Staff Word-of-Mouth (SWOM) and retail employee recruitment

Kathleen A. Keeling, Peter J. McGoldrick, Henna Sadhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers and employers have largely neglected the wider influence of Staff Word-of-Mouth (SWOM), whereas employee referral programs are an established form of recruitment. This paper positions SWOM as a specific form of WOM, communicated by present and former employees, which can influence potential applicants at the prerecruitment stage. Scenario-based Study 1, with retail employees/applicants, shows differential effects on organizational attractiveness of SWOM with positive versus negative messages and tangible versus intangible information, if obtained from strong versus weak social ties.In Study 2, a survey of retail prehires demonstrates mediation and moderation effects on organizational attractiveness of job-seekers' precommitment, fit perceptions with the retailer, and mentoring/aspirational ties. Retailers are urged to develop the potential of SWOM through improved understanding, responding, motivating, and keeping employees informed. The study establishes a conceptual foundation to encourage further research into SWOM as a communication channel and a means to influence precommitment of prospective employees. © 2013 New York University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-104
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Retailing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Employee recruitment
  • Information valence
  • Organizational attractiveness
  • Precommitment
  • Social networks
  • Staff Word-of-Mouth


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