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The impact of employer-employee communication on employee turnover
Last registered on August 31, 2015

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The impact of employer-employee communication on employee turnover
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000826
Initial registration date
August 31, 2015
Last updated
August 31, 2015 11:13 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Cologne
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Goethe-University, Frankfurt
PI Affiliation
Goethe-University, Frankfurt
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2014-01-01
End date
2016-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
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.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Friebel, Guido, Matthias Heinz and Nick Zubanov. 2015. "The impact of employer-employee communication on employee turnover." AEA RCT Registry. August 31. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.826-1.0.
Former Citation
Friebel, Guido, Matthias Heinz and Nick Zubanov. 2015. "The impact of employer-employee communication on employee turnover." AEA RCT Registry. August 31. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/826/history/5141.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2015-09-01
Intervention End Date
2016-02-29
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Personnel turnover

Sales, absenteeism
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
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.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer: 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.
Randomization Unit
Shop
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
238 stores
Sample size: planned number of observations
238
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
59-60 in each treatment group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers