Research Article: 2021 Vol: 24 Issue: 1S
Barween Al Kurdi, The Hashemite University
Hamzah Elrehail, Abu Dhabi School of Management
Haitham M. Alzoubi, Skyline University College
Muhammad Alshurideh, The University of Jordan and University of Sharjah
Raid Al-Adaileh, Skyline University College
This study aimed at investigating the impact of HRM practices (HRMPs) on employees’ intention to leave within the context of UAE’s educational sector. The mediating role of job satisfaction is also assessed. The study adopted a descriptive and analytical approach using a quantitative survey to collect the data and to test the proposed hypotheses. The sample was selected using cluster sampling method from UAE education sector. The researchers decided to use online form to save time and effort in delivering questionnaires, collecting data, and analysing results. The study revealed that both HRMPs and job satisfaction have statistically significant impact on employees’ intention to leave. HRMPs also have a significant statistical impact of job satisfaction. Furthermore, the mediating role of job satisfaction on the influential relationship between HRMPs and employees’ intention to leave is confirmed. The study recommends that top management should always make their efforts to assess and continually improve their HRMPs to avoid high turnover rate and to retain their talents. Implications and limitations are also outlined at the end of the paper.
Human Resource, Intention to Leave, Job Satisfaction, UAE
High level of education in any country can lead to more utilization of the resource and has the potential to improve the economy of that country (Al-Hamad et al., 2021; AlHamad et al., 2021; Alshurideh et al., 2021; Gylfason, 2001; Psacharopoulos, 1994). However, the educational sector is plagued by numerous challenges such as technology, funds and high demand on this sector particularly within the context of developing countries (Akour, Alshurideh, Al Kurdi, Al Ali & Salloum, 2021; Amarneh, Alshurideh, Al Kurdi & Obeidat, 2021; Elrehail, Emeagwali, Alsaad & Alzghoul, 2018; Leo, Alsharari, Abbas & Alshurideh, 2021; Mathew, 2010; OECD, 2009). Accordingly, the educational sector strives to enhance its performance through innovation and retaining qualified people (Alshamsi, Alshurideh, Al Kurdi & Salloum, 2020; Alshurideh, Gasaymeh, Ahmed, Alzoubi & Kurd, 2020; Elrehail et al., 2018; Fernández-Aráoz, 2014; Hoidn & Kärkkäinen, 2014; Mohammad & Turki, 2020). One important mechanism to achieve this is the promotion of the best possible Human Resources Management Practices (HRMPs) including compensation, training, employee involvement, career planning, performance appraisal (Alnajdawi, Emeagwali & Elrehail, 2017; Alshraideh, Al-Lozi & Alshurideh, 2017; Sami Alkalha et al., 2012; Taamneh, Alsaad & Elrehail, 2018; Wright & McMahan, 1992). These practices and other factors may affect employee’s intention to leave (Al Kurdi, Alshurideh & Al afaishata, 2020; Alameeri, Alshurideh, Al Kurdi & Salloum, 2020; Alsuwaidi, Alshurideh, Al Kurdi & Salloum, 2021; Ammari et al., 2017; Elrehail, 2019; Kurdi, Alshurideh & Alnaser, 2020; Lam, Chen & Takeuchi, 2009; Senter & Martin, 2007; Zopiatis, Constanti & Theocharous, 2014). Therefore, it seems important for any organization to introduce and follow good HRMPs practices to gain, sustain, and motivate its employees as well (Alketbi, Alshurideh & Al Kurdi, 2020; Alkitbi, Alshurideh, Al Kurdi & Salloum, 2021; AlShehhi, Alshurideh, Kurdi & Salloum, 2021; Alshurideh, Masa’deh & Al kurdi, 2012; Alzghoul, Elrehail, Emeagwali & AlShboul, 2018).
