Retaining Motivated And Highly Skilled Employees Management Essay

Introduction

Retaining motivated and highly skilled employees has become more and more important for organizations due to high costs of recruitment and selection, productivity loss during the adjustment period and poor customer relationship among other factors (Chew & Chan, 2007). Organizations value employees that with their individual performance bring organizational effectiveness and consider them as a critical source of competitive advantage. In order to retain valuable employees, many organizations have started to move towards creating a positive climate at the work place, offering different types of career development possibilities, and providing employees more demanding assignments. (Tansky & Cohen, 2001.) By offering possibilities for development, organizations may expect certain attitudes such as job involvement and organizational commitment from the employees in return. (Fiorito, Bozeman, Young & Meurs, 2007.)

Job involvement can be defined as “the degree to which an employee identifies with his job, actively participates in it, and considers his job performance important to his self-worth” (Blau, 1985, 19-36). Career development can be divided into organizational career development and career self-management. Organizational career development is provided “through opportunities that advance employees’ future career prospects”. (Babmacas & Bordia, 2009, 220-240.) This paper will concentrate on organizational career development.

Many studies have been conducted on the relationship between career development and organizational commitment which is influenced by job involvement. The direct relationship between career development and job involvement is not so clear. Therefore, it seems relevant to formulate the following research question:

To what extent do employees who find organizational career development possibilities in their work differ from employees who do not find organizational career development possibilities in their work regarding job involvement?

The aim of this study is to make a contribution to better understand the effect of offering employees career development possibilities and how it relates to job involvement. Empirical studies have suggested that career development is linked to job involvement leading to organizational commitment. This study will test the assumptions introduced in a Finnish organization. To define the linkage between these two variables is important for the organization in order to better understand its employees and to be able to hold on to them.

This paper will proceed with the theoretical framework followed by methodology used and the study results. Conclusion and further discussion will end the paper with references and appendices found last. The theoretical framework explains the concepts of job involvement and organizational career development and the relationship between these two variables.

Theoretical framework

Job involvement

Kanungo (1982) defines job involvement as “psychological identification with a job”. In other words, when an employee finds his or her job as a crucial part of one’s self concept and that the job defines his or hers self concept in a major way, the employee is job-involved. (Kanungo, 1982, 82: Lawler & Hall, 1970, 311.) “It reflects the extent to which individuals are preoccupied by an immersed in their present jobs” (Paullay, Alliger & Stone-Romero, 1994, 224-228). Job involvement is linked to job satisfaction and organizational commitment and so to personnel turnover as high levels of job involvement might prevent one’s withdrawal from the job. According to Pfeffer, (1994), many researchers consider job involvement as a primary determinant of organizational effectiveness whilst according to Hall and Lawler (1970) it is also being considered for individual motivation.

Job involvement includes identifying with the job, participating actively in it and recognizing job performance as an important factor for self concept. (Blau 1985) Job satisfaction refers to the general attitude of an employee towards the job or a specific dimension of it whilst “organizational commitment refers to the identification with and loyalty to the organization and its goals” (Blau & Boal, 1987, 288-300). If a person is satisfied with one’s job, he or she is more likely to be more involved in the job and be more committed to the organization whereas job dissatisfaction has a reverse impact.

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Organizational career development

According to King, Xia, Quick and Sethi (2005) organizational career development can be defined as the opportunities provided by the organization to advance an individual’s career prospects. Organizations are able to assist their employees in various ways such as giving employees more challenging assignments, offer career counseling and training as well as give them access to information about the organization and industry. These activities are beneficial for both the organization itself as well as the employee. (King, Xia, Quick & Sethi, 2005; Leung, 2002; Gubbins & Garavan, 2005, in Babmacas & Bordia, 2009.)

Relationship between organizational career development and job involvement.

Social exchange theory helps us to understand relationships between for example individuals, their relationships in organizations and job satisfaction. The central principle of the theory is that the exchange of social and material resources is a primary form of interaction between humans. According to the social exchange theory, individuals weigh the potential risks and benefits of social relationships and when more risk occurs they are more likely to end or discard that relationship. (Eisenberger, Huntington & Sowa, in Eisenberger, Cummings, Armeli & Lynch, 1997.)

Little research was available on direct relationship between organizational career development and job involvement. As job involvement is closely linked to job satisfaction and organizational commitment, the relationship between these two variables is discussed in a broader sense.

Studies suggest that career development opportunities have a positive impact on employees’ levels of job satisfaction and commitment to the employing organization. (Bashir & Ramay, 2008.) There is evidence that by offering previously mentioned activities such as training, possibilities to developing skills and competencies, career development, growth opportunities and more challenging tasks, organizations can gain high levels of job involvement and employees’ commitment towards the organization. (Paul & Anantharaman, 2003 in Babmacas & Bordia, 2009.)

On the basis of the social exchange theory and studies cited above, the following hypothesis is proposed:

HYPOTHESIS 1. Organizational career development possibilities have a positive effect on job involvement.

Method

Population and sample

This research examined hr/recruitment consultants. Respondents were from a Finnish recruitment agency Barona Ltd, in the departments of Office and IT in two sites. Barona is one of Finland’s largest human resources companies with the goal of becoming the largest one in the country. Office and IT departments are the largest departments of the organization and in both cities are located in same office space.

