "Do you plan to leave the company you work for?" Participants rated the statements according to a five-point Likert scale that reveals the frequency of each response, which varies between 1 (never) and 5 (always).

Scale of Perception of Personnel Management Policies (Demo, Neiva, Nunes, & Rozzet, 2014): Personnel management policies refer to recruitment and selection (six items, α = 0.84) - "The selection processes of the organization I work for are highly competitive, attracting competent individuals"; engagement (12 items, α= 0, 93) - "The organization I work for encourages my participation in decision making and problem solving"; training, development and education (six items, α = 0.88) - "In my job, I'm able to apply the knowledge and comportment I assimilate from the training courses/events I participate in"; working conditions (six items, α = 0.84) - "The organization I work for conducts activities and programs geared toward accident prevention and incident management"; evaluation of performance and competencies (five items, α = 0.86) - "The organization I work for conducts periodic evaluations of performance and skills"; and rewards (five items, α = 0.81) - "The organization I work for pays me according to my results." Participants rate the statements according to a five-point Likert-type scale that indicates the extent to which they agree or disagree with each statement, ranging from completely disagree (1) to completely agree (5).

Organizational Trust Inventory Questionnaire (Ianaguivara, 2011): This instrument consists of three factors: ethical components (23 items, α = 0.96) - "In this organization, one perceives willingness to achieve goals that benefit everyone"; organizational competency (14 items, α= 0.92) - "This organization adopts new technologies, thus maintaining its competitiveness"; and opportunism (five items, α = 0.84) - "This organization makes the most of others' errors, to its advantage." Participants rate the statements according to a five-point Likert-type scale that indicates the extent to which they agree or disagree with each statement, ranging from completely disagree (1) to completely agree (5).

Perceived Organizational Support Scale (Siqueira & Gomide, 2008): This scale is made up of six items that express positive beliefs as to the organization's support and appreciation of the employee (α = 0.86) - "I can get the company's help when I have a problem." Participants rate the statements according to a seven-point Likert scale ranging from completely disagree (1) to completely agree (7).

Procedures as to Data Collection, Ethics and Data Analysis

In order to achieve our objectives, we invited potential participants who satisfied the following criteria: individuals over 18 years of age who had been employed by a formal organization for over six months and had completed elementary school, which would enable them read and comprehend the instruments' items. After filling out and signing an informed consent form, the volunteers answered the questionnaires in open areas or through the human resource departments of the companies that distributed and collected the questionnaires. The project that includes the present study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee via Opinion No. 197,721, in compliance with Brazilian National Health Council Resolution No. 466/2012.

Data analysis was performed with the aid of SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) and AMOS software. We analyzed the sample by way of descriptive statistics (mean, frequency, standard deviation), while the correlations between the variables were tested using Pearson's correlation coefficient. Seeking to test the model, that is, to confirm its predictive and mediatory connections, we performed path analysis via structural equation modeling, as well as bootstrapping in order to check the indirect effects. The maximum likelihood estimation method was employed.



While compiling the data file, we observed that there were no typing errors and that missing data was less than 5% of the sample (2.4%). Consistent with Pasquali (2015), and with Tabachnick and Fidell (2001), the missing data was substituted by the sample mean. Since they were few, instances of univariate outliers were kept in the sample. However, instances of multivariate outliers (a total of 19), which were spotted by way of the Mahalanobis distance (Pasquali, 2015; Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001), were removed from the sample, based on the χ2 value obtained (χ2 = 137.216, df= 90, p < .001). The sample ended up with 231 participants.

