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A case of talent management practices in motivating fast food service employees

Gaunette Sinclair-Maragh (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Technology, Jamaica)
Noriel Jacobs-Gray (Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica)
Norene Brown-Roomes (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Technology, Jamaica)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 31 July 2017


Subject area

Food service management, human resource management, hospitality strategic management and, international business and management.

Study level/applicability

Graduate students.

Case overview

The purpose of this case study is to determine whether the practice of talent management serves to motivate fast food service employees. It aims to determine employees’ perceived level of awareness and importance of talent management practices; current practice of talent management within the fast food service sector; and to assess the level of motivation of employees from talent management practices. The survey method employing the use of questionnaires was used to ascertain data from a fast food service establishment in Jamaica, a developing island destination located in the Caribbean region (Sinclair-Maragh and Gursoy, 2015). Jamaica is chosen for the study, as there has been an increase in the number of both local and international fast food entities over the years (Collinder, 2014). The focus on fast food service is important, as they have been providing employment to a significant sector of the population. This type of business operation is classified as a tourism related hospitality area (Purcell, 1996) and as indicated by Christensen and Rog (2008), talent management presents an intriguing opportunity for hospitality organizations to attract employees with requisite skills and experience. The industry is also challenged in maintaining motivated employees (Baum, 2008). Talent management can assist organizations that have long-struggled with high turnover rates and the ability to attract and engage employees that are considered assets and not liabilities. Lockwood (2007) points out that engaged employees are loyal, hardworking and passionate about their work. Motivation theory is used to provide theoretical support for the findings of the study. This is because behavioral theorists such as Abraham Maslow suggested that survival, safety, belonging and self-esteem are factors that can be used to motivate employees and Sigmund Freud believes that people need to be rewarded to get work done (Nohria et al., 2008). This theory is plausible to the study, as it is postulated that talent management can enhance employee engagement, through highly motivated employees (Christensen and Rog, 2008). The study finds that majority of the employees understood the meaning of the term “talent management”. In terms of their personal and professional development, the employees believe that these are highly influenced by the organization’s culture. They pointed out that skills are usually developed through training, cross-training and succession planning. Financial assistance is given for further training and skill development. The performance evaluation process is used to identify employees’ specific skill. Although this is done, the majority has not been placed in other departments that would benefit more from their skills. Only 7.6 per cent reported that this was ever done. Employees’ emotional wellbeing is also important. Although majority of the employees (44.7 per cent) are happy about their work, they indicated that they could be motivated by coaching, mentorship and empowerment initiatives. Overall, the employees’ sense of belonging through their engagement and development, and self-esteem through their morale and competence are important to their motivation levels. They are also motivated when support is provided for training and skill development as explained by the motivation theory.

Expected learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are intended to guide the teaching-learning process and stimulate students’ understanding of the concepts of talent management specific to fast food service employees’ motivation. The case study is a useful resource for graduate students to enable and develop their critical thinking and solution-oriented skills. Students should be able to critically analyze the case and respond to the questions to garner and improve their understanding of talent management and its applicability in the fast food service sector. Further understanding of the concept can be derived from developing dimensions and measures of talent management that can be generalized to the food service sector.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 6: Human Resource Management.



Sinclair-Maragh, G., Jacobs-Gray, N. and Brown-Roomes, N. (2017), "A case of talent management practices in motivating fast food service employees", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 7 No. 3.



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