A Qualitative Review of Existing Employee Attrition Models


  • Sandeep Bhattacharya, Ramakrishnan Raman, R Meenakshi


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to study the existing employee attrition models and propose a conceptual model for dealing with employee attrition which closes the gaps identified in the existing models.

Design/Methodology: A rigorous review of research papers on attrition models ranging from 1958 till date has been carried out. Models studied are based on high number of citations, countries analyzed as well as contemporary models to provide comprehensive data. A data table has been created to analyze critical aspects of seminal attrition models and the theories they posit. After identifying the gaps that exist, the authors have proposed an employee attrition model which can be effective in closing the gaps that exist in the proposed models.

Findings: Existing models have examined factors of attrition to arrive at the attrition variables and its impact on intention to quit(ITQ) and many of them are aligned with existing studies in industrial psychology and social studies research. Only two studies have researched attrition behavior (Bartol 1983; Josefek and Kauffman 2003).  Most studies have modelled one or a few variables. A few studies have identified a large number of variables (Cotton and Tuttle, 1986) (26 variables); (Joseph, Ng, 2007) (43 variables). Certain seminal attrition models seem to contradict each other’s findings. A few models have attempted to analyzed multiple models to synthesize a new theory (Bluedom, 1982). Based on the interaction with twenty six human resource managers across Information Technology, Manufacturing, Banking and Finance, Automotive, Retail, Consulting and Pharma companies the authors have hence proposed a conceptual model which introduces contemporary attrition factors such as supervisor behaviors, circumstances, impact of change of supervisor, job profile, new training, attachment with mentors, retention instruments and the role of social media, friends and family on the evaluation process. Another significant aspect is the retention counter offer made by an existing employer to retain a departing employee to control attrition.

Research Limitations: This study has extensively focused on literature review and analysis of attrition models to arrive at the findings. The authors have used a qualitative approach and hence quantitative techniques have not been used. More than hundred research papers have been reviewed in this study with a deep focus on seminal models, but they have not been segregated based on the industry type.

Practical Implications: This study offers some useful practical implications to industry in terms of determining the models that are most likely to accurately model the impact of Learning and Development on intention to quit of employees. This will help them retain more employees and thereby improve organizational performance.

Originality/Value: Most research papers analyze attrition factors but there are very few studies which analyze a large number of attrition models to arrive at a common understanding of the research problem and also to propose a conceptual model for controlling attrition.

Keywords:Attrition Models, Turnover, Learning and Development (L & D), Intention to Quit (ITQ), Attrition factors, Attrition.