Publication Date

Fall 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Randy Capps (Director), Kimberlee Everson, and Janet Applin

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


Competition within the United States workforce is growing at an unprecedented rate. Turnover rates of all organizations and businesses have reached an all-time high. According to the U.S. Labor Department, 4.3 million Americans quit their job in the month of August alone. Times have shifted to where the ball no longer resides on the side of employers, but now it resides with employees. As such, it is vital to ensure workplaces are enjoyable and encompass cultures that produce high levels of motivation, satisfaction, and engagement. As such, the retention of skilled and qualified employees must be at the forefront of each organization’s mission as a means to retain employees and reduce the risk of turnover.

The present study surveys federal pretrial and probation officers across the United States (N = 584) by using a predictive design to make inferences on whether specified motivational factors predict the risk of turnover within the federal probation system. Specifically, officers were presented with 12 factors identified as contributors of employee motivation by various theorists and present-day researchers.

Based on the results of this study, the federal probation system has a relatively low risk of turnover, and the average risk was calculated and found to be 8.54 on a scale of 1 to 25. In analyzing means, officers indicated being treated fairly, having job security, and receiving good wages are the top motivators desired within the workplace. In comparison, officers reported the presence of having job security, interesting work, and good wages in their positions. A t-test including desired and present motivational factors reveals significant differences exist among all identified factors, which suggests that in every case officers desire more from their districts than they are receiving.

Subsequent multiple regressions were conducted to address the second and third research question. This study found that of those factors desired within the workplace: feeling appreciated, feeling empowered and autonomous, having interesting work, having the potential for promotions/growth, having a positive relationship with management, and having job security significantly predicted the risk of turnover. Regarding factors that were perceived to be present within the workplace: this study found that having aworklife balance, feeling appreciated, having a positive relationship with management, having interesting work, and having good wages significantly predicted the risk of turnover.

This research provides pertinent information for the federal probation system, as it blatantly identifies factors that must be present in order to ensure the risk of turnover remains low. This knowledge is ideal for locations in which turnover may be elevated, and it could also be utilized as a resource for districts looking to improve their overall workplace culture and performance.

It should be noted that while the risk of turnover is low, this does not necessarily mean officers are motivated or have high levels of satisfaction and/or engagement. As such, further research should be conducted to assess those factors to garner a more wellrounded view of the organization.


Leadership Studies | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Performance Management