Employee Job Satisfaction and Job Retention

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Job satisfaction has become a major issue among employees as workers struggle to find working environment where they can feel comfortable. According to Allen and Wilburn (2002), most of the employers in both public and private sectors have ignored the need to ensure that employees are satisfied with their environment. Most of the employees are always exposed to a working environment are always exposed to a working environment that do not meet their needs. This may be attributed to the fact that for the past years, the concern of many employees has been to find any employment opportunity that may help them sustain their families.

For this reason, many employers did not bother to offer good working environment for their employees. Most of them were forced to work in dehumanizing environment with very harsh environmental conditions. Job satisfaction was very low among most employees in various sectors. Kuballa (2007) defines job satisfaction as “The level of contentment a person feels regarding their job.” It means that a satisfied employee is always contented and happy with the current working environment and conditions.

An employee who is satisfied with his or her job will most likely consider retaining the job for a very long time. This is because he or she is comfortable with the current conditions. The public sector is one of the largest single employers in the United Arab Emirate, with about 37 percent of the total population employed in this sector. Starling (2011) defines public sector as institutions that are wholly or partly owned and run by the government at the federal or local level. This means that employees in the public sector are those working for the government at the federal or local level. Employee job satisfaction is an issue that has been analyzed by various scholars to determine how well the government of United Arab Emirates can retain its employees. In this study, the focus is to determine employee job satisfaction and job retention in the public sector in the United Arab Emirates.

Research problem

In the United Arab Emirates, the government employs about 37% of the total number of employees, leaving the other 63% to the private sector. The Federal Government of UAE employs about 8%, the local governments 11%, joint federal-local departments 4%, while the other 14% work in other government related institutions (Kronberg, 2011). This makes the government one of the leading employers in the country. According to the recent reports by Gaurav (2013), there has been a rise in the number of government employees who are shifting from their jobs to other employment opportunities. The statistics show that the both the federal and the local governments have been unable to retain their employees. Some scholars have clearly stated that the reason behind the exodus of employees from government institutions to the private sector can be attributed to job dissatisfaction in the public sector.

Employees do not get the satisfaction they need in this sector, making them to quit their jobs to look for it elsewhere. This raises concerns because the government needs highly talented and knowledgeable employees who can participate in the development of the country. Government agencies need qualified staff that can address various issues within the economy. When employees cannot be retained within government agencies, then it means that the public sector will be forced to hire individuals with limited knowledge who can work under such unfavourable working environments. This will compromise the quality of work in these government departments. It is based on this that the researcher found it necessary to conduct this research to identify some of the factors which make public sector unattractive to some of the employees making them consider other employment opportunities in the private sector.

Research questions

In every research, it is always important to develop research questions that will define the process of collecting data. In this study, the researcher developed the research questions below.

  • How frequently do the employees in the public sectors change their jobs?
  • What are some of the reasons why public employees change job too often?
  • What is the meaning of the word ‘employee job satisfaction’?
  • What is the meaning of the word ‘job retention’?
  • What is the public sector?
  • In what way can there be job retention in an organization with employee satisfaction?
  • What is the relationship between job retention and employee satisfaction?

The researcher seeks to respond to the above questions by reviewing the available literatures on this topic and conducting a survey to collect primary data that will be used to back the findings of the secondary data.

Research hypotheses

In a piece of research, hypotheses are important because they are the preposition of the researcher about specific issues of the research. In this study, the researcher developed three research hypotheses based on the research questions above.

  • H1. Employees in the public sector change their jobs quite often
  • H2. Employees in the public sector change their jobs too often because of lack of job satisfaction
  • H3. Employee satisfaction is directly proportional to job retention.

The above three hypotheses will be confirmed or rejected based on the information that will be gathered from the literatures and the data from the survey.

Literature Review

The field of employee satisfaction and job retention has attracted attention of many scholars who are interested in finding why some firms always outperform others even in cases where they appear to have a similar market environment. Novikova (2009) says that employee satisfaction can only exist when the employee feels that the employer is taking care of his or her social, economic and emotional needs. These three needs must always be fulfilled in order to achieve maximum satisfaction. The first factor is meeting the economic needs. This involves good remuneration that is commensurate to the output of the employees.

According to Grigoroudis and Siskos (2010), many people always assume that good remuneration is the only factor that would define employee satisfaction. However, the truth is that it is just an important component of this satisfaction. It is one of the factors that may make an employee move from one employment opportunity to the other. The employer must be able to classify the employees based on their skills, knowledge, and importance to the organisation. In the public sector, the government must ensure that its employees are properly remunerated based on their qualifications and relevance within the organization. This will help in meeting the needs of the employees, increasing their level of satisfaction as employees of the organization.

