Employee Turnover in the Hospitality Industry

Employee turnover is an essential concern for companies regardless of their size or target industry. High turnover can pose a risk of understaffing, performance losses, and decreased quality of products or services offered to customers (Brown, Thomas and Bosselman, 2015; Hom et al., 2017). Maintaining low turnover rates can also help organisations in retaining and developing talents internally, which can benefit market performance in the long term. Company X has been experiencing high turnover rates in the past few years, leading to increased human resource expenditures and performance problems.

The company operates in the hospitality industry, and high retention puts it at risk of understaffing, thus threatening the quality of service provided to customers. Local efforts to address the problem have been unsuccessful because the company lacked the information regarding the causes of turnover and employees’ perspectives on the problem.

The aim of the project was to support the company in addressing the issue and reducing turnover by identifying the key drivers of turnover and suggesting strategies for remedying them. Qualitative research was conducted using interviews as the source of information on former employees’ turnover decisions. This analysis was supported by an evaluation of turnover theory and past research. The results of the analysis allowed producing two main recommendations that could help Company X in promoting employee retention.

Literature Review

Overview

Employee turnover has become an essential topic in modern business research (Deery and Jago, 2015; Korsakienė et al., 2015). Over the years, there has been a significant increase in the number of studies available on this subject, leading to the formation of well-informed perspectives and frameworks of turnover. Lee et al. (2017) state that the great number of studies on employee turnover published since the 1920s highlights the attention devoted to this area of management.

At first, scholars focused on identifying workers who are likely to leave, thus helping organisations to find replacement quicker (Hom et al., 2017). This area of research has developed to include factors contributing to employee turnover, as it is believed that addressing these could help organisations to promote retention (Hom et al., 2017; Hongvichit, 2015; Lee et al., 2017; Rubenstein et al., 2017).

Many scholars focused on the effectiveness of various approaches to retention and their positive impact on the organisation (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Aruna and Anitha, 2015; Cloutier et al., 2015; Deery and Jago, 2015; Korsakienė et al., 2015). Beginning with the study of the nature and factors of employee turnover, researchers achieved better understanding of gaps in the organisational environment (Schlechter, Syce and Bussin, 2016). Accordingly, they started working towards addressing such gaps as poor working conditions, inappropriate leadership, a lack of jib satisfaction, et cetera.

Definitions

Despite a large number of publications on the topic, definitions of employee turnover are similar across studies, and thus there are no significant discrepancies affecting the theoretical framework. Korsakienė et al. (2015, p. 2) review the most common definitions of employee turnover, stating that it describes “rotation of workers around the labour market; between firms, jobs and occupations and between the states of employment and unemployment.”

Alternative definitions of employee turnover include the exit of employees from an organisation and their movement across the membership of an organisation (Korsakienė et al., 2015). The latter definition of turnover offered by Price (2001) is rarely used since it does not provide a sufficient level of detail, whereas the other two definitions are prevailing in literature.

However, there is a lack of consensus in definitions that affect research in the area. For instance, researchers disagree on whether voluntary turnover is implied in the definition or whether it should be considered a type of employee turnover. For example, Hom et al. (2017) define employee turnover as “employees’ voluntary severance of employment ties” (p. 530).

Other scholars, such as Hongvichit (2015), distinguish between voluntary and involuntary turnover, stating that voluntary turnover occurs upon an employee’s request and involuntary turnover is driven by dismissals or staff cuts. The differences in the understanding of turnover and its types might have led researchers to include both voluntary and involuntary turnover in their studies, but it is typically voluntary turnover that is investigated in the literature (Rubenstein et al., 2017; Schlechter, Syce and Bussin, 2016).

Voluntary turnover is more important to organisations because it can drive collective turnover if many employees decide to leave the organisation at once, as well as due to the relationship between voluntary turnover and human resources management (Hongvichit, 2015). It is believed that improvements in HRM practices can result in decreased voluntary turnover because employees would be more willing to stay in the organisation (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Korsakienė et al., 2015; Naim and Lenka, 2018; Santhanam et al., 2017).

At the same time, involuntary turnover depends on other organisational factors, such as budget and policies, and it can be more difficult to address (Hongvichit, 2015). Like many other studies in the field, the proposed research will focus on voluntary turnover, which is taken to mean an employee’s willing exit from the company.

One of the reasons for choosing voluntary turnover as the object of the study refers to the qualitative method of interviews that were selected. The use of interviews would allow for revealing the respondent’s thoughts, feelings, and experience, which are relevant for this paper. Moreover, voluntary turnover is expensive for organisations since experienced employees leave them, and recruiting and training costs are significant.

Factors Leading to Employee Turnover

As mentioned above, a prominent direction of research on employee turnover concerns its antecedents. In contemporary literature, the factors that are considered in relation to turnover or turnover intentions are mostly individual, organisational or work characteristics (Hongvichit, 2015; Lee et al., 2017; Katsikea, Theodosiou and Morgan, 2015; Zhang, 2016).

Organisational and work-related factors leading to increased turnover are particularly relevant to organisations since they can be moderated with the right HR strategies. These factors include organisational support, justice, culture, and opportunities for growth and professional development (Kalidass and Bahron, 2015; Kim et al., 2017; Mathieu and Babiak, 2016; Pang, Kucukusta and Chan, 2015; Zhang, 2016).

Researchers have also found a relationship between leadership practices and turnover, noting that certain leadership styles, such as transformational leadership, reduce turnover (Amankwaa and Anku-Tsede, 2015; Puni, Agyemang and Asamoah, 2016; Sun and Wang, 2016). As stated by Amankwaa and Anku-Tsede (2015) transformational leadership’s focus on employees’ organisational needs moderates their turnover intentions. The above cross-sectional study shows that the application of transformational studies can be used to eliminate the adverse consequences of high employee turnover.

