We run a field experiment to investigate the impact of employer-employee communications on employee turnover. Our study firm - a network of 238 retail stores located in an Eastern European EU member state - has been troubled with store staff turnover averaging at 90% per year, a figure high even for the retail sector standards. Turnover is expensive, costing about 400 Euros per quit worth of time spent finding and training up a replacement. Low pay and limited career options have been blamed for high store staff turnover.
Yet, the fact that half of the leaving staff quit within the first three months on the job suggests that turnover could be reduced by better induction into the firm, which we believe can be accomplished through improved employer-employee communications. Hence, our first experimental treatment, labelled "job induction", is to send a letter signed by the firm CEO to the treatment group store managers motivating them to do what they can to reduce staff turnover. In particular, the letter mentions the importance of helping employees fully integrate into their teams, of training new hires, and of having an open ear for the concerns workers may have, especially in the beginning of their tenure.
Our second treatment, labelled "career communication", is about communication with the staff regarding career options at our study firm. Although career options for store staff are perceived as limited, the facts are that a considerable proportion of store and regional managers were promoted from cashiers, and that our study firm offers a variety of careers in its HR, logistics, finance and production divisions (we do not cover these in our experiment). Employees in the stores selected for our second treatment receive letters emphasizing these facts and encouraging them to contact a specially appointed HR officer for information on career possibilities.
Finally, our third treatment combines the above two so that we can learn whether job induction and career communication are substitutes, complements or neutral to each other in their effect on staff turnover.
We select employees into treatments or control group by store using stratified randomization. In addition to store average quit rate, which is our outcome variable, we balance the treatment and control group in terms of store sales, size and location, as these characteristics are correlated with staff turnover. We work with store and regional managers to ensure that we can detect and minimize information spillovers between stores in different treatment groups. The field experiments starts on September 01st, 2015.