Constituent attachment and voluntary turnover in low-wage/low-skill service work

Jill E. Ellingson, Michael J. Tews, Alison M. Dachner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This paper draws on life stage theory, ethnographic research conducted in the service sector, and evidence for secondary segmentation within the low-wage/low-skill labor force to offer evidence that social bond development with coworkers can help reduce the high rate of turnover observed in low-wage/low-skill service work. Contrary to the belief that these employees will leave before social ties can develop, constituent attachment was found to be the only significant predictor of turnover in 2 samples of front-line service workers in a casual dining, national restaurant chain after controlling for other aspects of work that can create a sense of attachment to a job, and other job attitudes, such as satisfaction and commitment. However, the effect was dependent on developmental life stage. Constituent attachment reduced turnover among workers classified as emerging adults, whereas constituent attachment did little to affect turnover among nonemerging adults. Implications of the results are discussed with respect to the value of considering segmentation in future research on turnover in the service sector and the use of life stage theory for understanding the leaving behavior of workers in different stages of adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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