Understanding attrition and predicting employment durations of former staff in a public social service organization

Emily Thaden, Lynette Jacobs-Priebe, Scot Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Summary: This study examines factors related to employee attrition in a US state social service organization (SSSO) that administers welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid. Findings: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 132 former SSSO employees. Qualitative analyses found that informants reported insufficient resources to do their jobs, inconsistent or inadequate training experiences, negative perceptions of the organizational culture and management (e.g. minimal recognition and inadequate support for professional growth or innovation), and typically positive perceptions of co-worker relationships during their tenures at the SSSO. To examine the relative impact of these factors and background variables (age, race, office location, and position) on duration of employment, a multiple linear regression was conducted. Age, office location, position, and perceptions of organizational culture significantly predicted duration of employment (F(7,123) = 24.19, p lt; .001, R2 = .56). Application: Findings suggest that organizational culture may be an important change target for retaining workers in SSSOs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-435
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 28 2010


  • attrition
  • human service
  • organizational change
  • organizational culture
  • public sector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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