Employee Retention - About Open Academic Journals Index


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Management and Administrative Sciences Review Volume 6, Issue 1 Pages: 28-40 January, 2017

e-ISSN: 2308-1368 p-ISSN: 2310-872X

Employee Retention: A Comprehensive Review and Classification Talha Imam1*, Hassan Ali2 and Hooi Sin Soo3 1. School of Business Management, University Utara Malaysia 2. School of Business Management, University Utara Malaysia 3. School of Business Management, University Utara Malaysia

The purpose of the current study is to review the academic literature in the field of employee retention, and to conduct a content analysis in order to classify and provide a comprehensive bibliography. Emerald Insight, Science Direct and Willey Online Library databases were used to review the available literature on employee retention. The database search showed 226 publications after mentioning employee retention as the primary research topic. The publication sample was further reduced to only include empirical research studies in qualitative and quantitative domain. The result was reduced to a sample of 79 research publications, which were classified in to mutually exclusive categories. The content analysis led to classification of literature on the basis of five categories, i.e. publication type, publication journal, publication research area, research region and publication year. The study identifies ten years’ history of research on employee retention starting from 2007 to present and hints towards future research prospects in research in terms of area of study, type of study. Current study provides a comprehensive bibliography that will be useful to both academicians and practitioners for studying existing research as well as for anticipating future research. Keywords: Employee Retention; Classification; Literature Review



he literature from any discipline in a published form, i.e. trade publications, journal articles, conference proceedings, case studies, dissertation, etc. provide the accessible knowledge regarding that specific discipline and helps to track the past history, trends, future key interest areas of that discipline. An investigation of existing published information of a discipline can reveal broad and significant information about the

discipline (Hart, 1998). Gay, Mills and Airasian (2011) mentioned that investigation of a published literature provides in-depth knowledge about any discipline and field. Feehan (1985) argued that the answers about all the questions regarding any discipline can be acquired by its published research literature. Alike other fields, research on Employee Retention has been published as journal literature. Journals play a role of a platform for presenting and

*Corresponding author: Talha Imam, School of Business Management, University Utara Malaysia E-Mail: [email protected]


Manag. Adm. Sci. Rev. e-ISSN: 2308-1368, p-ISSN: 2310-872X Volume: 6, Issue: 1, Pages: 28-40

further validating worldwide.





Humans play a role as a blood for any organization running through organizational veins. Although organizations are well equipped with the latest technological resource, however, humans as a resource are always required to control and direct the technology and seen as a vital segment of any organization (Wright, Dunford & Snell, 2001). Organizations are facing challenges not only regarding managing the human resource but also retaining them is a big challenge for organizations in order to survive through competitive market (Govaerts et al., 2011). Employee retention has been defined as a careful and necessary effort by an organization to keep employees for longer period (Frank, Finnegan & Taylor, 2004). Khan et al. (2011) followed the previous definition and defined ER as a strategical initiative in order to develop a long lasting link between organizations and employees so that they can be sustained and retained. In compliance with the previous definitions, Das and Baruah (2013) defined employee retention as a process based on motivational tools initiated by organizations in order to sustain and retain valuable employees for longer period of time. Although employee retention literature has been previously reviewed by the researchers (Das & Baruah, 2013), however, the study focused towards few factors only and reviewed the concerned literature. Moreover, the past study does not classify the available literature into different categories (Das & Baruah, 2013). Therefore, more research is required to understand employee retention. The current study will provide the information and overview for available scholarly research in the field of ER and will help to enhance the understanding of employee retention research. Moreover, current study will provide the distribution and classification of literature as well as comprehensive bibliography for future researchers. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Current study is based on the review of available employee retention literatures on academic research journals. The literature in this study has applied a content analysis technique for the

purpose of classification. Content analysis technique has been defined as a replicable and organized technique for summarizing long contents into short categories based on clear rules of coding (Weber, 1990). Content analysis technique is useful to help researchers to discover and define the focus of individuals, groups, organizations and society (weber, 1990). Current study will evaluate and classify the employee retention literature according to the following criteria: 

Research type

Publication journal

Publication year

Publication subject area

Research region

Current study used employee retention literature restricted to Emerald full text, Science Direct, Willey Online Library databases. This restriction was imposed due to the easy access, extensive and comprehensive literature availability of the database. There are many kind of studies available on employee retention literature, i.e. case studies, tools, reports, etc. However, this study included only empirical journal papers. In addition, conference proceedings, dissertations, monographs, text books and pending research papers were also excluded in the current study. In addition, due to the time and resource restrain only last 10 years’ empirical studies were included in this study. TABLE 1 HERE DATA ANALYSIS The literature search was based on the term “employee retention” in publication title and abstract only in order to get comprehensive and relevant literature. The databases generated 226 publications related to employee retention. However, using all the restricted filters in order to scrutinize further, 79 publications were acquired as a sample for the current study. The basic classification of the current study was based on the nature of the sample publications, i.e. qualitative, quantitative or mixed method. The sample publications’ nature was found more skewed towards quantitative research design.