As for individual factors related to turnover intentions, they include person-organisation fit, perceived employability, organisational citizenship behaviour, organisational commitment, friendships with colleagues and advice networks (Brown, Thomas and Boselman, 2015; Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018; Qiu et al., 2014; Santhanam et al., 2017; Vardaman et al., 2015).

For example, Santhanam et al. (2017) conducted multiple regression analyses and found that the psychological contract breach is one of the individual factors that strengthen employee turnover even though proper HRM strategies are implemented.

The relationship between the mentioned factors and employee turnover shows that it is an essential factor in determining the effectiveness of HRM practices used in the company since it is tied to other workforce and employee-related constructs. Along with individual and organisational factors, a job satisfaction level should be taken into account as another important driver of turnover.

Employee Turnover and Job Satisfaction

Another vital perspective in research that clarifies the mechanism of employee turnover is job satisfaction. Studies have shown job satisfaction to be negatively and significantly related to employees’ turnover intentions and actual turnover (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Aruna and Anitha, 2015; Ekhsan, 2019; Deery and Jago, 2015; Frederiksen, 2017; Korsakienė et al., 2015; Rubel and Kee, 2015). Here, job satisfaction increases the likelihood of an employee staying in the company, whereas job dissatisfaction, on the contrary, would lead to higher turnover.

The central theoretical perspective that relates job satisfaction and employee turnover is Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory. According to this theory, there are two sets of factors impacting individuals’ motivation: elements that are essential to job satisfaction and those that raise dissatisfaction (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018).

Hygiene factors include salary, organisational policies, work conditions, job security, supervision, and remuneration, whereas motivators are achievement and recognition, exciting work, responsibility, advancement, and growth (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018). Based on the theoretical framework described by Holston-Okae and Mushi (2018), employee turnover could be triggered by poor performance in both hygiene and motivation factors.

Thus, companies wishing to enhance retention should seek to improve HR practices and internal policies both to avoid job dissatisfaction and to increase job satisfaction of their employees. Due to the relevance of Herzberg’s theory to this paper, it would be used to link the respondents’ job satisfaction and their turnover intentions. In particular, this theory would be verified by focusing on the ability of job satisfaction to predict turnover based on organisational performance and productivity.

Gaps in Research

In spite of a significant number of scholarly articles in the given field, there is still a need for future studies regarding employee turnover. Scholars note that research should focus on emerging concerns that remain understudied, such as the relationship between cultural factors and turnover or the phenomenon of collective turnover (Lee et al., 2017; Rubenstein et al., 2017).

Lee et al. (2017) argue that there are significant differences in perceptions of turnover across businesses, industries and cultures, but this topic remains understudied in current literature. Finding out more about how perceptions of turnover in different settings influence the turnover intentions of employees could support the expansion of turnover theory while also contributing to retention practice (Lee et al., 2017). To address this gap, the present study pays attention to cultural factors impacting employees’ perceptions and attitudes.

The hospitality industry has a unique culture of turnover, making it a useful context for addressing the identified gap in research. As explained by Iverson and Deery (1997) and Holston-Okae and Mushi (2018), turnover in hospitality companies is typically high, and while companies could benefit from addressing it, turnover is rarely a significant concern for the management unless it affects staffing levels and service.

In line with the suggestions by Lee et al. (2017), perceptions of turnover (i.e. turnover culture) could influence the way people working in the hospitality industry make decisions to leave the company or stay and the factors that contribute to these choices. Studying the relationship between employee turnover and other organisational characteristics in hospitality companies could assist HRM practitioners in this industry and contribute to companies’ competitiveness.

Future research in the area is likely to expand the topic even further. For example, Rubenstein et al. (2017) suggest studying behavioural sequences predictive of employee turnover and focusing on turnover in specific cultures and nationalities to highlight differences. Lee et al. (2017) support the need for behaviour-oriented research while also highlighting other potential areas, including collective turnover, volitional control of turnover intentions and contextual differences in turnover. Advances in these topics would have a positive impact on future management practice, thus making it easier for managers to retain talented employees.

Research Aims and Questions

The gaps identified in the previous section allow narrowing down the research proposal to specific research aims and questions. First of all, it is essential to focus on the hospitality industry since employee turnover there is high, and it is not sufficiently addressed in previous studies (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018).

By studying a specific company operating in this industry, the research will contribute to hospitality managers’ understanding of the problem while also assisting in resolving it. Secondly, Rubenstein et al. (2017) pointed out for more studies focusing on actual turnover rather than turnover intentions, which is reasonable since turnover intentions do not always translate into employees leaving the company. Hence, the study will consider employees who are about to leave the company or have already left it voluntarily.

Lastly, the theoretical framework described by Holston-Okae and Mushi (2018) and supported by research in employee turnover and job satisfaction suggests the presence of a strong relationship between the two. Therefore, in evaluating company-specific drivers of employee turnover, the study will focus on the factors described in Herzber’s theory as hygiene or motivating forces.

The aim of the proposed research is to contribute to the understanding of employee turnover in the hospitality industry by exploring the factors contributing to voluntary turnover in a hospitality company. There are two main research questions that the study will seek to answer:

  1. What are the drivers of employee turnover in the chosen company?
  2. How do these drivers reflect the relationship between voluntary turnover and employee job satisfaction by Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory?

Research Design

In selecting a suitable design for the study, it is crucial to consider several factors, including the aims and objectives of a study, research questions, the available sample size and intended scope (Antwi and Hamza, 2015; Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015; Hair, 2015). Quantitative research methods are typically used for studies that seek to establish specific trends or relationships between variables.