Data normality was checked via asymmetry and kurtosis rates, taking into account the parameters defined by Miles and Shevlin (2001), who considered rates between 1 and 2 acceptable. Multicollinearity was assessed using the correlation matrix, the tolerance values and the variance inflation factor (VIF) observed in the regression analysis results. Examining the correlation matrix (Table 1), we detected no multicollinearity for most of the variables, in view of the fact that the correlation coefficients we obtained were under 0.80, as specified by Field (2009), with the exception of the correlation between engagement policies and trust in organizational ethics (r = 0.84). Given that tolerance values under 0.10 and VIF values over 10 indicate multicollinearity, the present study's results indicated no major problems in relation to multicollinearity between the variables we analyzed. Nonetheless, due to the existence of medium and high correlations in the correlation matrix, we centered the predictor variables so as to minimize eventual effects of collinearity on path analysis parameters.

Descriptive Analysis of the Data

The statistical description of the variables under study was accomplished using the factor means, in accordance with the instructions of the scales' respective authors. Table 1 presents the results. The correlations between turnover intention and other variables are both negative and significant, with the exception of the opportunism variable, which is positively correlated with turnover intention. For its part, perceived organizational support (POS) exhibits a negative correlation with opportunism alone (r = -0.25, p <.01). There is a correlation between POS and trust in ethics and organizational competencies as well as personnel management policies. One observes that the highest correlations are between POS and trust in ethics (r = 0.72, p < .01) and between POS and engagement policies (r = 0.73, p < .01). Trust in ethics enjoys an elevated correlation with engagement policies (r = 0.84, p < .01), and lower correlations with the other variables. It is noteworthy that opportunism exhibits a significant negative correlation with engagement policies alone.

Testing the Model

In order to test the mediation hypothesis and make an overall assessment of model fit, the model in Figure 1 was subjected to path analysis via structural equation modeling. In light of the factor structure of the instruments utilized, the model employed latent variables for PMPP and trust, since they are multifactorial, and observed variables for TI and POS, since they involve only one factor, as shown in Figure 2.



The initial model above exhibited acceptable fit indices (CMIN/DF = 5.87, CFI = 0.88, GFI = 0.84, TLI = 0.83, NFI = 0.86), satisfying the minimum standards set forth by Marôco (2014). Nonetheless, the residues that were identified were relatively high (RMSEA = 0.16, SRMR = 0.074). Based on the modification indexes indicated by AMOS, correlations were plotted between the errors of the following factors: R&S – WORK.COND.; ENGAG. – EV.PERF.CMP.; and TD&E – EV.PERF.CMP. As Kline (2010) stated, some correlations between errors can be acceptable since they improve model fit. The adjusted model exhibited improved fit indices (CMIN/DF = 4.75, CFI = 0.91, GFI = 0.88, TLI = 0.87, NFI = 0.90); and, despite the fact that the residues decreased, the values obtained would still be higher than desirable (RMSEA = 0.12; SRMR = 0.071).

Subsequent to analyzing the model's fit, we examined the coefficients that enable the hypothesis test of the mediation model. In order to do so, we observed the direct effects of the independent variables with and without the mediator, and the indirect effects, as shown in Table 2.

With respect to the direct effects of the independent variables in the presence of the mediator, one observes partial mediation, given that the coefficient exhibits a statistically significant decrease with the inclusion of trust in the equation. Nonetheless, the results we found for the indirect effects were negligible, thus reinforcing the conclusion that partial mediation exists. One may thus affirm that a mediation effect does in fact exist, although it does not annul the direct correlations' effects, precisely because the indirect effects are negligible. Referring to Table 3, one is able to perform an analysis of the coefficients of all of the correlations that were examined, especially the negligible correlation between the mediating variable (trust) and the dependent variable (turnover intention). Such a result could be one of the reasons for which the mediation hypothesis was only partially substantiated since, as stated by Baron and Kenny (1986), in order for mediation to exist, the mediator variable must precede the criterion variable, a prerequisite that is not evidenced by our results. For their part, POS and PMPP display substantial predictive power in relation to both organizational trust and turnover intention, although such predictive power is positive in relation to trust and negative with respect to turnover intention.