This study proposes a model to identify the impact of some systematically selected HRMPs on the employees’ intention to leave. Additionally, the study attempts to investigate the mediating impact of job satisfaction on the influential relationship between HRMPs and employees’ intention to leave. The current study can contribute to the existing literature in some noticeable ways: First, addressing a serious problem within the context of educational sector which is related to the high rate of turnover within this context. Second, the study introduces job satisfaction as mediating variable in the relationship between HRMPs and the employees’ intention to leave. Last, the study is conducted within the context of an Arab country (United Arab Emirates) where the number of foreign employees is large, the rate of turnover is high and not stable, and the scarcity of similar studies is a major concern.
During the academic year 2014-2015, 712 of around 25,000 employees from the ministry of education had quit, and similar rate of quits happens yearly (emaratalyoum.com newspaper, 2016). This issue needs to be studied and have enough focus to be resolved in order to avoid employees’ intention to leave and turnover rates (Al-Dmour, AlShaar, Al-Dmour, Masa’deh & Alshurideh, 2021; Al-Khayyal, Alshurideh, Al Kurdi & Salloum, 2020; Hayajneh et al., 2021). “Do HRM practices and job satisfaction affect employee’s intention to leave?” is a question that always challenges researchers and practitioners. Since human resource seems to be the most important strategic resource that can lead the success of any organization, it is a critical concern for all types of organizations to manage their human capital in the best effective and efficient manner. Therefore, it is the responsibility of an organization to encourage the best HRMPs. This, as this paper argues seems important to improve the level of employees’ job (Aburayya et al., 2020; Al-Khayyala, Alshuridehb, Al Kurdic & Aburayyad, 2020; Al Kurdi, Alshurideh & Salloum, 2020; Alzoubi, Alshurideh, Kurdi & Inairat, 2020). Good compensation, training, career path monitoring, fair performance appraisal in addition to employees’ involvement in decision making process are all identified as standards HRMPs that can impact employees’ intention to leave in addition to their level of satisfaction. Therefore, the major issues regarding the relatively high turnover within the ministry of education, as this study proposes, are expected to be the improper HRMPs of the organization and the lack of job satisfaction. Employee retention, particularly that of skilled or professional workers, seems to be a critical issue in several different areas. Organizations must consider the risk of losing their well-trained employees who might leave for better prospects in other organizations.
An employee’s departure not only affects normal operation and work quality, but also represents economic costs, both in terms of direct costs (i.e., replacement, recruitment and selection, resourcing, management time) and perhaps more considerably, in terms of indirect costs (i.e., morale, cohesion, commitment, pressure on remaining staff, organizational memory). It also can lead to the loss of social capital (Griffeth et al., 2000; Boxall & Purcell, 2008). Unmanaged loss of employees disrupts organizational communities and reduces the morale of those who stay (Allen et al., 2010). Based on the above discussion the current study seeks to answer the following main research question:
What is the impact of HRMPs on the employees’ intention to leave as mediated by the level of job satisfaction?
The main aim of this study is to investigate the impact of HRMPs on employees’ intention to leave as mediated by the level of employees’ job satisfaction. In addition, the study seeks to achieve the following objectives:
1. To explore the direct impact of HRMPs on the employees’ intention to leave.
2. To explore the direct impact of HRMPs on the level of job satisfaction.
3. To identify the direct impact of employees’ job satisfaction on their intention to leave.
4. To provide a set of recommendation for decision makers and practitioners based on the findings of the study.
A company's first and foremost heavyweight integral part is its workforce. To achieve the postulated business goals, produce the aimed results and to successfully meet its financial targets, a company needs to invest in, rely on, and effectively manage its employees. Here comes the concept of HRM. Every organization has a HRM team to look after its employees. Without the involvement of its employees, the exact and potential goals cannot be achieved properly. Business problems that the companies are facing nowadays are mostly due to the unwanted turnover of the employees (Taylor, 2002). Recent trends of huge turnovers in companies have attracted the serious attention of the HRM departments of the organizations to rethink their policies and practices (Okcu et al., 2019).