These studies usually have large sample sizes, as this helps to ensure that the results can be generalised to other populations (Antwi and Hamza, 2015; Hair, 2015). Qualitative studies, on the other hand, aim for increased depth of the information collected and tend to have smaller sample sizes and more informative data collection instruments, such as interviews and focus groups (Antwi and Hamza, 2015; Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015; Hair, 2015).

The results of qualitative research are typically not generalisable, but they still serve to enhance the understanding of a particular phenomenon or form a theory about its relationships with other constructs (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015; Hair, 2015; Reinecke, Arnold and Palazzo, 2016). In business research, both qualitative and quantitative studies are used depending on the subject and the goal of a study.

For this research, a phenomenological case study design was selected for two reasons. First of all, the limited sample size allows for collecting more in-depth data, but quantitative data obtained from it might not be generalisable or reliable. Hence, using this sample for qualitative data collection would be more beneficial.

Secondly, the research aims and questions identified in the previous section relate to the understanding of employee turnover and its conceptual links to employee satisfaction rather than on specific trends and correlations. Phenomenological studies focus specifically on enhancing the researchers’ knowledge of a particular phenomenon, meaning that this design fits the study’s goals and research questions perfectly (Abebrese, 2014).

The research will also include features of a case study since it is focused on a single company and aims to solve a real management issue. Case study research is a type of qualitative method that is widely used in business and management scholarship as it allows exploring practical challenges and their solutions (De Massis and Kotlar, 2014). Based on the findings of this study, it would be possible to design and carry out more extensive quantitative studies focusing on multiple companies to confirm the links and generate results that could easily be applied to other contexts.

Data Collection

In order to collect the necessary data, the study will use structured interviews with former employees who have left the company in the past few months. This source will provide relevant data on employee’s reasons for leaving the company voluntarily, which will be studied during the analysis. A set of interview questions was designed specifically for the present study and involved items related to employees’ experiences with the company, their general perceptions of organisational and work-related factors and their reasons for quitting Company X.

The decision to use structured interviews is justified by the need to ensure that the participants’ responses are not prompted by the interviewer’s use of certain words and phrases and that they reflect the participants’ actual ideas about the company. Interview transcripts will be recorded for each of the participants to avoid losing data or failing to provide complete accounts.

Data Analysis

The process of data analysis will follow a qualitative approach, with coding used to identify commonalities across the responses of different employees. A three-step qualitative data coding process will be applied, which includes open, axial and selective coding (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015; Hair, 2015).

Open coding will be used to separate the information into categories or themes, whereas axial coding will help to group the data by these categories or themes (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015; Hair, 2015). Selective coding will be used to relate the core category of employee turnover with other categories identified during earlier coding. The process will be documented, and results will be drawn from the three-step analysis.

Reflection on the Validity and Reliability of the Method

Validity and reliability are essential constructs in quantitative research, but their application in qualitative studies is limited because it is not always possible to evaluate qualitative instruments and data. For this reason, qualitative research often faces criticism related to its quality and robustness (Leung, 2015). Still, it is possible to comment on the validity and reliability of the method by considering its appropriateness and consistency (Leung, 2015).

In the present case, the data will be drawn from structured interviews, which limits the risk of unreliable or biased answers through the use of carefully formulated questions. At the same time, it is believed that the selected data source is appropriate to the topic since the interviews will reflect the perceptions and attitudes of employees who are leaving the company. In contrast, interviews with people who are just considering switching their jobs might not be valid in explaining the company’s high turnover. Thus, the validity and reliability of the chosen method are appropriate for qualitative research.

Methods

Introduction

A qualitative research method is selected for this study to collect data from participants regarding employee turnover. The interviews with the study participants are organised according to random sampling from Company X. Informed consent forms are sent to all the employees with the aim and expected outcomes of the study. The thematic analysis of interviews is conducted by means of structuring and finding common tendencies, oppositions and gaps.

The structure of the methods section:

  • Research Design
  • Sample
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Validity / Reliability Considerations

Analysis and Results

Overview

In line with the identified methodology, interviews with six past members of staff were conducted in order to answer the research questions. Each interview was structured with a single list of items to be delivered to participants and specific prompts to be used to help them in their answers.

The participants varied in terms of their demographics and reasons for leaving the company. Participant 1 was a 34-year-old married male with two children who had served in the company for five years. He started working as a front-desk associated and got promoted to a supervisor two years later. Participant 2 was a single 28-year-old woman who worked in Company X for a total of three years as a Guest Service Associate.

Participant 3 was a single male aged 32 who worked in Company X for three years, serving the entire period as a restaurant manager. Participant 4 was a married male aged 38 with two children. He worked as a Pastry Chef for just under six years. Participant 5 was a married woman aged 26 who worked in Company X as a receptionist for two years.

Lastly, Participant 6 was a 43-year-old woman, married, and with one child. She has been working in housekeeping her whole life and stayed in Company X for twelve years. On the whole, the interviews provided insights that were essential to answering each of the research questions posed for the study. Other sections of this chapter will explain the results gathered for each participant.

Drivers of Employee Turnover

Drivers of employee turnover in Company X were evaluated mainly on the basis of Question 10, “What factors, events or people influenced your decision to leave?”. The participants were asked to list these factors, starting with the most influential one. In the vast majority of their answers, turnover decisions were influenced by organisational factors that were perceived by the participants as unfavourable. The low salary was listed by several of the participants, and others also noted the lack of opportunities for promotion.

