Previous research has found inconsistent links between operations tempo (OPTEMPO) and turnover in military personnel. This study addressed these inconsistent findings by including different operational definitions of retention, assessing whether the relation between OPTEMPO and turnover is curvilinear, and examining the impact of subjective perceptions of OPTEMPO on turnover. U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe were surveyed (N = 288) and interviewed (n = 177). Career intentions closely matched actual retention behavior as measured in archival records. Both perceptions of role overload related to OPTEMPO and workload measures of OPTEMPO were linked with career decision. Role overload related to work hours was associated with turnover, whereas a workload measure was not. Number of temporary duty (TDY) days was found to be curvilinear in relation to retention. Qualitative data identified similar reasons for turnover and retention across rank groups, but the way in which these reasons were processed differed by rank. Future research needs to consider rank, work context, definitions, and perceptions of OPTEMPO, as well as the influence of TDY days on turnover decisions.
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