Downshifting: Varför downskiftar medarbetare och hur kan de fasthållas?

Linda Marie Charlotte Persson

Student thesis: Master thesis


Linear careers and upward career movements have long been considered normal and desirable in the Western society. However, in many countries, people with good career prospects have started to redefine work and transform the employment relationship in unexpected ways. When people reduce work hours, voluntary step off organizational “fast tracks” or leave their employers altogether in order to pursue more meaningful work or to live a more fulfilling and slower paced life, it’s called “downshifting”. Downshifting is problematic for most organizations since employee turnover is costly and there is a lack of qualified candidates who can easily substitute key employees. Therefore, it is in most organizations’ interest to retain employees who consider downshifting as a lifestyle change. Downshifting is not a well-known phenomenon in Sweden and Denmark and the purpose of this thesis is to convey an understanding of downshifting and the reasons behind it, as well as to present suggestions for retaining employees with downshifting tendencies. By reviewing the existing literature on downshifting and related phenomenon downshifting is explained as “a downward deviation from an established labour market or earnings path” (Schor 2001), but a diversity of other definitions and types of downshifts exist. In this thesis, a variety of reasons why employees downshift are analysed from a personal- organizational- and societal perspective. Downshifting is a complex matter without a simple answer. But the need for time, autonomy and authenticity are frequently quoted reasons for downshifting in the literature. Building on the insights of this thesis and the generic employee retention literature, five suggestions for retaining potential downshifters are presented. The suggestions include using the parameters of Mainiero & Sullivan´s (2006) Kaleidoscope Career Model in the selection and recruitment process, give employees time off and time-outs from work, create work-life satisfaction by individual work design, provide authentic and meaningful work and retaining downshifters through adequate and attentive leadership.

EducationsMSocSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages94