Is There Really Less Turnover in Fun Workplaces?

In first considering this question, my reflexive response is — of course! But do you know why fun contributes to less turnover? Hold onto that thought and see if it turns out to be the same answer that researchers came up with earlier this year.

Three researchers took a closer look at fun and the workplace. Specifically, they looked at how three forms of fun affected turnover: fun activities, coworker socializing, and manager support for fun. They looked at almost 300 servers (from 20 restaurants) at national restaurant chains in the US. So right away, we need to be careful generalizing these results outside of the service industry and in particular, servers at restaurants in the service industry. The results:

First, this research demonstrated that fun is significantly related to employee turnover, serving to further validate claims in the popular management press that fun has a beneficial impact on individuals and organizations. Second, this research highlighted that only some forms of fun relate directly to employee turnover. These results signal the importance of focusing on the component parts of workplace fun, rather than treating fun as a single construct, as has been done in other research (Fluegge, 2008; McDowell, 2004). Third, this research demonstrated that constituent attachment is a key mediator in the fun−turnover relationship. In doing so, this research has helped to answer how and why fun impacts the turnover process.

That third and final point is the key: constituent attachment is a key mediator in the fun-turnover relationship. Meaning, relationships/friendships at work help to mitigate one’s likelihood of quitting. And one way of enhancing relationships/friendships at work? Fun. That is, fun can facilitate the opportunities by which co-workers can get to know each other and develop relationships. By doing so, employees are less likely to quit.

So, while the research helped to confirm previously held thoughts about fun having an impact on employee turnover, the important discovery here is that fun isn’t the “end,” but merely the means to an end. By promoting and facilitating fun in a workplace environment, a manager can create the opportunity for employees to develop relationships.

As the researchers mention in the discussion section, I wonder how generalizable these results can be across industries. Of course, there’d need to be more research to validate it’s reliability in other industries, but my guess is that the results are going to hold across certain industries. For instance, I’d imagine that many office cultures that are similar to the restaurant industry might show a similar effect. That is, office cultures that have ups and downs in workloads, like you would find in the restaurant industry.

ResearchBlogging.orgM. J. Tews, J. W. Michel, & D. G. Allen (2014). Fun and friends: The impact of workplace fun and constituent attachment on turnover in a hospitality context Human Relations DOI: 10.1177/0018726713508143


One response to “Is There Really Less Turnover in Fun Workplaces?

  1. Pingback: The Science of Success—Hot New Experiments You Can Use | Council of Public Relations Firms

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