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Aiming to Leave and Aiming to Harm: the Role of Turnover Intentions and Job Opportunities for Minor and Serious Deviance

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore if employees with turnover intentions report more minor and serious deviant behaviors depending on whether they can easily find alternative employment. We combined survey data from a representative sample of employees in Switzerland (N = 1179) with industry unemployment rates from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Employees with higher turnover intentions engaged in more minor and serious deviance. We found the highest levels of serious deviance among employees with high turnover intentions and many job opportunities (i.e., high education in industries with lower unemployment). Surprisingly, the relationship between turnover intentions and serious deviance was also positive for individuals with the fewest job opportunities (i.e., low education in industries with higher unemployment). For individuals with moderate job opportunities (low education and low industry unemployment as well as high education and high industry unemployment), this relationship was insignificant. This study extends the research on the antecedents of different types of deviant behaviors. We theorize and examine how individual (i.e., education) and contextual (i.e., the unemployment rate) factors shape different types of deviance (i.e., minor and serious deviance). Moreover, we add to the turnover literature by investigating harmful behaviors that employees engage in before leaving an organization.

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Notes

  1. The calculations with education treated as a continuous variable produced similar results in terms of significance and direction of the three-way interaction effects for minor and serious deviance. Thus, the results hold true independently of whether the dichotomized or continuous measurement of education is used.

  2. We also tested the models without control variables. We obtained similar results in terms of significance and direction of the three-way interaction effects for minor and serious deviance. We reran all analyses with job satisfaction as a control. Job satisfaction was measured using a single question: “How satisfied are you with your job?” on a scale ranging from 1 (not satisfied at all) to 10 (fully satisfied). The results confirmed the significance and direction of the three-way interaction effects for serious deviance (Wald statistic = 5.11, OR = 0.77, p < 0.05) and minor deviance (Wald statistic = 2.99, OR = 80, ns).

  3. Because of the partial nesting of our data (employees nested in industries), we reran the calculations using multilevel analysis. We obtained a similar picture of results. The results can be obtained from the authors.

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Funding

This work uses data collected by the Swiss Human-Relations-Barometer, which is based at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich and supported by Swiss National Science Foundation under grant SNSF 10FI13_140377/1.

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Correspondence to Anna Sender.

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Sender, A., Morf, M. & Feierabend, A. Aiming to Leave and Aiming to Harm: the Role of Turnover Intentions and Job Opportunities for Minor and Serious Deviance. J Bus Psychol 36, 449–460 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-020-09685-5

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Keywords

  • Turnover intentions
  • Organizational deviance
  • Alternative job opportunities
  • Education
  • Unemployment rates