Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Human Resource Practices as Predictors of Engineering Staff's Organisational Commitment

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Human Resource Practices as Predictors of Engineering Staff's Organisational Commitment

Article excerpt

Introduction

Human resource (HR) practices have become an increasingly important means for an improved business approach in order for an organisation to survive, remain competitive, sustain its business functions and grow in an ever-changing and competitive environment (Papulova & Papulova, 2006). HR practices have therefore become an essential aspect of organisational culture in retaining professionally qualified employees such as engineers (Aggarwal & D'Souza, 2012; Chang, Wang & Huang, 2013; Deloitte & Touche, 2009). The May 2014 draft of the South African National Scarce Skills List indicated engineering skills as on one of the top five scarce critical skills for economic growth (Department of Higher Education and Training [DHET], 2014). The high voluntary turnover and skills shortages (Wöcke & Heymann, 2012) of professionally qualified people such as engineers seem to be a major obstacle to economic growth and job creation (Construction Education and Training Authority [CETA], 2007; Döckel, 2003; Kraak, 2008; Rasool & Botha, 2011). The skills shortages further seem to limit South African businesses' level of global participation (Rasool & Botha, 2011). To deal with these challenges, organisations are continuously striving to improve their culture and implement HR practices that will enable them to survive, retain talented employees, remain competitive, sustain their business functions and grow in a turbulent business environment (Arachchige & Robertson, 2011; Coetzee & Veldsman, 2013).

Background

In the present study, HR practices are studied as an aspect of organisational culture. Deloitte and Touche's (2009) approach to measuring organisational culture focuses on the HR practices that represent the top world-class companies. Rashid, Sambasivan and Johari (2002) posit that the human resource practices associated with high-performing organisational cultures have attracted academia and practitioner attention over the past two decades because of their effects and potential impact on organisational success and staff retention in the contemporary and future world of work. Previous studies have indicated that the underlying values, beliefs and principles embedded in an organisation's culture serve as a valuable foundation for an organisation's management system and are exemplified and reinforced by the company's HR practices and behaviours (Abu-Jarad, Yusof & Nikbin, 2010; Eskildsen & Dahlgaard, 2000; Martins & Martins, 2002). Organisational culture, including the HR practices that represent the culture, is regarded as a strong strategic lever in creating an engaged and committed workforce (Martins & Coetzee, 2007).

Amah (2012) draws attention to the fact that the hypothesis that strong cultures enhance organisational performance is based on the intuitively powerful idea that organisations benefit from highly committed, motivated employees dedicated to common goals. For instance, organisational commitment is perceived as a key determinant of employee turnover due to its supposed sensitivity to the elements surrounding the work environment (Chang et al., 2013; Döckel, Basson & Coetzee, 2006; Meyer & Allen, 1991). The work environment is regarded as a combination of the psychological environment, HR practices and corporate culture that enable employees to perform their jobs with appropriate support or workplace flexibility, ongoing training opportunities (including teaching job, social and leadership skills) and clear career path and advancement opportunities (Amah, 2012; Döckel, 2003).

Previous studies have shown that organisational culture and HR practices (for example, leadership behaviour, performance management, training and development, compensation and communication) influence employee satisfaction, turnover intentions and organisational commitment (Chang et al., 2013; Döckel, 2003; Martins & Coetzee, 2007; Swart, 2009). Research further indicates that organisational commitment can lead to favourable organisational outcomes, including organisational effectiveness, improved performance and reduced staff turnover (Meyer & Allen, 1997; Saif, Nawaz, Jan & Khan, 2012). …

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