HRM Practices and Employee Retention in Public Sector
It is indeed true that organisations today are at an elevated risk of losing important human resources to other organisations (Yamamoto 2011), and that many have been unable to capitalise on their human assets due to poor employee retention strategies (Fey, Bjorkman, & Pavlovskaya 2000). To deal with these setbacks, research demonstrates that many organisations are introducing bundles of HRM practices to improve employee and firm performance and productivity (Fey et al 2000), increase employee job satisfaction (Shen 2010), and reinforce employee retention (Yamamoto 2013).
The understanding that bundles of HRM practices enhance these outcomes is based on the social exchange theory and norm of reciprocity concepts that imply employees may feel more compelled to reciprocate and become more committed to the organization when employers acknowledge their efforts by providing training and career development opportunities, family-friendly policies, good compensation practices, effective recruitment and selection strategies, good staffing practices and other HR practices (Guchait & Cho 2000; Hutchings et al 2009; Ananthan & Sudheedra 2011).
The present study aims to determine how three such HRM practices (selection and recruitment, rewards and promotion, training and development) contained in Qatar’s HRM policy have influenced employee retention in the public sector by testing the following hypotheses:
- Hypothesis 1 Employees’ perceptions of the selected HRM practices in the HRM policy relate positively with their retention in the public sector.
Available literature demonstrates that a major disadvantage noted in the presentation of HRM practices in bundles is the lack of optimal implementation of some of the practices (Adjibolosoo 2011). Indeed, as noted by Chuang (2013), the problem of unequal implementation of the HRM practices is often noted during the evaluation phase, with results of the evaluation demonstrating critical management and/or funding imbalances during the implementation of the HRM practices as a bundle.
This observation is consistent with the view expounded by Grant, Christianson, and Price (2007, p. 52), that some “managerial practices often result in employee well-being tradeoffs, improving one dimension of employee well-being while undermining another.” In the public sector, the problem of unequal HRM policy implementation is deeply entrenched, as those charged with the responsibility often face funding deficits or make a conscious decision to support some HRM practices while shunning others (Giauque, Anderfuhren-Biget, & Varone 2013), and as many organisations still focus on the functions of compensation and labour law compliance issues to the detriment of other HRM issues such as employee training and development (Chuang 2013).
Such an orientation, according to Kim (2012), often results in negative experiences for employees and adversely affects their retention and satisfaction in the job environment. Drawing from this elaboration, the present study evaluates the general assumption that some components of the 2009 HRM policy were not implemented as originally envisaged (Qatar General Secretariat for Development Planning 2011) by testing the following hypothesis:
- Hypothesis 2: Employees’ perceptions of the effectiveness of training and development practices in the HRM policy relate negatively to their retention in the public sector.
HRM Practices and Employee Retention in Semi-Private Sector
Available literature demonstrates that, during the 1980s and 1990s, many governments in the developed and developing world started to encourage public sector managers to ‘emulate’ or ‘imitate’ some of the HRM practices perceived to have enhanced the productivity and competitiveness in the private sector (Boyne, Jenkins, & Poole 1999). This imitation, according to these authors, “implied the replacement of the traditional methods and ethos of public administration by supposedly superior private sector practice” (p. 407).
In an attempt to encourage public sector agencies to discard their bureaucratic traditions and become more ‘enterprising’ and ‘entrepreneurial’, many governments have encouraged the development of HRM policies that emphasise rewards and performance, training and development, employment participation practices, as well as equal opportunities and employee welfare practices (Boyne et al 1999; Kim 2012; Rana, Goel, & Rastogi 2013).
The Qatari government used this thinking to develop and implement the 2009 HRM policy with the view to regulating public sector employment and ensuring that more employees are retained in the sector through the provision of a range of benefits for Qatari nationals, including preferences in government hiring, opportunities for career advancement, family-friendly work policies, and a variety of allowances, bonuses, leave and severance packages (Council of Ministers Secretariat General 2009; Salt & Higham 2010). However, it is a well-known fact that public sector agencies across the world are often faced with unique challenges that make it increasingly difficult to achieve optimal outcomes from their attempts to ‘imitate’ and implement some of the HRM policies associated with the private sector (Kim 2012; Rana, Goel, & Rastogi 2013).
In other scenarios, it has been noted that the introduction of competitive HRM policies in the public sector has served to attract key talent from other sectors of the economy into the public sector (Kim 2012). In view of these concerns, this study aims to compare how the selected HRM practices (selection and recruitment, rewards and promotion, training and development) have impacted employee retention in Qatar’s semi-private sector by testing the following hypotheses:
- Hypothesis 3: The selected HRM practices have been effective in retaining employees in the semi-private sector due to the proper implementation.
HRM Policy & Job Satisfaction
The 2009 HRM policy has the capacity to influence public sector employees, as available human resource scholarship demonstrates that the behaviour of individuals is to a large extent determined by their observations of and cognitive reactions to their immediate environment and practices (Brown et al 2008; Shen 2010; Mahal 2012). Drawing from this elaboration, Shen (2010, p. 339) posits that, “understanding how employees perceive, and are satisfied with, HRM policies and practices is the key to improving employee job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and employee in-role and extra-role performance.”
A strand of existing literature reports a positive association between the availability of HRM practices and employee satisfaction and productivity (Brown et al 2008), and also between the absence of HRM practices and low employee satisfaction and morale levels (Guchait & Cho 2010; AlZalabani & Modi 2014). Owing to the fact that no comprehensive study has been conducted to evaluate Qatar’s HRM policy and its effect on employee satisfaction in the public sector (General Secretariat for Development and Planning 2011), this particular study aims to provide some illumination on this area by testing the following hypotheses:
- Hypothesis 4: Employees’ perception of the effectiveness of the selected HRM practices (selection and recruitment, rewards and promotion, training and development) in the HRM policy affects their job satisfaction level, which in turn influences their retention in the public sector.
- Hypothesis 5: Employees’ perception of the effectiveness of selected HRM practices (selection and recruitment, rewards and promotion, training and development) affect their job satisfaction level, which in turn influences their retention in the semi-private sector.
List of References
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