So Hard to Say Goodbye? Turnover Intention among U.S. Federal Employees

Authors


David Pitts is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University in Washington, D.C. His research focuses on public management and representative bureaucracy.
E-mail:pitts@american.edu

John Marvel is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University in Washington, D.C. His research focuses on public management.
E-mail:jdmarvel@gmail.com

Sergio Fernandez is an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington. His research focuses on privatization, organizational change, and leadership.
E-mail:sefernan@indiana.edu

Abstract

Why do U.S. federal government employees choose to leave the federal service? By focusing on turnover intentions, this article develops propositions about why employees anticipate leaving their jobs along three dimensions: (1) demographic factors, (2) workplace satisfaction factors, and (3) organizational/relational factors. Two distinct measures of turnover intention are advanced that reflect those who intend to leave their agency for another position within the federal government and those who intend to leave the federal government for an outside position. The 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey is used to test the impacts of three clusters of independent variables on these measures of turnover intention. The findings suggest that overall job satisfaction and age affect turnover consistently. Practical recommendations are outlined for public managers seeking to boost employee retention.

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