The respondents were made up of 10% male respondents and 90% female respondents with ages ranging between 23 and 53 years, average age being 33 years. All respondents had acquired a higher educational level, 80% of them having a master’s degree. The information can be found in more detail in table 1.

Table 1: Demographic characteristics of sample

Control variables

High career possibilities

Low career possibilities

Both groups

Average age (yr.)

35

31

33

Man

0%

20%

10%

Woman

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100%

80%

90%

Bachelor degree

60%

0%

20%

Master degree

40%

100%

80%

Procedure

The Office and IT branch manager of the host organization was contacted and asked whether they would be interested in participating in a study of the linkage between career possibilities and involvement. As the response was positive a questionnaire was conducted and sent to the branch manager who then distributed the questionnaires to the employees. Anonymity was guaranteed to the respondents in attached cover letter. Questionnaires were collected in a pigeon hole and then sent back to the researcher.

.

Measurement

The following variables were measured in the questionnaire:

Career possibilities – was measured by using a four item scale adapted from the questionnaire on the experience and assessment of work (van Veldhoven & Meijman, 2008). Sample items include, “Does your job offer you the possibility to progress financially?”. All items on career possibilities were standardized using a five point scale ranging from never to always.

Involvement – was measured by an eight item scale also from the questionnaire on the experience and assessment of work (van Veldhoven & Meijman, 2008). An example statement was: “It would take very little negative change to make me leave”. The answer scale provides five possibilities from completely disagree to completely agree.

Control variables – variables such as amount of working hours as well as demographic variables such as gender and education were taken into account in the study in order to collect background information. However, these were not be used in the statistical analysis.

Analysis

A t-test was performed in order to test hypothesis 1.

Results

In order to divide the respondents into two groups, a rank order was created using the independent variable (career development possibilities). Group one (1) represents the respondents who found high career development, whereas group two (2) represents the respondents who found low career development possibilities. The mean score and standard deviation for the dependent variable (involvement) was calculated for both groups. Respondents for Group 1 (M = 2.85, SD = .52) on average seemed to have more organizational involvement than Group 2 (M = 2.10, SD = .34). Table 2 below illustrates descriptive statistics for the constructs measured in this study, including means and standard deviation.

Table 2: Means and standard deviation

 

Involvement

 

Mean

SD

N

Group 1: high CDP

2.85

0.52

5

Group 2: low CDP

2.10

0.34

5

Hypothesis 1 states that the more career development possibilities an employee finds, the more involvement (s)he shows. A t-test was performed to determine whether the means were statistically different. The t-test did find statistical significance (t (8) = 2.68 for α = 0.05). There was enough evidence to support hypothesis 1, therefore it will not be rejected but accepted.

Conclusion and Discussion

The aim of this research was to identify the effect of organizational career development possibilities on job involvement. The study was made on one of the biggest Finnish companies in their industry, staffing and recruitment. In order to establish anonymity, a paper format of a questionnaire was used. Hypothesis 1 states that organizational career development possibilities have a positive effect on an employees’ involvement. The study supports this hypothesis and therefore hypothesis 1 was confirmed.

The organizational culture in Finland is generally very open to all management levels in the means of a very informal and more family like atmosphere. This research was accepted by the branch manager of the host organization who also encouraged employees to answer the questionnaire. This might have affected the study results of this research as the respondents seemed to have answered the questions established according to their true feelings instead of being pressured or influenced by the manager. As the respondents were divided into two groups, it was noticeable that the difference between the lowest and highest score was fairly high but otherwise the results were fairly even. As hypothesis 1 was accepted, it was logical that the respondent with the highest score on career development possibilities also had the highest score on involvement and vice versa. Most of the respondents who had a high score on career development had a high score on involvement. Few respondents found that there was little development for them but felt fairly involved.

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As the social exchange theory suggests, individuals weigh risks and benefits and conduct their decisions based on the analysis. Based on this statement, the study results can be explained. In case of the few respondents who found little development but felt fairly involved the results might have occurred due to the current recession. Even though there was no visible development ahead the respondents might have felt that it was better to be involved and contribute all to the organization in order to be able to maintain their income.

The sample size of the study was small which might have had an effect to the results of the study. Should there have been a bigger sample the distribution could have been different and provided the study more information. The data was gathered from a single country and a single organization which might have made the study results organization or country specific. The researcher of the study is an ex-employee of the host organization and known among the respondents which might have affected the respondents’ willingness to participate in the study. Current recession might also have caused limitations in means of affecting the answers of the respondents as there is fear of losing a job and income.

In order to be able to make concrete generalizations, the study should be taken further. This research focused on a single company in a single country due to which it would be advisable to take into account other countries and multiple organizations. Recommendable is also to add different business branches and variety of organizational cultures into the study which could bring more versatile results. The topic of this research is very broad and there are fewer studies made on direct relationship between career development and job involvement than for example on job satisfaction and involvement. Due to this, more broad research is suggested.

The results of this study make a contribution to better understand the effects of career development possibilities on the involvement that employees show. The results confirm that personnel who find development possibilities within an organization are more likely to be more involved in the organization. As competition in the business world is high, it is for their own advantage to be able to hold on to their competitive advantage in the means of the personnel. This information is useful for the HR Managers who should take the fact into account when conducting their hr plans and employee career development prospects. Employees should be informed regularly about the situation and development discussions held. In addition, the results make a contribution to career development and job involvement literature as the hypothesis 1 was confirmed.


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