The present study's results reveal that the directions of the correlations are consistent with those found in the literature on the subject. Turnover intention (the criterion variable) exhibits negative correlations with POS (Siqueira & Gomide, 2014), perception of HR management policies and practices, and trust in organizational ethics and competence. An employee's intention to resign from an organization is proportional to the employee's lack of perception of the support and/or PMPP that are actually practiced by the organization. Benjamin (2012) found a significant negative correlation between the human resource development climate and turnover intention.

Siqueira and Gomide's (2014) synthesis of the literature presents perceived organizational support (POS), organizational commitment (affective, calculative and normative), job satisfaction and perceived procedural/distributive justice as predictors of turnover intention. For their part, Manzoor and Naeem (2011) found that when employees perceive the organization's support, they report higher commitment levels and less intention to resign from the organization.

With respect to organizational trust, the literature indicates that, when an employee trusts the organization he works for, he perceives himself as being less vulnerable to the organization's acts (Kramer, 1999). Since trust is a form of social exchange, it does not make use of formal controls. Nevertheless, it still produces a certain harmony in social relations (Kramer, 1999). One presumes both that promises will be kept and that those who trust others will not suffer disloyalty or any other kind of maltreatment. Upon examining the regression coefficients, one perceives that the POS and PMPP variables position themselves as predictors of organizational trust. Reviewing the literature on the subject, one observes that earlier studies had already arrived at similar results: Research conducted by Horta et al. (2012) and by Shuck et al. (2014) correlated personnel management practices with organizational commitment, employee engagement, turnover intention, organizational trust and occupational wellbeing.

Taking a further look at the coefficients, one observes that POS and PMPP are also significant antecedents of turnover intention; however, the coefficients are negative, indicating that the greater an employee's perception of organizational support, together with a more positive perception of personnel management policies and practices, the lesser his/her turnover intention. Conversely, negative perceptions of support and management can stimulate the employee's desire to resign from the organization. Despite the fact that the proposed theoretical model exhibits acceptable fit indices, the mediation hypothesis was only partially substantiated. For its part, organizational trust is not a significant predictor of turnover intention, a fact that could help explain why mediation is only partial, as well as the negligible nature of the indirect effects. Hence, although perception of organizational support and of personnel management policies and practices influences the employee's trust in the organization, one can affirm neither that the lack of such perception is the principal reason for which the employee desires to resign from the organization nor that it annuls the influence of support and personnel management.

In Gouldner's (1960) view, the norm of reciprocity ("people should help those who help them; people should not maltreat their benefactors) offers individuals a realistic basis for trust. By inspiring social players to perform their roles according to existing expectations, the rule of reciprocity also supports the development of trust. Once the rule is broken, the basis of the employment relationship becomes tenuous and unrewarding. On the other hand, an organization's failure to invest in its employees' career development/advancement can be interpreted as a lack of appreciation of such employees. Accordingly, our results suggest that if an employee distrusts an organization's courses of action and lacks perception of organizational support and of proper personnel management practices, then his/her best option would be to seek other employment. When such beliefs encounter favorable job-market conditions, they tend to lead to the employee's voluntary resignation. It is evident that the possibility of the aforementioned chain of beliefs and perceptions could explain the present study's final results. It is worth noting that the role of trust, as a mediator, moderator or antecedent variable, still deserves closer examination by way of further research.

In any event, it is necessary to test the model's hypothesis on other samples and regions in Brazil, thus expanding its capacity of generalization. The soundness of knowledge depends on empirically testing models in other contexts. Nonetheless, for the time being, the present study offers managers indications of important factors that can aid them in personnel management, especially in terms of retaining talented employees that are highly valued by organizations.



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Mailing address:
Áurea de Fátima Oliveira
Rua Prof. Ciro de Castro Almeida, no 1905, bloco D - apto 22, Bairro Custódio Pereira
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Received: 22/11/2016
1st revision: 19/06/2017
Accepted: 19/06/2017
Agradecimento à Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) pelo apoio financeiro na realização da pesquisa, a bolsista Ethyene Andrade Costa e a Fundação CDL - Câmara de Dirigentes Lojistas de Uberlândia.

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