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Retaining professional workers: what makes them stay?

Christeen George (Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 5 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate why professional workers actually remain in their organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The design of the study was cross-sectional. A number of factors important for the retention of professional workers were identified from the literature. A 19 item “retention scale” was developed based on the identified retention factors and their characteristics. It was proposed that the retention factors could be divided into two levels: organisational and job. The retention scale was completed by 138 workers form the UK site of a multinational Marketing company. The reliability of the scale was assessed using Cronbach’s α and was found to be 0.80.

Findings

Factor analysis supported the division of the retention factors into organisational and job levels with a two factor structure in which organisational levels loaded strongly on component 1 and job level items loaded strongly on component 2. Scores on these two subscales predicted individual workers’ intention to remain within their organisation using both MANOVA and logistic regression analysis.

Research limitations/implications

This is a preliminary look at factors important for the retention of professional workers and as such has several limitations. A more comprehensive review of the literature on retention is required and further testing of the model is required with a larger sample size. Links with the literature on the psychological contract also need to be more fully explored.

Practical implications

This research has practical implications for practitioners due to the importance of retaining top talent for increased competitive advantage. The factors that have been found here to be important for retaining professional workers have also been observed in high performing companies.

Social implications

The retirement of the baby boomer generation means that there has to be a greater emphasis on retaining key employees in organisations to mitigate the loss of key skills and competences.

Originality/value

Most previous studies and many HR managers concerned with the retention of professional and other workers tend to concentrate on those aspects of the job or of the organisation that make them leave. This study is concerned with why people stay with their employers.

Keywords

Citation

George, C. (2015), "Retaining professional workers: what makes them stay?", Employee Relations, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 102-121. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-10-2013-0151

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited