Further examination of predictors of turnover intention among mental health professionals.J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2017 Feb; 24(1):41-56.JP
WHAT IS KNOWN ON THE SUBJECT?: When mental health professionals leave organizations, detrimental effects on quality of patient care occur. Reasons for leaving include incivility, lack of autonomy, perceptions of unfair treatment and feeling psychologically unsafe at work. This paper sought to investigate additional reasons why mental health professionals intend to quit or to cognitively withdraw from their jobs. WHAT DOES THIS PAPER ADD TO EXISTING KNOWLEDGE?: Past research on this topic is limited in its scope and data. Mainly fragmented evidence is available about predictors of job satisfaction and turnover intention (i.e. different mental health occupations examined in separate studies). Only two existing studies that examined broader mental health provider groups were limited by including few workforce settings, small sample sizes and insufficiently rigorous statistical analyses. We examined four occupations (mental health nurses, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists), each represented through a large sample in multiple settings, all within one large healthcare network with complex patients. Our contribution is finding additional predictors (supervisory support, emotional exhaustion) of job satisfaction/turnover intention. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE?: Organizations can consider using culture change initiatives to increase civility at work; this includes leadership support and role modelling of workplace behaviours. Leaders should monitor staffing levels and high workloads to pre-empt emotional exhaustion, which predicts turnover. Hiring and training supervisors should involve not only technical expertise, but also 'soft skills' necessary for creating civil and supportive work environments. Leaders and managers should use employee feedback data (e.g. organizational surveys) to learn about the workplace environments, and address areas of employees' concern.
Introduction Given the global shortage of mental health professionals, high turnover rates within this workforce are concerning. We used United States of America Veterans Health Administration data to add to the limited knowledge about this topic. Aim We examined predictors of turnover intention, or an employee's cognitive withdrawal from their job, in a large sample of direct care mental health professionals, separating among occupations to increase the pragmatic relevance of our findings. Method Survey data from 10 997 mental health employees working in direct patient contact (2432 registered nurses, 3769 social workers, 2520 psychologists and 1276 psychiatrists) were used in a cross-sectional design with structural equation modelling techniques for model testing. Results Job satisfaction was predicted by civility (courteous and respectful workplace behaviours) and supervisory support. Job satisfaction predicted emotional exhaustion which predicted turnover intention. Job satisfaction also directly predicted turnover intention and turnover plans. Discussion Predictors of job satisfaction included civility and supervisory support. Emotional exhaustion predicted turnover intention. Results inform organizational actions to address these work environment characteristics. Implications for practice Organizations can initiate culture changes to improve civility and develop supervisors' 'soft skills' in conjunction with technical expertise.