Understanding the Drivers of Job Satisfaction of Frontline Service Employees: Learning From “Lost Employees”

Piyush Kumar, Mayukh Dass, Omer Topaloglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In this article, we examine the antecedent structure of the terminal level of job satisfaction of frontline service employees who have recently quit a firm. The results from the estimation of a latent, finite-mixture model, using data collected from former employees of a large supermarket chain, point to a two-dimensional heterogeneity among exiting employees. We find systematic variation in the relative importance of the drivers of job satisfaction, such as work environment, personality, and demographics, across employee subgroups. We also find that the threshold level of the terminal satisfaction for exiting employees could be high for some and low for others. These findings stand in contrast to the inverse satisfaction-turnover intent link documented for existing employees and provide new explanations for the observed weakness in the relationship. They are also inconsistent with the attraction-selection-attrition model that argues for a convergence in employee dispositions. We suggest that job satisfaction and turnover models can be enhanced by adopting a utility-theoretic perspective that accommodates variations in the structure and threshold levels of terminal satisfaction. To this end, we provide some guidelines for how exiting rather than existing employees can provide an alternative avenue for diagnosing the quitting process and ultimately improving the predictive power of turnover models. Finally, we suggest that the allocation of employee retention resources based on either a common model of job satisfaction, or assuming a monotonic satisfaction-intent relationship, may be inefficient. Instead, we argue for model-based, group-specific retention programs to reduce frontline service employee turnover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-380
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Service Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 12 2014


  • employee retention
  • employee turnover
  • frontline service employees
  • job satisfaction
  • latent class models
  • turnover intention


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