Manag. Adm. Sci. Rev. e-ISSN: 2308-1368, p-ISSN: 2310-872X Volume: 6, Issue: 1, Pages: 28-40

Figure 1 shows 82% of the empirical research publications were following quantitative design, whereas, only 12% focused on qualitative and only 6% publications focused on triangulation/mixedmethod design. FIGURE 1 HERE The second classification for the sample publications was based on the publication year. This helps researchers to follow the trend in the field of Employee Retention. A trend in the sample publications was observed, i.e. 2009 and 2013 were the crucial years for employee retention publications. This trend can be observed in figure 2. FIGURE 2 HERE The sample publications were further analyzed on the bases of the publication journal. Publication journal shows the strength of the published research. The sample of 79 publications in the current study originate from 59 journals. The classification of the journals is presented in table 1. TABLE 1 HERE Another variable of classification in this study is the region where these researches were conducted. This helps to understand the future researchers that what regions have been focused in the past literature of Employee Retention. According the current study classification, past research was conducted in 22 countries/regions. The distribution of the past literature can be observed in the figure 3. FIGURE 3 HERE The classified results showed that Employee Retention research in the past literature has more focused towards USA, UK and India. Based on the current study classification, future researchers can fill the gap of employee retention research by focusing more on the emerging Asian countries like Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, etc. Once the regional classification was completed in the current study, authors further focused towards cross regional research and publications. In that case, it was found that only 2 publications focused on cross cultural/ cross regional/ cross country research on employee retention. Between these 2 studies 1 study focused on Asian comparison among Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand, while other study focused on the comparison between Austria and

Hungry. This showed that there Is further gap for future researcher to focus in cross regional comparison on employee retention research. The sample publications were further scrutinized based on the research subject. Although the basic subject criteria of sample detection for this study was employee retention, which shows that all the publications in the sample generally lie in the area. However, further classification was initiated to discover the other subject areas covered by authors under employee retention research. The classification showed that authors conducted employee retention research in 17 different subject areas. The distribution of the subject area is shown in figure 4. FIGURE 4 HERE DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The current study can be considered as a survey research due to the reasons explained earlier. Therefore, the findings can be generalized to the population. However, the sample cannot be generalized to the larger literature of employee retention for the considerable reasons. The majority of the publications are taken in the five closely related categories, i.e. publication type, publication journal, publication research area, research region and publication year. In addition, current study highlights the saturation of empirical studies of employee retention in human resource (HR) and organizational behavior, talent management and talent retention. However, other promising subject areas in employee retention are yet to be discover for better understanding of this vital concept. Furthermore, other subject areas in employee retention research, i.e. knowledge retention, corporate entrepreneurship, employment security and outsourcing are needed to be further explored. The contribution of research journals towards the field of Employee Retention is another interesting classification of the literature. Most of the research publications were from the “African Journal of Business Management” and “Children and Youth Service Review”. Future analysis of individual journals and their contribution in the broad field of Employee retention and its sub-areas may highlight


Manag. Adm. Sci. Rev. e-ISSN: 2308-1368, p-ISSN: 2310-872X Volume: 6, Issue: 1, Pages: 28-40

the initiations, historical analysis, rise and saturation of the research fields. This may additionally suggest the new sub-areas of research, which will assist the new researchers. Furthermore, current study also highlights the major interest of authors in employee retention research in USA and UK. Though a few researchers have explored a comparative analysis of the different region. Therefore, research gap still exists in exploration of employee retention in the emerging regions of the world. In conclusion, employee retention research has attracted significant research interest by authors around the globe. Going by the past trend, it can be expected that research in this area will further increase in near future. There are many research areas within the field of employee retention still need to be explored. A better understanding of all the variables in this field is essential to have a better comprehension of human resource potential for the prosperity of organizations and industries. REFERENCES

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APPENDIX Table 1: Classification of publications as per journal

S.no 1

Journal Title Academy of Information and Management Sciences Journal


3 4 5 6 7 8

9 10 11 12 13 14

15 16 17 18 19

20 21 22

African Journal of Business Management Applied Computing and Informatics ASBM Journal of Management Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources Australasian journal on ageing Career Development International

Publications Zhao & Rashid (2010) Anis, Khan & Humayoun (2011); Anis, Nasir & Safwan (2011); Chiboiwa, Samuel & Chipunza (2010); Samuel & Chipunza (2009); Naris & Ukpere (2010) Naqvi & Bashir (2015) Anitha & Begum (2016); Chatterjee (2009) Thite & Russell (2010); Mountford (2013)

