Fun in the workplace and employee turnover: is less managed fun better?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Despite previous research indicating that fun in the workplace has favorable outcomes, the effect of fun on turnover has not been definitively determined. The present study analyzed the direct effects on turnover of three dimensions of fun: fun activities, coworker socializing and manager support for fun, and the moderating influence of managed fun (e.g. whether fun is perceived as contrived). Design/methodology/approach: Logistic regression was used to analyze the fun in the workplace-turnover relationship with a sample of 491 hourly associates from 141 stores of a US national retailer. Data on the fun were obtained through surveys that were paired with turnover data collected six months afterward from corporate records. Findings: Fun activities were only found to be associated with a lower turnover when employees perceived fun as less managed. When employees perceived fun as more managed, fun activities had no effect on turnover. Coworker socializing was associated with a lower turnover when fun was perceived as less managed and higher turnover when fun was perceived as more managed. Research limitations/implications: As the data were obtained from employees from one organization, further research would be valuable with additional samples to substantiate the generalizability of the results. Practical implications: Given the challenge of turnover and the increasing prevalence of efforts to promote fun in the workplace, organizations should allow fun activities to be less managed (and thus more organic) to help reduce turnover. Originality/value: While previous research has addressed managed/less managed fun in qualitative research, the present study represents the first investigation to examine this aspect of fun in the workplace from a quantitative perspective and to examine its relationship with employee turnover.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEmployee Relations
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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