Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Paul Shelton, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Brad Jensen, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Debra Espinor, Ed.D.


Attracting and retaining talent was identified as the most critical growth driver for 77% of U.S. executives in 2022, and they plan to increase investment in talent attraction and retention in the coming years (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2022). The problem in supporting and guiding leaders’ investments in retention through existing turnover research and findings is two-fold. First, past research has primarily used data collection with “leavers” who have already left the organization, sometimes long after the turnover was experienced. Secondly, studies have focused on attitudes, satisfaction levels, employee attributes, and job features, which have shown poor predictive ability for voluntary turnover (Hom et al., 2017; Lee et al., 2017). Prior research in career shock has found this shock experience to be the precipitating factor in the majority of voluntary turnover (Akkermans et al., 2018; Holtom et al., 2005; Morrell et al., 2004).

This study explored associations between career shock, voluntary turnover intention (VTI), and the occurrence of epiphany for current employees in a county government entity, along with levels of self-efficacy. Survey data was collected from 501 full-time employees, 50.5% male and 44.5% female, randomly selected from a population of 926, equaling 54% participation. Findings show that employees who have had career shock are more likely to experience VTI than those who have not had career shock, and a strong positive correlation exists between career shock and VTI. This study suggests that those who experience career shock are at significantly higher risk of forming voluntary turnover intention than those with no career shock. The results support the body of research contending that career shock has predictive ability for VTI.