Austen, McMurray, Lewin & Ong (2013) James, Westerman & Yamamura (2007) Ellett, Ellis & Westbrook (2007); Benton (2016); Johnco, Salloum, Olson & Edwards (2014); Westbrook, Ellett & Asberg (2012); CollinsChildren and Youth Services Review Camargo, Ellett & Lester (2012); Ellett (2009) Disasters Korff, Balbo, Mills, Heyse & Wittek (2015) Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice Monsen & Wayne Boss (2009) European Management Journal Stirpe & Zárraga-Oberty (2016). Global Management Journal for Khan (2013) Academic & Corporate Studies Health & Social Care in The Evans & Huxley (2009) Community Kraimer, Shaffer & Bolino (2009); Kaplan, Wiley & Maertz (2011); Hausknecht, Rodda and Human Resource Management Howard (2009), Human Resource Management Haar & White (2013); Mignonac & Richebé Journal (2013) Indian Journal of Management Sankar (2015) Science International Business Review Ahammad, Tarba, Liu & Glaister (2016). International Journal of Business and Sutanto & Kurniawan (2016) Society International Journal of Moncarz, Zhao & Kay (2009) Contemporary Hospitality Management International Journal of Economics Haider, Rasli, Akhtar, Md Yusoff, Malik, Aamir and Financial Issues & Tariq (2015) International Journal of Hospitality Choudhury & McIntosh (2013); Wildes (2007); Management Lee & Way (2010) International Journal of Manpower Kroon & Freese (2013) 37

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23 24

International Journal of Organizational Analysis IUP Journal of Management Research

25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

45 46 47 48

Journal of Advanced Nursing Journal of Business and Management Journal of Business Ethics Journal of Community Psychology Journal of Family Business Strategy Journal of Global Business Issues Journal of Human Resources Journal of Management Development Journal of Management Research Journal of Nursing Management Journal of Nursing Scholarship Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research Journal of Service Management Journal of Strategic Human Resource Management Journal of Systems and Information Technology Journal of Workplace Learning Journal of World Business Kuwait Chapter of the Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review Labour Economics Library Management Midwifery National Bureau of Economic Research

49 50

Nutrition & Dietetics Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

51 Personnel psychology 52 Personnel Review

Ghosh, Satyawadi, Joshi & Shadman (2013) Mahal (2012) Robson & Robson (2015); Stordeur & D'Hoore (2007); Carter & Tourangeau (2012). Kasekende, Byarugaba & Nakate (2013) Doh, Stumpf & Tymon Jr (2011); Singh & Selvarajan (2013) Walker, Accadia & Costa (2016). Pittino, Visintin, Lenger v& Sternad (2016) Shore (2013) Shacklock, Brunetto & Nelson (2009) Gentry, Kuhnert, Mondore & Page (2007) Idris (2014) Spence Laschinger, Leiter, Day & Gilin (2009). Lavoie‐Tremblay, Paquet, Duchesne, Santo, Gavrancic, Courcy & Gagnon (2010). McLemore, Levi & James (2015) Martin, Sinclair, Lelchook, Wittmer & Charles (2012) Garrett (2008) Connie Zheng (2009) Arora (2012) Bairi, Manohar & Kundu (2011) Govaerts, Kyndt, Dochy & Baert (2011) Tymon, Stumpf & Doh (2010) Motlou, Singh & Karodia (2016

Carrell (2007) Strothmann & Ohler (2011) Wood, Mansoor, Hashemy, Namey, Gohar, Ayoubi & Todd (2013) Berg, Hamman, Piszczek & Ruhm (2015) Hughes, Odgers‐Jewell, Vivanti, Ferguson & Leveritt (2011). Hom & Xiao (2011) McKay, Avery, Tonidandel, Morris, Hernandez & Hebl (2007) De Vos & Meganck (2009); De Vos & Meganck (2008)


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53 54 55 56 57 58 59

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences

Anvari, Mansor, Rahman, Rahman & Idrus (2014) Gould‐williams, bottomley, Redman, Snape, Public Administration Bishop, Limpanitgul & Mostafa (2014) Review of HRM Deo (2014). SCMS Journal of Indian Management James & Mathew (2012) Strategic Outsourcing: An Sengupta & Dev (2013) International Journal The Learning Organization Marcketti & Kozar, (2007) Thunderbird International Business Ambrosius (2016) Review

Research based on nature 6%

12% Quantitative Qualitative Triangulation


Figure 1: Classification of publications as per research type

Research Publication by Year 13

12 9



9 7

7 5

2 2007










Figure 2: Classification of publications as per year


Manag. Adm. Sci. Rev. e-ISSN: 2308-1368, p-ISSN: 2310-872X Volume: 6, Issue: 1, Pages: 28-40

Research based in region 22 13 8 2


5 1

6 2















Figure 3: Classification of publications as per region

Research based on subject area TALENT RETENTION































3 1

Figure 4: Classification of publications as per subject



Employee Retention - About Open Academic Journals Index

Online Access: www.absronline.org/journals Management and Administrative Sciences Review Volume 6, Issue 1 Pages: 28-40 January, 2017 e-ISSN: 2308-1...

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