The decision to leave the organization has a substantial impact on the organization and is increasing the costs of recruitment, and training. Furthermore, high rate of turnover raises might be seen as an indication of low level of loyalty and job satisfaction (Wheeler, Gallagher, Brouer & Sablynski, 2007). Recently, the turnover of employees has a negative influence on the organizational reputation in the market which might affect their operation as well as the job seekers’ intentions towards applying to a particular organization (Cho, Johanson & Guchait, 2009). In this regard, proper HRMPs could reduce the risk of employees turnover and minimize the effect of intention to leave (Regts & Molleman, 2013). Further, it is vastly reported in HRM literature how job satisfaction plays a vital role in decreasing the level of intention to leave the organization. However, the scarcity of research studies relating to the intention to leave in the educational sector is a major concern for scholars in the HRM field (Javed, Javed, Ahmed & Anjum, 2019).
Although turnover is sometimes helpful in replacing marginal employees with more productive ones, when a properly trained and skilled employee leaves a company, the company needs to customize its resources accordingly to keep the work going on and to avoid further loss which is indeed a challenging job (Mudor & Phadett, 2011). Losing efficient employees in any organization would eventually increase work pressure, cause major misery in the work culture within the organization and drop in employees’ positive spirit in challenging situations (Ramlall, 2003). Replacing an employee needs great effort and time, which in turn is a cost effort. Lack of appreciation, poor pay scale, unsatisfying jobs, limited career opportunities, strict management policies, unreliable leadership and flawed work cultures are among the most cited reasons for employees’ turnover (Branham, 2005).
Additionally, previous studies revealed that the overall level of employees satisfaction can highly contribute to the overall satisfaction of organizational stakeholders (Alshurideh, 2014; Danish & Usman, 2010; Silverthorne, 2004; Sultan et al., 2021). Job satisfaction is also seen as one of the most important factors that affect the well-being of employees and their productivity (Gabčanová, 2011; Platis, Reklitis & Zimeras, 2015). Furthermore, the satisfaction of employees could improve their performance and motivation in addition to minimizing their intention to leave. These factors are of strategic concern for all types of business organization. Accordingly, the proper utilization and implementation of HRMPs could lead to superior performance, motivated employees, and to the achievement of the overall organizational strategic goals.
Retention of employees particularly the skilled and professional ones has been a crucial factor in different sectors of jobs nowadays. And it is an expensive premise for any organization. It has been observed through the years that job satisfaction is one of the most important factors behind an employee's job quitting tendency. When the job-satisfaction is quite low, employees start to possess a negative perception of the organization they are working for and make the decision to quit (Nguyen, Taylor & Bergiel, 2017). A country's overall economic situation may change the story to some extent, but the studies on HRMPs and job satisfaction reveal that either being a developed country or a developing country, a company's employees are not running for money only, instead, they opt for the work they love.
In 2017, a questionnaire survey was performed in Thailand with 1028 accountants in one of the largest corporations and its associated ventures. The study revealed that all organizational job embeddedness was strongly connected with almost all HR practices. It was also evident from the survey results that when job satisfaction rises, the quit intention among the employees declines as a result. (Watanapaisal, 2018; Esch et al., 2018) investigated the relationship between the high-performance HRMPs and firm performances in China. According to them, this relationship can be stronger with the support of organizational climate for creativity. In the year 2016, another questionnaire survey was made in the textile industry in Pakistan to investigate the HRMPs in the industry and their impact on the performance of the employees (Esch, 2018). The study concluded that individual optimization of the working ability of the employees and allocating tasks accordingly will help to minimize the intention to quit job among the employees. Bergiel, et al., 2009) conducted a thorough study in the USA to identify the exact role played by job embeddedness on the relationship between HRMPs and the employees' tendency to leave their jobs. Their study identified several factors that have an important impact on HRMPs including allowances, supervisor's support, advancement, scopes and training. A similar study was conducted in the UK in 2016 which revealed that with proper HRMPs, a healthy work culture and job embeddedness in the organizations can be maintained (Firth et al., 2004).
The prime aim of the present study is to infer the actual impact of HRMPs and job satisfaction on the intention to quit. based on an extensive review of the available studies and considering the context of the study, five HRM practices were identified including compensation, Career planning, training, employee involvement, and performance appraisal. The study also seeks to explore the potential mediating impact of job satisfaction which can add more depth to the analysis of the proposed interrelationships.
To achieve the aim and objectives of this research, the following model is proposed (figure 1).
