Talent turnover and retention research. The case of tourism sector organisations in Saudi Arabia

Publication Date06 August 2018
AuthorAdel Alferaih,Shagufta Sarwar,Ayman Eid
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
Talent turnover and retention
The case of tourism sector organisations in
Saudi Arabia
Adel Alferaih
Department of Quality Management, Ministry of Education, Riyadh,
Saudi Arabia
Shagufta Sarwar
Business Division, Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates, and
Ayman Eid
Department of Business Administration, University of Sadat City,
Sadat City, Egypt
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to understand the direct impact of some of the salient factors from the
talent management (TM) literature (role conflict, extrinsic rewards, and job satisfaction) and the indirect
impact of other factors (organisational commitment, talent retention, and talent engagement) on talent
turnover intention.
Design/methodology/approach A survey questionnaire collected 521 valid responses from employees
holding managerial and non-managerial positions at various levels in 54 five-star hotels in 6 cities in
Saudi Arabia.
Findings Significant support was found for all nine hypotheses formulated to test the relationships among
the seven constructs above. The model was found to explain 68 per cent of variance in talent turnover
Research limitations/implications The study contributes to human resource management literature in
general and TM in particular by examining the different constructs used in the TM models and by
conceptualising a research model, which was empirically validated within the service sector in the context
of Saudi Arabia.
Practical implications The research has several implications for practitioners in the tourism/service
sector in the Middle East, pertaining to the management of talented employees. Specifically, it recommends
that managers should promote training and development scenarios and provide a better work environment to
strengthen individualscommitment to their jobs.
Originality/value This is one of the first studies to examine a comprehensive model of TM in the Arab
world in general and in Saudi Arabia in particular, using data gathered from employees in the tourism sector.
Keywords Talent management, Saudi Arabia, Turnover intention, Talent retention, Hotel industry,
Tourism sector
Paper type Research paper
One of the key challenges managers are facing today is to find methods of reducing
employee turnover particularly the turnover of skilled and talented employees (Meisinger,
2007; Nazarpoori et al., 2017; Ready and Conger, 2007). These employees play a leading role
in organisations, so large amounts of money and time are often invested in their training
and development (Grobler and De Bruyn, 2011). In the competitive and people-oriented
business environment characterising the modern hospitality industry, frontline employee
performance represents a crucial component of service (Karas, 2017; Yang, 2010).
This research explores talent turnover in the context of the hotel industry in Saudi Arabia
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 6 No. 2, 2018
pp. 166-186
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/EBHRM-06-2017-0035
Received 23 June 2017
Revised 6 January 2018
Accepted 13 January 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
and examines a set of relevant constructs and their relationships, because employee
turnover constitutes a critical issue for many hoteliers and academics. Indeed, some
hoteliers consider turnover part of the very culture of the hospitality industry (the so-called
turnover culture). Since no such study has yet been undertaken in the context of the Saudi
hotel industry, this research is the first of its type not only to explain the significance of
certain variables and their effects on talent turnover intention in that industry, but also to
recommend precautions, which the industry could take to minimise turnover. The variables
addressed are organisational commitment (OC), talent engagement (TE), talent retention,
role conflict, job satisfaction, and extrinsic reward; this research explores some of the
relationships among them and their direct and indirect impact on talent turnover intention.
For example, explicit and extrinsic rewards given to employees tend to strengthen their
commitment to the organisation, while lessening the likelihood of conflict with their peers
and thus reducing turnover intention. Stronger OC leads to better TE, which, in turn,
improves both talent retention and job satisfaction. Finally, higher job satisfaction leads to
lower turnover intention, whereas increased role conflict encourages the employees
concerned to leave the organisation.
This research aims to understand the impact of some of the salient factors mentioned in
the talent management (TM) literature on talents turnover behaviour and their retention.
It has three related objectives. First, the paper explores the relevant conceptual and
empirical literature in the area of TM. Second, this study proposes and hypothesises a
research model derived from Bagozzis (1992) framework. Finally, the proposed model is
validated using survey data collected from tourism sector employees in Saudi Arabia.
Based on the study findings, the contribution of this research for theory and its
implications for practice are identified.
Background on the hotel sector in Saudi Arabia
Over the past few decades, tourism has become a worldwide phenomenon. It has been one of
the fastest growing sectors of the world economy and is extensively recognised for its
contribution to regional and national levels of economic development. Tourism is viewed as
a promising sector in providing local employment opportunities and encouraging economic
diversity. For many countries, particularly the ones that are economically developed,
tourism has proved to be a vital component of their economy and well-being, and since the
1970s there has been a noteworthy growth in tourism research in these countries. In recent
years, some developing countries have also improved upon their economic profiles as a
result of the expansion of their tourism industry (Khizindar, 2012).
The development of the tourism sector is viewed as part of the strategy to diversify the
Saudi economy and eventually reduce its dependence on oil, which represents over half of
the countrys GDP. Tourism development in Saudi Arabia has been increasingly recognised
and projected in the literature over the past two decades (Bogari et al., 2004; Kester and
Carvao, 2004; Khizindar, 2012; Rimmawi and Ibrahim, 1992; Sadi and Henderson, 2005;
Zamani-Farahani and Henderson, 2010) and the significant role of the hotel sector in the
Saudi tourism industry cannot be neglected.
Hospitality is now recognised as a global industry, with producers and consumers
spread around the world. In the last two decades, demand for and supply of hospitality
services beyond the traditional services intended for travellers have escalated the growth of
the hospitality industry globally, leading to intense competition in the marketplace
(Kandampully and Suhartanto, 2000). Within hospitality organisations (e.g. hotels),
which have long struggled with high turnover rates and the ability to attract and engage a
workforce with the requisite skills and experience, TM presents a particularly interesting
opportunity (Hughes and Rog, 2008). This research explores the talent perspective
with regard to Saudi five-star hotels, as one of the tourism facilities of the Kingdom.
turnover and

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