For example, Participant 1 noted “I also needed a higher salary”, whereas Participant 2 stated that he left due to “Low salary, no further promotion, complex working atmosphere”. Furthermore, some of the participants noted the presence of alternative employment opportunities that have influenced their decision to leave. Participant 3 shared, “I got an offer from an international hospitality company. They offered a higher salary”, meaning that both alternative employment and salary played a role in his decision.

Other driers besides salary, promotional opportunities, and alternative employment offers were also listed by some participants. For instance, one participant cited personal reasons for her decision to leave the company, and two others noted interpersonal relationships with peers and managers to be significant factors in their choice. Participant 5 stated “Interpersonal relationships played a central role”, whereas Participant 6 said that she “found it hard to work under such circumstances due to the position of top management”.

These themes were also reflected in some other responses. For example, Participant 1 noted the lack of team spirit as a critical factor in his decision to leave. Similarly, Participant 3 believed that the management in their new workplace would be more open to changes and suggestions and mentioned it as one of the reasons for their turnover decision.

On the whole, responses to Question 10 allowed gathering sufficient data to identify the key drivers of turnover in Company X. Based on the participants’ responses, these include low salaries, limited opportunities for promotion, poor interpersonal or team relations, alternative employment opportunities, and personal reasons. While the latter cause of turnover does not depend on the company, the other factors could be addressed in order to prevent high turnover in the future and encourage employees who are considering leaving the company to stay.

Turnover and Herzberg’s Two Factors

The second question that the study sought to answer in the context of Company X was “How do these drivers reflect the relationship between voluntary turnover and employee job satisfaction by Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory?”. In order to answer this question, it was essential to highlight evidence of motivator and hygiene factors or lack thereof in the participants’ responses. Motivator factors, by Herzberg’s theory, include achievement and recognition, exciting work, responsibility, advancement, and growth (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018).

Hygiene factors, on the other hand, include salary, organisational policies, work conditions, relationships, job security, supervision, and remuneration (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018). Based on the analysis of employee turnover drivers in Company X, there is evidence that these factors were lacking, leading to low job satisfaction and high job dissatisfaction among employees.

With respect to hygiene factors, salary, organisational policies, work conditions, and supervision were all identified by participants as things that could be improved in Company X. As explained above, the salary was a significant factor prompting many of employees to quit. However, the unwillingness of the management to implement changes was also cited by some participants.

Furthermore, one participant noted that their supervisor was too demanding, prompting conflicts and affecting the work environment in general. In terms of work conditions, some of the participants reported the challenging nature of the work, but none referred to it as their reason for quitting. Hence, it is likely that this was not a prominent gap in Company X. Finally, interpersonal relationships proved to be necessary to some of the respondents, suggesting limitations in this area.

For Participant 1, poor relationships with co-workers and the lack of team spirit were the primary factor preceding his turnover decision. The answers of Participant 2 agreed with this result since he noted that “atmosphere at the workplace had to be much better” and that he had some minor conflicts with co-workers. Disputes with the supervisor were also referred to by Participant 5, who cited them as critical to her turnover decision.

With respect to motivator factors, the results also suggest that there are some problems. For example, responsibility seemed to be an essential issue for at least two of the participants. Participant 3 noted that he offered multiple suggestions for improving the work of the restaurant but was not allowed to implement any of them. As a result, he left his position in Company X for an organisation that he felt would be more open to changes.

Similarly, Participant 5 shared her negative experiences with the supervisor, noting that they were too demanding while also limiting her scope of responsibility: “I felt I could do more”. This problem was among the main reasons that made her quit Company X and search for alternative employment. Advancement and growth also seemed to be an issue for most of the workers due to their experiences with promotional opportunities.

Participant 2 noted that the lack of promotion was the second most influential reason for his decision to leave. Participant 6 also shared “we had more responsibilities with limited opportunities. I had to persuade top management that our staff needed training.” This suggests that the company does not invest in its workers’ growth, which leads to their low job satisfaction as per the Two-Factor theory.

In general, the results of the analysis suggest that there is a link between low job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction, as represented in Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory and turnover. On the one hand, the lack of hygiene factors was evident in most of the interviews, particularly with respect to relationships, salary, supervision, and company policies. These gaps made employees feel increasingly dissatisfied and ultimately contributed to their turnover decisions.

On the other hand, there were also critical gaps in motivator factors, such as responsibility, advancement, and growth. Specifically, employees were not given enough responsibility, promotional opportunities, and training that could enhance their roles in the company. The lack of motivator factors was crucial to many employees since it decreased their level of job satisfaction and prompted them to leave Company X.

Retention Strategies

The third research question that the study focused on was “What retention strategies should the organisation apply to reduce turnover?”. Although providing recommendations requires relying on evidence-based strategies, understanding the changes that could have made the participants stay in the company was deemed necessary to offer practical solutions. As part of their interviews, each of the participants provided some insight into desirable changes that would have influenced their decision to leave, thus highlighting potential options that should be considered for retention efforts.

Firstly, some respondents noted that they would be persuaded to stay if given a higher salary or a promotion. For instance, while answering the question “What offers on the part of the human resources department or top management could have made you stay in the company?”, he responded: “A higher salary and my involvement in the development of a better culture. Perhaps, it could be some kind of promotion”. A similar answer was given by Participant 2: “I’d have stayed if they’d offered a higher post or a higher salary”.

Two of the participants replied that they would not consider staying in the company even if their position or salary improved. The final two participants also mentioned promotion and organisational changes, including “going back to the culture we had previously” and switching to a new supervisor. These results suggest some crucial directions that the company should consider in improving its retention rates.