The overall proposition of the above model is that a successful organization will always think of employees to make a profitable business. It is evident from the model that the intention of quitting a job comes from the extent of job satisfaction and job satisfaction is dependent upon the dimensions of HRMPs.
To test the proposed study model, the following hypotheses are proposed:
H1 – HRMPs (Compensation - Career planning - Training - Employee involvement - Performance appraisal) have a significant direct impact on employees’ intention to leave with the mediator role of job satisfaction at UAE’s MOE.
H2 - HRMPs (Compensation - Career planning - Training - Employee involvement - Performance appraisal) have a significant direct impact on job satisfaction at UAE’s MOE.
H3 - Job satisfaction has a significant direct impact on the employees’ intention to leave at UAE’s MOE.
H4 - HRMPs (Compensation - Career planning - Training - Employee involvement - Performance appraisal) have a significant indirect impact on employees’ intention to leave with the mediating role of job satisfaction
This study uses a descriptive and analytical approach. A quantitative survey is used to collect the data and to test the proposed hypotheses. This approach allows collecting data from the largest possible sample from the population of the study, which will include the employees within the context of the Ministry Of Education (MOE) in UAE. The population includes: (top management employees, ministry employees, all departments inside and outside the ministry’s head office, like training institutes, educational zones, educational offices, schools, kindergartens, etc...). MOE has around 25000 employees and the number is increasing year by year due to the growth in number of the population of the UAE, and the growth in the number of schools.
The sample was selected using cluster sampling method from Fujairah and Khorfakkan education zones. Data was collected using a questionnaire that was designed for the aim of this particular study. The questionnaire was built using Google forms (online form). The researchers decided to use online form to save time and effort in delivering questionnaires, collecting data, and analyzing results. A link (URL) to the questionnaire questions was sent to the targeted respondents to answer them online and responses were sent back to the researchers for analysis. 82 questionnaires were gathered, checked and analyzed. Table (1) below provides and outline of the sample characteristics.
|50 or more||5||6.1|
|Experience||5 or less||9||11.0|
|21 or more||12||14.6|
Cronbach's alpha and composite reliability values were calculated to test the reliability of the questionnaire all values were above the threshold point 0.70 as recommended by (Alnajdawi et al., 2017; Cronbach, 1951) (see table 2).
|intention to leave||0.86|
For analysis purpose, VB-SEM was used to analyze the data. According to this approach, the analysis involves two stages. The measurement model and structural model. Furthermore, several techniques and tests were used to produce numerical data and to test the study hypotheses. This study used the Partial Least Square Structure Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) for hypotheses testing. Recently PLS-SEM has received much predilection to be used by management scholars (Hair, Sarstedt, Hopkins & Kuppelwieser, 2014). Moreover, PLS-SEM is an efficient tool to use when the model has many latent variables (Alsaad, Mohamad & Ismail, 2017; Elrehail, 2018).
The validity of the measurement model was assessed using the Average Variance Extracted (AVE) values and all of these values were above the cut-off point of 0.50 as presented in table 3.
Average Variance Extracted
|Construct||Average variance extracted (AVE)|
|ntention to leave||0.63|
To make sure that the items measuring all variables of the study are relevant and valid, items loadings were calculated (Table 4), the loading of all items was above the cut-off value of 0.7.
|Indicator||Compensation||Career planning||Employee involvement||Performance appraisal||Training||Job s||I2L||HR practices|
To test the study hypotheses, the analysis involved two structural models; the main effect model to test the direct influential relationships that are proposed in H1, H2, and H3 and the mediation model to test the mediating role of job satisfaction between HRMPs and intention to leave. Table 5 below shows the total effect interference among the study variables.
