The turnover contagion process: An integrative review of theoretical and empirical research


Employee turnover has long been considered a prominent concern for managers because it is associated with expenses, such as loss of productivity and replacement costs. Moreover, employee turnover is also detrimental to an organization because it may stimulate additional incidents of turnover within the workplace. That is, employee turnover can be “contagious” in that employees tend to imitate the turnover-related attitudes and behaviors of their coworkers. To date, the “turnover contagion” phenomenon has been investigated from multiple perspectives, splintering this research into several, seemingly distinct topics. Because of such diverse approaches to studying the spread of turnover, we lack a clear perspective on what turnover contagion is, how the turnover contagion process unfolds, and how to manage it. To resolve the ambiguities surrounding the turnover contagion process, we review 42 research papers relevant to the turnover contagion process. Based on our review, we present an integrated perspective on “turnover contagion” that clearly delineates this phenomenon, describes what the extant research says about how coworker turnover processes impact employees' propensities to leave, and offers future research directions with the potential to deepen our understanding and management of turnover contagion.

Publication Title

Journal of Organizational Behavior