Employee Perceptions of Workforce Retention Strategies in a Health System

By Belbin, Cheryl; Erwee, Ronel et al. | Journal of Management and Organization, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Employee Perceptions of Workforce Retention Strategies in a Health System


Belbin, Cheryl, Erwee, Ronel, Wiesner, Retha, Journal of Management and Organization


ABSTRACT: This quantitative study explores the perceptions of 379 nurses using a survey to assess awareness of, participation in, and effectiveness of 28 workforce retention strategies offered by Queensland Health. Perceptions of workforce retention strategies were also examined to determine if any aspects of the strategy (retention factors) had an influence on turnover intention. The major findings were that respondents were more aware and had participated to a greater extent in those strategies that were included in Queensland Health policy or were part of the nursing Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. Strategies ranked as most effective included those that provided a monetary advantage and to a lesser extent, a professional development opportunity. A positive relationship was found between retention factors and decreased turnover intention.

KEYWORDS: motivation, turnover, retention, workforce retention strategies, retention factors

Retaining a skilled workforce and decreasing unwanted employee turnover is an economic and service delivery necessity for organisations. Key to operational and service delivery excellence is high employee retention. Many studies have investigated the job satisfaction/turnover relationship. This study builds on these previous works, focusing on employee perceptions of workforce retention strategies and their relationship with employee turnover intention. Despite the many resources being invested in developing and implementing workforce retention strategies and the dire consequences that may result when turnover is unwanted; it was found that there was a paucity of research regarding retention strategies and turnover intent in Queensland Health. Using this justification, the chosen research approach was driven by four major points: a gap existed in the literature; the importance of workforce retention strategies; development of a conceptual framework as a contribution to theory; and the potential applications of the research's findings, especially in health services.

Acknowledging the increased interest and the consequent financial commitment organisations make in retaining employees, the obvious question was whether any of this effort made a difference to employee intention to turnover. The contention argued was that workforce retention strategies did have some effect on an employee's intention to turnover, but that there were probably greater influences on the decision to leave or stay.

The study was conducted within Queensland Health, a department of the Queensland Government, Australia. It is a large multi-layered, diverse and complex organisation employing approximately 74,000 staff. This diverse group includes clinicians, administrators, operational staff, trades people and artisans in 25 different occupational streams (Queensland Health, 2010). The department had 15 health service districts across the state ranging from highly populated metropolitan to sparsely populated rural and remote communities. Services provided included acute care, acute and community-based mental health, primary health care in community health settings and population health units (Queensland Health, 2008). Queensland Health's budget for 2011-2012 was $11.046 billion (Queensland Health, 2011).

LITERATURE REVIEW

A review of the literature revealed that many studies investigating employee retention and turnover have been published (Best Practice Australia and New Zealand, 2008; Huang, Lin, & Chuang, 2005; Mitchell, Holtom, & Lee, 2001; Mobley, Griffeth, Hand, & Meglino, 1979; Udechukwu & Mujtaba, 2007), but not many studies investigated workforce retention strategies and their relationship with turnover or turnover intention (Asquith, Sardo, & Begley, 2008; Kuhar, Miller, Spear, Ulreich, & Mion, 2004; Leurer, Donnelly, & Domm, 2007). Personal and organisational costs of leaving a job are often high and for these reasons understanding employee retention and turnover has the attention of top level managers in today's organisations (Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, Sablynski, & Erez, 2001). …

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