Discussion and Limitations

Drivers of Employee Turnover

Based on the results of the study, it can be said that many of the drivers of turnover revealed during interviews were also found in other research studies. First of all, it should be noted that the factors identified by employees as drivers of turnover could be separated into three core categories: individual, organisational or work-related. These groups of factors are typically referred two and studied in scholarly research on turnover (Hongvichit, 2015; Lee et al., 2017; Katsikea, Theodosiou and Morgan, 2015; Zhang, 2016).

Specifically, the most critical factor that related to the organisation was the absence of opportunities for growth and professional development. Scholars including Kalidass and Bahron (2015), Kim et al. (2017), Mathieu and Babiak (2016), Pang, Kucukusta and Chan (2015) and Zhang (2016) all referred to promotional opportunities and employee development in their research on turnover, confirming the importance of this driver to employee’s decisions to quit.

Additionally, the results highlighted issues related to supervision and leadership, which were also considered by other scholars to be the antecedents of turnover (Kim et al., 2017; Mathieu and Babiak, 2016; Zhang, 2016).

Finally, an essential driver of turnover identified in the study that matched previous research results was gaps in the organisational environment, evident through interpersonal relationships. Employees who reported having conflicts or issues with their team members or supervisors maintained that these factors played a significant role in their turnover decisions.

This finding fits in with the conclusions reached by other scholars who focused on the organisational environment and its impact on turnover levels (Brown, Thomas and Boselman, 2015; Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018; Qiu et al., 2014; Santhanam et al., 2017; Vardaman et al., 2015). Therefore, the study confirmed the situation in Company X to be typical for a company struggling with high turnover, and the factors that impacted employees’ decision-making were not specific to this organisation.

Turnover and Job Satisfaction

By linking employees’ experiences to factors listed in Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene theory, the research also highlighted the relationship between turnover and job satisfaction. The factors that employees listed as influential in their decision-making process were related to organisational gaps and drawbacks that resulted either in dissatisfaction or in low job satisfaction as per Herzberg’s theory (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018). The evident link between these factors and employee turnover decisions allows linking this study to previous research on the topic of turnover.

For instance, multiple scholars have suggested that job satisfaction has a negative correlation with turnover, noting that high job satisfaction can reduce turnover intentions and vice versa (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Aruna and Anitha, 2015; Ekhsan, 2019; Deery and Jago, 2015; Frederiksen, 2017; Rubel and Kee, 2015). The opportunity to connect the results of this study to previous research into this relationship also contributes to the understanding of the situation in Company X.

With respect to job dissatisfaction, only one recent article considered this factor and its influence on turnover in the hospitality industry. Holston-Okae and Mushi (2018) found that the application of Herzberg’s theory helps to identify not only the factors decreasing satisfaction but also those that make employees in this industry increasingly unhappy and willing to quit, such as poor working conditions or low salary (Nica, 2016).

The results of the present study suggest that the absence of hygiene factors was more influential in employees’ decision-making than the lack of motivator factors in the workplace. In the future, this distinction could be studied further both in the context of the hospitality industry and in other settings.

Retention Strategies

As evident from the previous chapter, the strategies that employees noted as potential solutions to their problems essentially required the organisation to address the issues that caused their turnover intentions in the first place. For instance, participants who listed low salary or the lack of promotion as the factors prompting them to quit could have been persuaded to stay if offered a higher post and pay. These results are also in line with previous research on the topic of retention.

Multiple scholars have noted that, in order to support retention, organisations must develop HR policies and practices that target the gaps contributing to turnover (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Cloutier et al., 2015; Deery and Jago, 2015; Naim and Lenka, 2018; Korsakienė et al., 2015; Schlechter, Syce and Bussin, 2016). These findings should be taken into account while devising recommendations for Company X.

Based on studies on the antecedents of employee turnover, scholars have put forward various strategies that organisations could implement in order to promote retention. Because organisational factors play a crucial role in increasing turnover, most interventions focus on enhancing organisations’ HRM practices and filling the gaps in other related workforce characteristics, such as commitment, organisational support, growth and learning opportunities, and more (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Cloutier et al., 2015; Deery and Jago, 2015; Naim and Lenka, 2018; Korsakienė et al., 2015; Schlechter, Syce and Bussin, 2016).

Many of these strategies are effective at addressing high employee turnover in practice since they target the root causes of the issue, thus improving the overall workforce characteristics. By gathering information on the effectiveness of retention strategies, it is possible to provide recommendations for organisations and improve their relationships with employees. In turn, companies would receive the opportunity to better understand their staff, paying attention to the factors that are of value for them.

Limitations

Although the research has managed to produce important insights into the issues experienced by Company X, it had some limitations that affect the ways in which it can be applied and used. The main limitation of the work is that it had a limited sample size. Smaller sample sizes are generally acceptable and even encouraged in qualitative research. However, the fact that all participants left the company within the past few months could have affected the results.

If more participants were recruited, including those who had left earlier this year or in 2019, this would have allowed studying how turnover drivers changed or worsened over a period of time, thus offering more insight into the current situation. At the same time, the study focused on a single company in the hospitality section, meaning that the results could have been influenced by factors specific to this industry (Iverson and Deery, 1997). The type of work and positions offered in the company could have influenced employees’ perceptions, which does not allow extending the results to other industries.

Finally, another limitation was the research instrument. Structured interviews were used in order to ensure that the answers of participants were not prompted by specific words or phrases used by the interviewer. Nevertheless, the use of structured interviews offered fewer opportunities for participants to express their thoughts in detail. Thus, it is unclear whether the level of depth achieved through the selected interview instrument was sufficient to explore the suggested topics in their entirety. Further studies could address this limitation by using longer, unstructured interviews and encouraging participants to go into as much detail as they see fit.

