Date of Conferral

2014

Degree

Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)

School

Management

Advisor

Dorothy M. Hanson

Abstract

High voluntary attrition threatens the future of downsizing organizations. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how employee layoff announcements reduces the perception of organizational commitment to experienced, skilled workers in central Wisconsin. The conceptual framework integrated stress response theories including Cannon's cognitive activation theory of stress. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 20 journeyman level artisans who had witnessed the layoff process within 50 miles of Wausau Wisconsin. These interviews were analyzed via the modified van Kaam method to code, cluster, and group the findings into significant themes. Nine themes emerged from the analyses suggesting layoff implementation strategies might reduce voluntary employee attrition. Among these 9 themes, job insecurity and mental and emotional stressors were the most prominent. A third theme, employee entitativity, defined as when members of a group share similar attributes and seen more readily as a distinct entity than as individuals, also emerged. These themes may be associated with employee voluntary attrition. Improving employee understanding of the layoff process might increase employee trust in leadership decisions, reduce voluntary attrition, increase knowledge retention, and improve organizational economic success. Employees who are equipped to endure the layoff process may suffer less stress, conceivably reducing the likelihood of drug, alcohol, and family abuse and their related social stressors.