Psychological contract fulfilment, engagement and nurse professional turnover intention

Cathy Sheehan, Tse Leng Tham, Peter Holland, Brian Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyse the effect of nurses’ experience of the fulfilment of their psychological contract on their intention to leave the nursing profession and to consider employee engagement as a mediator between the fulfilment of the psychological contract of nurses and their intention to leave their profession. Design/methodology/approach: The authors used a quantitative, cross-sectional research design. In total, 1,039 Australian nurses completed an anonymous online survey conducted via the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation website. Structural equation modelling was used to test the hypotheses. Findings: The fulfilment of promises related to interesting job content and social atmosphere were negatively associated with intentions to leave the nursing profession, and these relationships were mediated by engagement. The fulfilment of promises related to career development, financial rewards and work–life balance were not associated with intentions to leave the nursing profession. Research limitations/implications: To ensure professional nurse retention, it is necessary to not just promise nurses interesting jobs and a supportive social atmosphere, but to manage nurse perceptions regarding the fulfilment of these promises. Originality/value: Although there has been extensive research on nurse intention to leave their current job, the important area of nurse professional turnover has received less attention. The research highlights the importance of fulfilling expectations and promises related to interesting nurse job content that encourages nurse responsibility and autonomy as well as promises of a social atmosphere that includes co-operative relationships and good communication with colleagues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-16
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Manpower
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Engagement
  • Nurses
  • Professional turnover intention
  • Psychological contracts

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