Conclusions

The project fulfilled the goal of examining and developing solutions for the problem of high employee turnover in Company X. The literature review helped to explore the topic of employee turnover from multiple perspectives by explaining the factors that cause it and discussing research on potential retention strategies. The data collected and analysed as part of the project were instrumental to fulfilling its goals because they allowed investigating employees’ perspectives on turnover, their main reasons for quitting the company, and the factors that could have influenced their decision.

The outcomes of data analysis relate the study to other research on the topic. The results show that employee turnover drivers observed in Company X match those highlighted in other research contexts. Organisational support and the possibility of growth and career development had a significant impact on the rate of turnover in the company, which reflects previous research findings (Kalidass and Bahron, 2015; Mathieu and Babiak, 2016; Zhang, 2016).

Leadership, organisational, and supervisor justice were also found to influence employees’ exit decisions (Kim et al., 2017; Puni, Agyemang and Asamoah, 2016). In line with other research on the topic, job satisfaction was a factor influencing employee turnover in the company (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Rubel and Kee, 2015).

Hence, the results related to turnover drivers match similar scholarly evidence. With reference to job satisfaction, the results of the data analysis also suggested compliance with Herzberg’s Two-Factor Model, which correlates job satisfaction with the organisational environment (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018). In Company X, the same factors were associated with turnover, which allows concluding that the model can be applied to evaluating and reducing employee turnover.

An important aspect of the study was exploring whether a change in the working conditions or the organisational environment could have encouraged the participants to stay. Interestingly, participants who were dissatisfied with some aspects of their job, such as the pay, management, working hours or growth prospects, answered that addressing their concerns could have made them stay. This finding is vital in developing retention strategies that could assist in reducing employee turnover in Company X.

It also agrees with past works on employee retention, which highlight the importance of filling in the gaps causing employee turnover (Al Mamun and Hasan, 2017; Cloutier et al., 2015; Deery and Jago, 2015; Naim and Lenka, 2018). Thus, the findings show the need to re-evaluate organisational policies and practices and implement change that would have a beneficial impact on employees.

The implications of these conclusions for the company’s management are substantial. First of all, the outcomes suggest that the reason for high employee turnover lies within the organisation. Most of the former employees noted at least one aspect of the job that was unsatisfactory to them, and that contributed to their decision to quit.

Hospitality companies generally have higher turnover rates than businesses operating in other industries, but the presence of organisational issues influencing turnover shows that the situation can and should be improved. Failing to address the issues mentioned by former employees could lead to further increases in turnover rates, thus causing the growth of HR expenses, understaffing, and operational concerns.

Secondly, an important implication for the study is that it identifies the factors that had the most influence on former employees’ turnover. This offers an opportunity for the management to address the problem using specific, targeted solutions. As a result, reducing turnover would require smaller investments of finances, time and efforts. Instead of implementing organisation-wide programs for retaining employees or leaving the situation in its current condition, the management could review the data and select specific factors to be addressed as part of the company’s retention strategy.

Finally, the work has significant implications for management because it offers a new perspective on the problem of retention by showing its relationship with Herzberg’s Two-Factor Model. The model describes a list of factors that can cause job satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and it can be applied to assess the organisational environment for flaws (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018). Using this approach, the company’s management could develop mechanisms for regular evaluation that would help to anticipate and prevent problems, including high turnover among staff.

Evidence-Based and Costed Recommendation for the Workplace

Based on the outcomes of the research, there are three core recommendations that would help the company in reducing turnover and creating a better organisational environment for its staff. The first recommendation is to improve the training of managers to facilitate better human resource management practices. As evident from the analysis, some employees complained that the managers were too strict and demanding or engaged in open conflicts with them.

This damages the organisational environment, leading to low job satisfaction and poor retention. According to research, transformational leadership is particularly helpful in lowering turnover and enhancing other organisational outcomes (Amankwaa and Anku-Tsede, 2015; Sun and Wang, 2016). Offering training in transformational leadership could thus assist managers in developing better attitudes toward workers and improve leadership practice within the company.

The implementation and monitoring plan for this recommendation is as follows:

  1. Find local training programs focusing on transformational leadership (one week);
  2. Deliver training to managers (two months);
  3. Conduct quarterly surveys on staff’s attitudes to managers to monitor progress (continuous).

The cost of implementing this recommendation includes training and working hours required for preparation, training delivery, and evaluation. If assumed that the pay level in the company is average, the cost of training is £1200 per person, and the length of training is 16 hours, the total budget of the training would be about £15,000 for ten managers. The annual expense flow would include an initial payment of £12,350 (training and preparation), followed by four quarterly payments of £525.

The contingency for this recommendation would be approximately 25% because the cost of training varies across the United Kingdom and other countries where Company X has branches. Costs that cannot be accurately quantified include possible performance losses if managers are absent from their shifts during training, but these can be mitigated if the training is conducted on two or three separate days.

The second recommendation is to apply Herzberg’s Two-Factor model in order to develop an organisational assessment instrument and use it for regular evaluations. Research suggests that the model provides an excellent framework for analysing the organisational environment for factors that could trigger job satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Andersson, 2017; Dartey-Baah and Amoako, 2011).

Since the characteristics included in the model were also reflected in employee’s exit interviews, evaluating and addressing gaps using it would help to reduce turnover and promote retention, as well as motivation and positive job attitudes (Holston-Okae and Mushi, 2018). The implementation plan would be as follows:

  1. Identify a survey instrument based on Herzberg’s Two-Factor model (one week);
  2. Create an online survey and deliver the link to staff members (one week);
  3. Collect and analyse the responses (two weeks);
  4. Produce a short report describing the key outcomes (one week);
  5. Repeat the process every two months for continuous improvement (continuous).

