IZA DP No. 4587: Adverse Workplace Conditions, High-Involvement Work Practices and Labor Turnover: Evidence from Danish Linked Employer-Employee Data
published in: Labour Economics, 2011, 18 (6), 872-880
This paper contributes to the emerging strand of the empirical literature that takes advantage of new data on workplace-specific job attributes and voluntary employee turnover to shed fresh insights on the relationship between employee turnover, adverse workplace conditions and HRM environments. We find evidence that workers in hazardous workplace conditions are indeed more likely to separate from their current employers voluntarily while High-Involvement Work Practices (HIWPs) reduces employee turnover. Specifically, exposing a worker to physical hazards such as loud noise, vibration or poor lighting will lead to a 3 percentage point increase in the probability of turnover from the average turnover rate of 18 percent; working in a fixed night shift will result in an 11 percentage point jump in the turnover probability, and having an unsupportive boss will lead to a 5 percentage point increase. The effect of HIWPs is modest yet hardly negligible with a 4 percentage point reduction in the turnover probability from having voice in the workplace. Furthermore the turnover-increasing effect of physical hazards is found to be significantly reduced by the presence of strong information sharing whereas the adverse effect on turnover of the use of fixed night shift is also found to be significantly mitigated by the authority delegation to workers by management. As such, our evidence lends support to those who advocate the use of HIWPs for those firms with employee turnover problems due to hazardous workplace conditions. Finally, our logit analysis of the 5-year odds of improving workplace conditions suggests that the worker exposed to adverse workplace conditions can improve her long-term odds of rectifying such workplace adversities significantly by separating from the firm voluntarily. Voluntary turnover appears to be a rational worker response to adverse workplace conditions, and unless the firm alleviates its adverse workplace conditions directly or mitigates their effects on voluntary turnover through HIWPs, workers exposed to adverse workplace conditions will likely continue to take the exit option.