An investigation into staff retention issues in a New Zealand District Health Board

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Rodrigues, Wilfrid
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Business
Unitec Institute of Technology
Nel, Pieter
Du Plessis, Andries
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
human resources management (HRM)
staff retention
health industry
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Rodrigues, W. (2008). An investigation into staff retention issues in a New Zealand District Health Board. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Business, Unitec New Zealand, New Zealand.
Aligning the human resource management (HRM) to improve the business performance objectives is a major commitment of the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB). The proposed strategic planning document of the ADHB (http://adhbintranet/proposed_strategic_plan.htm) states that the organisation seeks to retain desired and committed staff to improve effectiveness and increase productivity. The proposal clearly stipulates the key priorities and strategies across the board to improve human resource outcomes. One of the two major goals, which is part of the key priorities for the next five years, is to develop a strong health infrastructure which includes workforce, information technology and performance assessment. The second goal is to introduce sound employment relations strategies towards retention of desired employees. To attain these goals the focus of the ADHB was to reduce costs by retaining desired and committed employees especially international employees. A crucial factor in retaining desired international employees is to understand the needs and discontent in their employment relationship. It was necessary to understand the factor that encourages international employees to stay in their employment with the ADHB. Literature has focused on turnover models to explain various reasons for employee turnover. The models differ from each other, for example, in the type of explanatory variables modeled. Despite the uniqueness that exists between different models of employee turnover, they are linked by a key factor. Undoubtedly, employee turnover models seek to measure and predict for all employees, at all time and across all environments. The literature review highlights, based on evidence that these types of ‘one size fits all’ models are incorrect indicators of employee turnover. The critics of such type of models propose that a greater understanding of the employee turnover may be attained through the development of organisational specific models of turnover that consider variables which are important to the particular organisation and environment. The interviews with employees reveal that the expectations and needs of international employees are not fulfilled leading to dissatisfaction and perhaps employee turnover. On the other hand, the interviews with employers indicate that they have provided the required tools to employees to complete their jobs satisfactorily. The findings demonstrate that employee and employer views differ widely. International employees have indicated the following ‘needs’ as being important in order to decrease the intent to quit: Job Satisfaction, Training, Work/Life Benefits, Collective Bargaining Forum, Organisational Commitment, Career Development Plan and Internal Alternative Job Opportunities. The findings have further indicated the ‘discontent’ of the international employees to the work relationship in the ADHB. They are lack of promotion opportunities, performance appraisal process and low wages. Lack of efforts towards understanding ‘inter cultural communication’ and ‘cultural integration’ has led international employees to indicate these variables as potentially leading factors in increasing employee turnover. The research study was undertaken at the ADHB. The participants were international employees from diverse cultures across the globe. In Phase I, survey questionnaires were sent to 200 eligible international employees. The determinants considered important for employees were identified by analysing the survey instruments/comments. These determinants were then expanded into probing open ended questions to seek in-depth answers. The interview questions were centered on understanding the needs and discontent of international employees. The results of the survey were cross tabulated with dependent variables and are categorised under patterns of participation. In addition, interviews were analysed based on thematic analysis. The findings from this study show employees and employer representatives reporting wide disparities. The reason for this incongruence is explored in the context of ADHB’s retention strategies with recommendation including four-point strategy to retain desired and committed international employees.
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