A separate monitoring plan is not required because the outcomes can be tracked based on the data collected. To calculate approximate costs of implementing this recommendation, it is assumed that the managers’ hourly rate is £35 and that employees will be able to complete surveys without productivity losses. In this way, the only costs associated with this recommendation result from the hours spent by managers on preparation, data collection, analysis and evaluation.

It is expected that, per one evaluation, these processes will take approximately 20 hours. If evaluations are conducted every two months, the annual budget would be £4200. The expense flow will include $700 paid every two months. The contingency for this plan is about 30% since it is not possible to determine how many hours the entire process will take each time.

Costs that cannot be quantified might include increased stress of the managers tasked with data collection and evaluation. To avoid thee costs, it would be necessary to assign this task to managers who are familiar with research and quantitative data analysis and moderate their workload during assessment periods to allow extra time for performing the evaluation.

Implementing both of these recommendations would have a positive impact on the organisation and its retention rates, in particular. On the one hand, improving human resource management practices will prevent the staff’s dissatisfaction with managers and improve perceptions of organisational justice and support, which were found to be related to employee turnover in Company X. On the other hand, by designing and applying regular assessments, the management would be able to identify other prevalent issues and address them before they impact retention, productivity, motivation or other critical workforce characteristics.

Personal Learning Statement

On the whole, working on a live business issue was an excellent opportunity for me to engage in business research and explore how problems in human resource management are assessed and addressed in a real-life context. While conducting the project, I learned more about the importance of using evidence to resolve management issues, as it was crucial to understanding the researched problem in Company X. Following the completion of the study, I realised the need to learn more about various strategies for addressing turnover in organisations since it appears to be an essential problem for modern businesses.

The process of the study was smooth, and there were no significant issues that affected data collection or analysis. Still, preparing this report was helpful for me to understand how research is conducted in organisations. Using a qualitative methodology was particularly crucial in this case because it helped me to learn more about employees’ perspectives of the organisation and the problems that affect their career decisions. The findings highlighted important differences between people in terms of their attitudes to work, leadership, team building, and other factors influencing the organisational environment.

Analysing the situation from different perspectives and using previous scholarly research helped me to develop recommendations that could help the business to address the problem of high turnover among employees in a cost-efficient way. In the future, I believe that it would be exciting for me to perform quantitative or mixed-methods research since the data generated through these methodologies allows looking at the problem from a different angle.

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Appendix

Interview Transcripts

Interview Questions

  • Question 1. How long did you work for the organization? What factors made you accept the job? Prompt: salary, promotional opportunities, self-development, prestige, benefits, and so on.
  • Question 2. What post or posts did you occupy, and what roles did you take up during your employment at Company X?
  • Question 3. What kind of work experience had you had before you started working for the organization?
  • Question 4. What were your expectations regarding the job, your performance, and job satisfaction when you started working for Company X?
  • Question 5. To what extent did your working experience match these expectations? What could be the reasons for this? Prompt: organizational factors, interpersonal relationships, personal factors.
  • Question 6. What did you like about working for this company? What do you think could be improved?
  • Questions 7. To what extent were you satisfied with the responsibilities you had? Please explain in detail.
  • Question 8. How satisfied were you with the relationships with your peers?
  • Question 9. To what extent were you satisfied with your supervisor and top management?
  • Question 10. What factors, events, or people influenced your decision to leave? Please rate these factors, starting with the most influential one.
  • Question 11. What would make you consider staying in the company?
  • Question 12. What offers on the part of the human resources department or top management could have made you stay in the company?

Participant 1

Demographic data: male, aged 34, married, two children

  1. Five years. I accepted the job as I wanted to work for a company with history and strong culture, so it seemed.
  2. I was a front-desk supervisor for the whole period.
  3. I worked as a front-desk associate for two years and got promoted to a front-desk supervisor. I changed two hotels during that period.
  4. Oh, I thought I would be completely satisfied with the job as it seemed to be my dream job. This one did not happen, though. As to my performance, I believe I was a high-performer, and I managed all the tasks properly and timely.
  5. I guess I had too high expectations and supposed that the company had a really strong culture, you know. But I saw that it was quite a mess. No, there was some culture, and I liked the way employees were treated and trained. But there was no proper atmosphere.
  6. The overall system was fine, and you could tell what to do in different situations, but there was no, you know, that kind of commitment on the part of the employees. They need to create a team while they have just staff.
  7. The working environment was rather challenging, but I was completely satisfied with the responsibilities I had as this is what the hospitality industry is.
  8. We all hardly communicated beyond our responsibilities and tasks, which was beyond my understanding. I want to be a part of a team, not a robot in an assembly line.
  9. Completely satisfied. They were trying to set a good culture.
  10. No team spirit, poor communication, no commitment, and, yes, I also needed a higher salary.
  11. A higher salary and my involvement in the development of a better culture. Perhaps, it could be some kind of promotion.
  12. A higher salary and promotion.

Participant 2

Demographic data: female, aged 28, single

  1. I worked there for three years. This is a well-known company, and they offered a good salary and benefits.
  2. I worked as a Guest Services Associate, and, in a year, I was promoted to Guest Services Manager.
  3. I worked in a small hotel for several summer months.
  4. I didn’t have any definite expectations as had little experience, but, of course, I was committed to working hard.
  5. I was performing well, and my achievements were recognized. I grew professionally as the company provided good training and development options for us.
  6. Perhaps, that part was something I liked about the company. I mean, I learned a lot and became a true professional. There are many things I would improve, such as performance evaluation, staff promotion, and rewards.
  7. I was satisfied with the work I did. I had the necessary skills to work with people and manage my time effectively. I did everything a guest services manager does, so, yes, I was satisfied.
  8. I think this is one of the negative sides of my working experience. I thought the atmosphere at the workplace had to be much better. I even had some minor conflicts with some of my peers.
  9. My supervisor and top managers of the company were professionals, so I was satisfied with our management.
  10. Low salary, no further promotion, complex working atmosphere.
  11. A higher salary or promotion.
  12. I’d have stayed if they’d offered a higher post or a higher salary.