The Total Effect Interference Among The Study Variables
|Hypotheses||Original coefficient||Standard bootstrap results||Percentile bootstrap quantiles|
|Mean value||Standard error||t-value||p-value (2-sided)||p-value (1-sided)||0.5%|
|H1: HRMPs -> intention to leave||0.8321||0.8296||0.0449||18.5213||0.0000||0.0000||0.6736|
|H2: HRMPs -> Job satisfaction||0.8303||0.8274||0.0507||16.3632||0.0000||0.0000||0.6400|
|H3+H4: HRMPs -> Job satisfaction -> intention to leave||0.5505||0.5473||0.0632||8.7167||0.0000||0.0000||0.3472|
As observed in table 5 above, the results show a positive significant impact for HRMPs on employees' intention to leave. Furthermore, significant impact for HRMPs on employees’ level of satisfaction is confirmed. Concerning the mediating role of job satisfaction, the results support and confirm our proposition that job satisfaction can mediate the influential relationship between HRMPs and employees' intention to leave. Figure (2) shows the PLS graphical display of the observed influential and mediating relationships.
This study aimed at examining the role of HRMPs on employees' intention to leave in addition to the mediating role of employees' job satisfaction. This study diagnosed a model that seeks exploration of two precedents of employees' intention to leave which, as one could argue, is a growing trend that is rarely tested in the GCC region. These two precedents include HRMPs and job satisfaction in the educational sector. This study also explores the mediating role of job satisfaction. Previous studies concerning the relationship between HRMPs and the positive outcomes on individual and organizational level such as employee creativity, teamwork, commitment, and employee performance (Elrehail et al., 2019). HRMPs plays a crucial role in retaining talented employees' and the practice-oriented perspective is more important for organizations, as it explores the real value of HRMPs.
The first hypothesis endeavoured to identify the influential relationship between HRMPs and employees' intention to leave. The results confirmed our assumption that HRMPs is associated with the employees' intention to leave. These results indicated that HRMPs play a crucial role in the employees' decision about leaving or staying in the organization. This, in turn, can affect the organizational performance and increasing the risk of employee turnover, which leads to financial and non-financial losses which could affect the quality of the educational sector. Our findings are consistent with prior studies (e.g. Guchait & Cho, 2010; Sarmad, Ajmal, Shamim, Saleh & Malik, 2016; Mehrez & Bakri, 2019). However, this study broadens our knowledge to a sector that is rarely tested in the existing body of HRM literature within the context of GCC region. Special training and development program will cut-down the intention to leave especially old-worker and senior level as has been proven in this study which is consistent with (Berg, Hamman, Piszczek & Ruhm, 2017) study. Moreover, since most of the prior HRMPs-employee turnover studies have been from the HR manager's point of view, these findings could add some insight to this concern from the employees’ point of view.
The second hypothesis sought to find a positive direct impact for HRMPs on job satisfaction. The test of this hypothesis revealed a significant direct impact for HRMPs on job satisfaction. This means that the appropriate HRMPs can improve the level of employees’ job satisfaction. Therefore, the HRMPs adopted by the educational sector can lead to more loyal and committed employees in the aforementioned sector (Huang & Su, 2016; Nathan & Scobell, 2012; Taamneh, Alsaad & Elrehail, 2018). Furthermore, this study finding agrees with existing studies that previously tested the direct impact of HRMPs on job satisfaction (e.g. Ijigu, 2015; Mostafa & Gould-Williams, 2014). The proper HRM system in the organization will lead to a bundle of benefits that will cover all aspect of the organization including increasing the satisfaction of the employees. This can be justified based on the role of HRM and its continuous intervention with employees’ journey starting from pre-recruitment stages (e.g. advertising, interviewing, & attraction) through induction, training, motivation to the retirement. Therefore, HRMPs can reflect the organizational overall philosophy in dealing with employees.
The third hypothesis in this study proposed a significant impact for job satisfaction on employees’ intention to leave. Having a high level of job satisfaction will decrease the risk of employees’ intention to leave. This study result confirms the proposed association between job satisfaction and the intention to leave. This result is consistent with previous studies that test the direct relationship between job satisfaction and employee’s intention to leave (e.g. Abu Elanain, 2010; Bayarcelik & Findikli, 2016; Suifan, Diab & Abdallah, 2017). All these studies confirmed that the relationship between job satisfaction and intention to leave was significant and consistently negative.
