Most of us, at some time in our lives, have had jobs in which we felt unfulfilled, mistreated, or without purpose. And those feelings are strongly reflected in the holistic value we derive from our jobs and probability that we stay on versus quit. But what, if anything, can firms do to address workers’ dissatisfaction and prevent turnover? We decided to test whether a simple intervention — asking workers for feedback — might be successful at reducing quit rates.

This idea is rooted in a prominent economic theory, first proposed by Albert Hirschman in 1970 in a book titled Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, which reasons that workers can do one of two things when faced with an unsatisfactory employment situation: exit the relationship (quit), or voice their concerns and try to work through their problems. This theory, despite its huge influence on both academic thought and firm policies, has never been experimentally tested in a large-scale real-world setting.

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