Job Embeddedness

Umbrella Summary

What is job embeddedness?

Job embeddedness refers to the extent to which employees are connected to their jobs through a social web. It includes three aspects, each of which is considered in light of the job or organization (“on-the-job embeddedness”) and the community (“off-the job embeddedness”): (a) links—the extent to which people have links to other people or activities, (b) fit—the extent to which their job and community are similar to or fit with the other aspects in their life space, and (c) sacrifice—what they would give up if they left, especially if they had to move to another city or home (Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, Sablynski, & Erez, 2001).

Why is job embeddedness important?

Job embeddedness is important because it is positively associated with job satisfaction, affective organizational commitment (an aspect of organizational commitment that is based on identification with, involvement in, and emotional attachment to the organization; Allen & Meyer, 1990), and job performance (Jiang, Lu, McKay, Lee, & Mitchell, 2012). Most important, as a variable intended to describe why people stay, it is negatively related to job search behavior, turnover intentions, and turnover, particularly in public organizations (Jiang et al., 2012; Rubenstein, Eberly, Lee, & Mitchell, 2017). On-the-job embeddedness is more strongly predictive of both performance and turnover than off-the-job embeddedness (Jiang et al., 2012).

How can job embeddedness be increased?

Research on job embeddedness thus far has focused on assessing factors that are merely associated with embeddedness, not on testing strategies for improving it or on examining whether improving it affects outcomes like turnover. Nonetheless, typical suggestions for improving it include activities that establish connections at work and at home, such as work parties, informal gatherings, good opportunities and benefits, use of teams and committees, ensuring a good fit between a person’s skills and the job, flexible scheduling, and access to community attractions (Crossley, Bennett, Jex, & Burnfield, 2007; Lee, Burch, & Mitchell, 2014).

QIC-WD Takeaways

  • Job embeddedness is moderately predictive of turnover and minimally predictive of performance.
  • On-the-job embeddedness is more strongly predictive of both performance and turnover than off-the-job embeddedness.
  • Research is needed to develop and test strategies to improve job embeddedness and to test whether improving job embeddedness reduces turnover.
  • Suggested, but untested, strategies for improving job embeddedness generally involve establishing employees’ connections at work and at home.


Allen, N. J., & Meyer, J. P. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance, and normative commitment to the organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 1–18.

Crossley, C., Bennett, R. J., Jex, S. M., & Burnfield, J. L. (2007). Development of a global measure of job embeddedness and integration into a traditional model of voluntary turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1031–1042.

Jiang, K., Lu, D., McKay, P. F., Lee, T. W., & Mitchell, T. R. (2012). When and how is job embeddedness predictive of turnover? A meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97, 1077–1096.

Lee, T. W., Burch, T. C., & Mitchell, T. R. (2014). The story of why we stay: A review of job embeddedness. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1, 199–216.

Mitchell, T. R., Holtom, B. C., Lee, T. W., Sablynski, C. J., & Erez, M. (2001). Why people stay: Using job embeddedness to predict voluntary turnover. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 1102–1121.

Rubenstein, A. L., Eberly, M. B., Lee, T. W., & Mitchell, T. R. (2017). Surveying the forest: A meta-analysis, moderator investigation, and future-oriented discussion of the antecedents of voluntary employee turnover. Personnel Psychology, 71, 1–43.


Megan Paul, PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Suggested Citation

Paul, M. (2020, April 22). Umbrella summary: Job embeddedness. Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development.


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