Participant 3

Demographic data: male, aged 32, single

  1. Three years. It’s a good company with a good reputation. They offered a good salary, which was another important factor.
  2. I was a restaurant manager. No other posts.
  3. I worked as a waiter during my holidays when I was a student. My first job was also a waiter at a good hospitality company, and I became a restaurant supervisor and manager in approximately two years. A year and a half, maybe.
  4. I thought I would get a good working experience, and I was ready to go out of my way, really. I had many ideas and expected to bring many of them to life. Since it is a big hospitality company, I thought I would be satisfied with the whole staff.
  5. First, everything was fine, but then I realized it would be hard to bring the changes I saw as necessary. I think those were organizational issues to a larger extent.
  6. It’s hard to single something out. I just liked working there. Everything was fine except for the management’s and people’s reluctance to change. I think they should become more flexible. Monetary policies could also be improved.
  7. Everything was satisfactory or even great. However, I wanted to be able to change some aspects of the culture and the whole system.
  8. I had normal relationships with peers and my subordinates. I am a good manager, so there were no problems with that.
  9. My dissatisfaction was growing as they didn’t let me realize some of my projects, which would lead to significant improvements soon.
  10. Little opportunity for self-realization, and low salary.
  11. I got an offer from an international hospitality company. They offered a higher salary, and they seem to be more open to changes. So, I think I would not consider staying in Company X.
  12. They couldn’t offer anything to make me stay.

Participant 4

Demographic data: male, aged 38, married, two children

  1. I worked there for around six years. A good salary and a good reputation. I mean it’s Company X, you know.
  2. I worked as the Pastry Chef.
  3. I worked as a cook, a chef, and pastry chef in several restaurants, and a hotel.
  4. I thought the job would be demanding but rewarding as well. I was ready to do my best to make our hotel famous for its pastry delights.
  5. I think everything was just the way I’d expected. Of course, there were some things and issues, but all companies are different and you just need to get used to some peculiarities. Overall, I was satisfied with organizational factors and interpersonal relationships.
  6. I had all I needed, and my team was excellent. Of course, there is always something to be improved, but it’s all about ongoing development and innovation.
  7. I was totally satisfied with everything. I came up with ideas and novelties, and our team just gave it a try.
  8. My team was great! I can’t say I had similar relationships with people from other departments. We had some issues, but, you know, it’s something happening all the time.
  9. The company’s top management paid a lot of attention to our department as our priorities are good food, good service, perfect stay.
  10. I had some personal factors that made me leave.
  11. Nothing could make me stay as my family circumstances changed a lot.
  12. They could offer nothing, really, to my deep regret, really.

Participant 5

Demographic data: female, aged 26, married

  1. I accepted the job over two years ago because it seemed a good continuation of my career. I knew I would learn a lot about the industry as the company pays much attention to staff training and development. I had some insights as I knew a person who worked for the company.
  2. I was a hotel receptionist. No other posts or responsibilities.
  3. I worked as a receptionist at a smaller hotel.
  4. I was ready to try my best to fit in. I expected to learn and self-develop. I thought I would be satisfied with my job. I was also expecting some kind of promotion.
  5. Everything but promotional opportunities matched my expectations. I believe organizational policies and the overall culture was not properly developed and limited promotional opportunities for the staff were available.
  6. I liked the job as this is what I want to do in my life. I also liked the training I received. It was a valuable experience. However, staff management needs considerable improvements. I think they need to change the entire organizational culture, especially when it comes to people’s promotion.
  7. I was rather satisfied, but I felt I could do more. Also, in some periods, I had some misunderstanding with my supervisor, so my motivation reduced considerably.
  8. I had professional relationships with everyone.
  9. My supervisor was too demanding and was not an effective leader. I think he is responsible for low motivation among employees.
  10. I think there were at least several factors. Interpersonal relationships played a central role, but I think salaries could also be higher.
  11. Promotion to another post, as well as a new supervisor, and a larger salary could have made me change my mind.
  12. As I said, promotion and a higher salary could have made me stay.

Participant 6

Demographic data: female, aged 43, married, one child

  1. Twelve years. I looked for a job, and they offered a good salary.
  2. I started working as a maid and gradually got promoted to a Housekeeping supervisor and then Manager.
  3. I’ve been in housekeeping for my whole professional life.
  4. I expected to have steady work and enough money for a leaving. I knew the job would be hard, but I was ready for that.
  5. I received what I expected, but I was not expecting to get such a wonderful working environment during the first years. I worked hard, and I was promoted, which made me even more motivated. We tried to create a good atmosphere for our employees. Now, things are different as that focus on people vanished.
  6. Apart from the relationships and my own responsibilities, I was satisfied with the salary I had. But, during three past years or so, everything changed somehow. Our salaries did not grow like they used to, and we had more responsibilities with limited opportunities. I had to persuade top management that our staff needed training, and we needed some improvement and innovations.
  7. I was completely satisfied with my responsibilities, and we managed to keep everything clean and cosy.
  8. I had good relationships with subordinates and peers.
  9. Our top management was inflexible and disinterested in people.
  10. I found it hard to work under such circumstances due to the position of top management.
  11. Going back to the culture we had previously would have made me stay.
  12. An opportunity to change some aspects of our work and bring innovations would have made me stay.