• Faculty & Research

    Knowledge creation on China, from proven China experts.

    386
  • Faculty & Research

    Knowledge creation on China, from proven China experts.

    386
  • Faculty & Research

    Knowledge creation on China, from proven China experts.

    386
Monday, January 13, 2020

Employee Well‐being Attribution and Job Change Intentions

By Byron Lee, Tae-Yeol Kim, Yaping Gong, Xiaoming Zheng and Xin Liu

Jobs are at the heart of employment relationships and are considered the building blocks of careers. Job change intentions are therefore important because they affect employee career development including actual job changes in one’s career. However, external job changes (i.e., changes in jobs across organisational boundaries) and internal job changes (i.e., changes in jobs within an organisation) may have different implications for both organisations and employees. As such, it is important for organisations to understand how employee attitudes towards HR and supervisory practices affect job change intentions.

Well-being HR attribution and task I-deals

Employees sometimes make casual inferences about why certain HR practices exist, which in turn affect their attitudes toward their organisations and jobs, such as an intention to develop their career with the firm or outside the firm. For example, employees may perceive that HR practices, ranging from hiring, pay and benefits, performance appraisal, training and development, and career development (e.g., job rotation), are in place due to an underlying employee‐oriented management philosophy and that their firm’s HR practices intend to bring about well-being for employees. Moreover, employees with high well‐being HR attribution are motivated to advance their career through seeking out interesting jobs within their firm.

While HR practices are general to an employee group, an establishment, or even a whole organisation, and can affect employee job change intention, actual job content may vary from one individual to another depending on an agreement with their supervisor. Among the supervisory practices that can affect employees’ job experiences, these idiosyncratic deals regarding tasks and work responsibility (i.e., task I‐deals) are essential in managing job change in organisations.

From a social exchange perspective, task I‐deals can enhance an employee’s feelings of obligation of reciprocity, affective commitment, and commitment to their supervisor. Employees with high task I‐deals are more likely satisfied with their supervisor and subsequently commit to the organisation because their supervisor allowed them to change their job contents according to their demands. Thus, with high task I‐deals, employees may be less likely to leave their organisation. However, when task I‐deals are low (i.e., a supervisor does not provide employees with specific arrangements to change aspects of their jobs), the well‐being HR attribution stemming from the generic organisational HR practices may become more important in affecting external job change intention.

One reason that employees seek task I‐deals is to increase their personal development by developing new skills. As high task I‐deals occur due to support from their supervisor, employees may perceive high task I‐deals as encouraging their future development and well‐being, further enhancing their desire to find a new job within the organisation which is more aligned with their newly developed skills. By contrast, when task I‐deals are low, supervisors do not agree to idiosyncratic changes to the tasks in the jobs and discourage employees from seeking new tasks and responsibilities. This supervisory practice may send a contrasting message from organisational HR practices associated with employee well‐being HR attribution, attenuating the positive effect of employee well‐being HR attribution on internal job change intention.

Job change intentions in automobile sales and service shop employees

In order to learn more about the effects of well-being HR attribution and task I-deals on job change intentions, we collected data from employees working for an automobile sales and service shop company located in Northern China. A total of 944 employees responded to a survey asking them to assess employee well‐being HR attribution, task I‐deals, and external and internal job change intentions.

In response to our survey, we found that employee well‐being HR attribution is negatively and significantly correlated with external job change intention and is positively and significantly correlated with internal job change intention. At the same time, we discovered that the interaction of employee well‐being HR attribution and task I‐deals is significantly related to external job change intention. Specifically, HR employee well‐being attribution is significantly and negatively related to external job change intention when task I‐deals are high. However, the negative relationship becomes even stronger when task I‐deals are low.

We also found that the interaction of employee well‐being HR attribution and task‐idiosyncratic deals is significantly related to internal job change intention. Employee well‐being HR attribution is significantly and positively related to internal job change intention in employees with relatively high task I‐deals. However, for employees with low task I‐deals, it is not significant.

Conclusions

Organisations should understand that employee attribution of HR practices can significantly influence employee mind-sets toward internal and external job changes. Employees’ beliefs that HR practices exist for their well‐being have positive implications in reducing external job change intention and can increase job change intention within the organisation. Furthermore, organisations should not only consider the content of HR practices but also be cognisant of how HR practices are communicated to employees, which can influence why employees perceive HR practices exist.

In addition, supervisors can play an important role in enhancing or mitigating the relationship between employee well‐being attribution of HR practices and internal or external job change intention. Although supervisors often do not have full control over HR practices offered within the firm, our findings suggest that supervisors who extend task I-deals employees can decrease the importance of employee attribution of organisational HR practices in reducing external job change intention. Moreover, allowing these negotiated deals on job tasks can strengthen the relationship between employee well‐being HR attribution and employee intention to find another job within the same organisation. As such, managers need to understand the specific needs of each employee and utilise their authority to adjust the nature of their job to motivate them.

A complete version of this paper can be view online here.

Byron Lee is an Assistant Professor of Management at CEIBS. Tae-Yeol Kim is the Philips Chair in Management and the Department Chair in Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management Department at CEIBS. Yaping Gong is a Chair Professor of Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Xiaoming Zheng is a full professor in the Department of Leadership and Organisation Management at the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University. Xin Liu is an assistant professor in the Organisation and Human Resources Department at the Renmin Business School at Renmin University of China.