In the US corporate setting, a trend has emerged dubbed as ‘The Great Resignation‘. It refers to the increasing number of employees who are leaving their jobs since the late months of 2020. This trend in the US, however, appears to be a global phenomenon as it is experienced by other countries, specifically, those in the Asia-Pacific. In a survey conducted by Mercer, higher turnover rates were observed among Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
As a public sector human resource practitioner, I cannot deny that this global phenomenon is indeed happening in our country. In our organisation alone, attrition rates have increased from the late 2020s from 5% in October 2020 to 8% by October 2021, with compensation, further studies, and opportunities for advancement as primary reasons for leaving.
A government entity faced with this challenge, however, is not at liberty to immediately address such concerns. Pay increases and other perks cannot be easily instituted as it undergoes a tedious approval process. Career advancement or promotion is neither easily attainable due to limited positions in the Government.
In light of these circumstances, our HR team initiated the establishment of a retention framework intended to offer alternatives and keep employees satisfied, enough to stay with the organisation. It is this initiative that stirred my interest to study the interplay among organisational climate, mental well-being, and employee work engagement on the retention of the employees.
In determining organisational climate, we measure the employees’ perception on established rules and regulations, relationships, environment, and management or leadership of the organisation. On the other hand, the mental well-being of employees plays a vital role in affecting a person and their productivity at work, which in turn, affects the whole organisation.
In connection with this, I have come up with a hypothesis that organisational climate and mental well-being are related to employee engagement, and it affects the attrition and retention rate of the organization.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the relationship between organisational climate and employee engagement, as well as mental well-being and employee engagement. In a 2021 study by Damianus Abun and colleagues, it was found that organisational climate of the Divine Word Colleges was correlated with the work engagement of its employees, and even recommended the improvement of school management. Meanwhile, in a study conducted by Brad Shuck and Thomas Reio, they found that high engagement group employees demonstrated higher psychological well-being and personal accomplishment, whereas, low engagement group employees manifested higher emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. While these studies have clearly shown the relationship between organisational climate, mental well-being and employee engagement, these were conducted in the private sector setting, and I want to take explore applicability to the public sector setting.
As a foundation of this study, I would like to explore the JD-R Theory of Bakker and Demerouti as the theoretical framework. I plan to use mixed methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative methods. For the quantitative method, I will use different surveys such as the climate of our organisation which serves as an existing measure for mental well-being and employee engagement. For the qualitative aspect of the study, individual and focus group discussions will be conducted to validate survey responses, and thematic analysis will be applied to the data gathered. The participants of the study will be determined by random sampling.
As this remains to be a proposal, this may be subject to changes depending on the different factors and feasibility of the study. Nevertheless, I expect that the study can help our organisation as well as other government agencies in determining employee needs, come up with better policies and guidelines that can contribute to the better management of the organisation, and proper interventions in addressing this problem.
Micaella Shaira Javier is a master’s degree student at Polytechnic University of the Philippines.