Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Impact of Human Resource Management on State Government IT Employee Turnover Intentions

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Impact of Human Resource Management on State Government IT Employee Turnover Intentions

Article excerpt


There is a growing consensus that organizational human resource policies or practices provide a significant contribution to organizational performance in public and private organizations. Since the 1990s, one of the leading challenges in public personnel management has been implementing effective human capital strategies to enhance government performance and accountability. The literature of human resource management (HRM) in the private sector emphasizes that human resource management practices can help to create a source of sustained competitive advantage, especially when they are aligned with a firm's competitive strategy. (1)

The current emphasis on organizational performance and individual productivity has made retention and absenteeism major concerns for human resource managers in both the public and private sectors. Results of several studies of public employees demonstrated that voluntary turnover is a function of the level of human resource management practices, individual characteristics, unemployment, geographical region, organizational size, unionization, and occupational characteristics. (2) Previous research on turnover also indicated that pay satisfaction and promotion opportunities decrease turnover and turnover intentions. (3) By examining the determinants of turnover in private organizations, Guthrie (4) found that use of high-involvement human resource practices, including internal promotion, performance-based promotions, employee participatory programs, cross-training or cross utilization, and training focused on future skill requirements are positively associated with employee retention.

The increasing use of advanced information technology (IT) for government is creating new challenges and altering certain aspects of human resource management in the public sector. The Internet, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and other Web-based tools are being used by governments at all levels for projects involving external collaboration, civic engagement, networking, customer service, and homeland security. (5) Specifically, in the United States, the growing dependence on IT is making the recruitment and retention of trained/experienced employees a high priority for both private and public organizations. (6) Studies by organizations such as the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA) (7) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) (8) suggest that successful IT employee recruitment and retention is essential if electronic government (e-government) is ever to become a reality. In addition, the current emphasis on homeland security at all levels of government is increasing the demand for employees with IT skills. (9)

The costs associated with IT employee turnover and the loss of talented IT employees increase the need to identify human resource management practices that affect retention. Specifically, given the budgetary constraints and expanded e-government services expected, state governments face the complex challenges of managing an effective state IT workforce, including recruitment, retention, and development strategies. The efforts to develop state IT workforce management strategies can be especially hindered due to the constraints of civil service systems and traditional public personnel management. Scholars find that the civil service system emphasizing rules and regulations, control systems, political context, and limited autonomy and flexibility can serve as a barrier to creating outcome-oriented human resource management in the public sector. (10) Despite increased research on e-government and IT workforces in the public sector, limited attention has been paid to the identification of specific HRM practices that affect IT employee retention in state governments. The objective of this study is to analyze the impact of HRM on state government IT employee turnover intentions.

To enhance our understanding of the impact of HRM practices on state government IT employee turnover intentions, survey questionnaires were sent to IT workers in 38 state governments. …

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