Goal Clarity, Trust in Management and Intention to Stay: The Mediating Role of Work Engagement

 - South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management

One of the most predominant concerns for managers and executives in the past hundred years and possibly well into the foreseeable future is retention of employees. According to a report by the Society of Human Resources Management (2016), 46 per cent of the HR managers consider employee turnover a significant concern. The renowned industrialist of the nineteenth century, Andrew Carnegie, quoted ‘Take away my factories, my plants; take away my railroads, my ships, my transportation, take away my money; strip me of all of these but leave me my key employees, and in two or three years, I will have them all again’. Although two centuries have passed since those words, they continue to ring true in the current age of Information Technology (IT). Retaining key employees is and will always be an essential competitive advantage for any organisation. According to a report by Gallup (2017), 51 per cent of US employees claim to be actively looking for a new job. Losing good employees can affect the morale of existing employees and have negative impact on productivity and quality of work. A global survey conducted by Deloitte (2014) with 2,500 business leaders has shown employee turnover to be one of the most alarming challenges faced by businesses today. Despite the increasing attention to employee turnover by both researchers and practitioners, there still exists a dearth of understanding of the factors that impact the employee’s intention to stay with their current organisation.

Studies have shown that organisations experience lower voluntary turnover when employees are engaged in their work (Bailey et al., 2017). Work engagement has been defined as ‘a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind characterized by vigour, dedication, and absorption’. Employees who are highly engaged exhibit high-quality performance and positive work behaviours such as leadership, organisational citizenship behaviour and commitment. There is strong evidence that engaged employees contribute to productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction and shareholder returns. On the other hand, low levels of engagement result in billions of dollar losses (Albrecht et al., 2015). Hence, it is important to understand the factors affecting work engagement.

The Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) theory provides the theoretical background for understanding the antecedents and outcomes of work engagement. Based on the JD-R theory, this study proposes that job resources (i.e., goal clarity and trust in management) are the core drivers of work engagement and job demands (i.e., work–family conflict) are the stressors that reduce engagement levels. Work engagement is considered as a critical mediator between job resources and the organisational outcomes. In this study, we posit work engagement as a mediator, in the relationship between goal clarity, trust in management, work–family conflict and intention to stay. Studies by Alfes et al. (2013) and Saks (2006) have shown that an increase in work engagement decreases voluntary turnover and enhances the intention to stay.

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