”Should I stay, or should I go”: Teachers’ motivation to stay at their workplace

Teacher retention is a persistent problem for many schools to date. In some municipalities in Sweden as much as 15-25% percent of teachers quit every year, which roughly corresponds to 5 to 10 teacher changes during high-school years. While some turnover is considered necessary and healthy for schools, too much instability is harmful for both students’ results and teachers’ health. There is therefore an urgent need to gain more knowledge on how to reduce teacher turnover.


Limitations of previous studies on teacher turnover is that the majority have been cross-sectional register studies, conducted in countries with different school systems and contextual factors compared to Sweden. Moreover, these studies have mostly studied factors that influence teacher’s decision to leave their profession. Few studies have however examined which factors affect teacher’s motivation and decision to stay at their workplace. Moreover, knowledge is lacking on which strategies schools use to retain their teachers.

The aim of this project is therefore to increase our knowledge on how teacher turnover at schools can be reduced, and which specific strategies are needed for schools to keep their teachers. In contrast to previous studies, we will examine this at individual level (teacher) and aggregated level (school).


The project builds on existing extensive cross-sectional data collected by AFA-insurance (n=5000 teachers) and from the iSkol-project, through which we have the possibility to follow 700 teachers from 20 public primary schools over a 24-month period. The project will also include a new data collection, which consists of interviews with representatives of the educational boards of two municipalities, school principals and teachers. Based on the results of the project recommendations will be given to decision makers and schools regarding how to minimize teacher turnover. The next step is to develop and evaluate interventions aimed at preventing teacher turnover.

Researchers, project time, and financing

Participating researchers are Lydia Kwak (project-leader), Jeffrey Casely-Hayford (doctoral student within the project), Christina Björklund, Per Lindqvist and Gunnar Bergström.

The project-period is three years and will be finalized the 31st of December 2022.

The project is financed by Forte.


Result from the first study of the project has been published in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education.

Casely-Hayford, J., Björklund, C., Bergström, G., Lindqvist, P., & Kwak, L. (2022). What makes teachers stay? A cross-sectional exploration of the individual and contextual factors associated with teacher retention in Sweden. Teaching and Teacher education, 113, article 103664. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2022.103664  

Results from the second study of the project has been published in the journal Educational Sciences.

Casely-Hayford J, Lindqvist P, Björklund C, Bergström G, Kwak L. Enculturating a Protective Professional Community—Processes of Teacher Retention in a Swedish Hard-to-Staff School. Education Sciences. 2024; 14(1):114. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci14010114 



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Lydia Kwak

Senior Lecturer
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