The fourth hypothesis seeks to identify the indirect impact of HRMPs on intention to leave through the mediating role of job satisfaction. Based on the analysis of the dataset, this study revealed a significant indirect path between HRMPs and intention to leave through job satisfaction, and a direct impact between HRMPs and intention to leave. This result means that job satisfaction is partially mediating the relationship between HRMPs and employees’ intention to leave. Some previous studies attempted to understand the role of job satisfaction and its power by explaining the mechanism of how HRMPs affecting the intention to leave. Furthermore, “A mediator effect can be utilized in situations wherein the relationship between constructs is strong and studies encompassing those constructs are mature” (Taamneh et al., 2018). This study revealed a piece of fruitful information about the mediating role of job satisfaction and this finding is consistent with prior studies (e.g. Abubakar, Chauhan & Kura, 2014; Katou, 2017; Marescaux, De Winne & Sels, 2012; Rasouli, 2013).
Some noticeable implications for HR practitioner can be derived from this study and may also be important for researchers in Arabian countries, precisely UAE. The recent development in the Arabian countries increased the need for establishing and developing the HRMPs to be fit with various nationalities working in these nations. As discussed earlier in this paper HRMPs are associated with the intention to leave as well as the job satisfaction. Therefore, organizations should focus not only on maintaining and retaining good and talented employees, but also on improving their efficiency and skills. Furthermore, operations related to the educational sector are considered complex in their nature, which requires energetic employees and high level of adaptability to changes in addition to awareness about the implementation of new standards. We also advise practitioners to develop robust HRMPs, driven by quality, respect, and continuous development. Top management and executives should also assess their HRMPs to improve the level of employees’ satisfaction and to decrease their intentions to leave. No doubt that viewing employees as a strategic investment instead of cost element will develop the future potential of any business. Since retaining of the qualified employees has been always a challenge in all organizations. It seems that there is a need for re-inventing of managerial practices and strategies to adopt the concept of human capital and investment viewpoint rather than workers and cost viewpoint to retain their employees. Management including HRM should take initiatives to identify and continuously evaluate the job satisfaction factors and make every needed effort to control and manipulate these factors. Top management needs to work closely with HRM to search for indications of dissatisfaction and quickly respond to them. Several applications for screening of the factors that can lead to dissatisfaction are available with the help of information and communication technologies nowadays (Al-Adaileh, Saraireh & Alomis, 2016). These applications provide updated information relevant to these factors.
Although this study made several contributions to the educational sector as well as HRM research, it has some limitations. First, the data collected is from two geographical locations in the UAE. Therefore, our findings are limited to the educational sector in UAE. Second, the cross-sectional design of the study, the inference among variables is limited. Our suggestion is to conduct a longitudinal study to overcome this shortcoming. Third, the mediating effect of job satisfaction is partially interfering with the relationship between HRMPs and intention to leave. Therefore, the ability of job satisfaction to explain this interference is limited. Lastly, the limited number of variables in this study might limit the contribution of this study. Therefore, this study recommends testing some other variables such as; work commitment, workplace environment, psychological capital and future time perspective as mediating variables alongside job satisfaction.
The study has been useful in understanding the relationship between HRM practices and the level of job satisfaction. However in order to keep the employees motivated, MOE should take continuous feedback from the employees and continuous improvement should be maintained so that the HRMPs could be improved on a continuous basis (Javeed, Rafiq, Ahmed & Khan, 2012). The high rate of employees' turnover that is observed in different sectors within the context of UAE in addition to the cited significant impact of HRMPs on employees' intention to leave calls for more consideration of HRMPs in these sectors in order to control the turnover rate.
Moreover, improving the compensation system, motivating the employees through some incentive means like health insurance, accommodation allowances, and better working conditions seems highly recommended practices. HRM should also improve the performance appraisal system which was related strongly to the job satisfaction according to this study. This study shows that the employees of the MOE are really satisfied with the training system of the MOE, and their career plans which means that the MOE has good and strong training and career plans. The MOE should focus on job loyalty of their employees as the participants show some hesitation when asked about leaving their work place if they found a better chance.
The overall findings of this study calls and emphasize the need to view employees as an investment and effective participants in the organizational success. The risk of high level of intention to leave must be well mitigated through more effective coordination between top management and HRM.
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