Social needs form another important factor that must be considered when analysing employee satisfaction. According to Kusluvan (2003), good remunerations alone may not form the basis of employee satisfaction. At times it may be necessary to ensure that the social needs of the employees are met. These social needs may vary because of a number of reasons. Woodside, (2008) describes employee’s social needs as the necessities that should be met by the employer other than the financial benefits. This may be in the form of holidays. Employees may need some time to rest after a long period of work.

The management unit must ensure that the holidays for the employees are clearly defined so that none is subjected to unnecessarily long period of work. The overtime should also be based on choice. This means that the employee will be given the liberty to chose whether or not he or she will work for the overtime. This makes them feel that their rights are protected and that the management respects their freedom. Sometimes there may be a need for a sick-leave when the employee gets sick and is unable to work (Hernon & Whitman, 2000). The emergency leave may also be necessary in cases where a close relative of the employee falls sick or dies and the presence of the employee is needed.

The third factor is also as important as the other three factors, but it is always ignored by many employers, especially those who are in the public sector. The emotional needs of the employees should be met adequately in order to ensure that they remain motivated in their work. The emotional need may come from various forms. One of the most common emotional tortures that an employer may subject the employee to is the constant pressure to achieve specific goals that are beyond the capacity of the employee. This is very common in cases where an employee is assigned a wrong task that does not reflect on his or her knowledge and skills. For example, in some government hospitals, it is common to see a nurse-aide being assigned a task of a registered nurse.

A nurse-aide is specialized in helping the surgeons in the theatres. However, when they are assigned the task of a registered nurse who specializes with dealing with patients who have been admitted, it becomes difficult to deliver good results (Griffeth & Hom, 2001). It is also common to find a situation where a messenger is assigned clerical duties in a government office. The messenger may not perform as well as the secretary.

When the manager demands for output that is similar to that of a professional office secretary, the messenger will get stressed. This emotional torture may make the employee’s output slow down further, a fact that may raise criticism from the employer. This would lead to dissatisfaction of the employee. Denying an employee a promotion that he or she deserves and considering a less deserving employee for that post may also constitute dissatisfaction. Constant criticism of the employees without offering solutions or giving positive guidance may also make employees dissatisfied in the workplace. Some employers often disregard the needs of the employees, making it difficult for them to enjoy the workplace environment.

According to Albrecht (2010) employees in the public sector often change their jobs because of lack of satisfaction in this sector. Most of the private institutions know how to take care of the three factors, making their employees more satisfied. Given that there is a direct relationship between employee satisfaction and job retention, whenever an employee feels dissatisfied, he or she will consider shifting to other jobs that are more satisfying.


In every research, it is always necessary to define the methodology that would be used to arrive at some findings. In this research, the sources of data were taken from the primary and secondary sources. The secondary sources of data were taken from books, scholarly journals and other reliable online sources. This has been reviewed in the chapter above. The primary data was gathered from a survey and a direct interview with ten employees who have had the chance to work in the public and private sector. The survey on the other hand, was focused on analysing the number of employees shifting from public institutions to private institutions and vice versa. The research took the phenomenological approach of analysing data. The data from the field were analysed and presented in a graphical presentation as shown in the next section.


The researcher obtained data from the interview of the ten employees and from various departments within the federal government of the United Arab Emirates. The results have been presented in form of graphs to ease the process of interpretation. The figure below show the level of satisfaction in the private and public sectors based on the three parameters identified during the literature review.

Levels of satisfaction in the public and private sectors based on the three parameters.
Levels of satisfaction in the public and private sectors based on the three parameters.

From the data presented above, it is clear that the private sector offers better remuneration that the public sector. This could be one of the reasons why many employees are quitting the public sector for the private sector. They could be looking for better remunerations. The graph above also shows that the private sector performs much better than the government sector in addressing emotional needs of their employees. They know how to address these emotional needs in order to minimise their dissatisfaction. Government only outperforms the private sector in offering better social needs, especially holidays. This alone may not be able to help retain employees in this sector. The figure below shows a graphical presentation of the data gathered concerning the retention rate of employees in public and private sectors.

Retention Rate of Employees in Public and Private Sector.
Retention Rate of Employees in Public and Private Sector.

From the figure above, it is clear that the private sector has a higher capacity of retaining younger employees within the age of 18 to 45 years. This is the active age where employees are always energetic and very creative. This means that all the creativity and innovativeness of the employees will always end in the private sector. It is unfortunate that the government has a higher capacity to retain old employees who are aged over 45 years. Although this group of employees has enough experience in their respective fields, experience alone cannot constitute success in the current competitive world. There is a need to come up with new items and approaches. It can only be achieved through the innovative generation of the youth.


Job satisfaction level of the employees in the public sector

Job satisfaction among employees in the public sector has become an issue of concern as there has been an increase in the number of employees shifting to the private sector in the United Arab Emirates. The federal government of the United Arab Emirates has been coming up with policies that are meant to improve employee job satisfaction in the public sector. According (Lindenau-Stockfisch, 2011), the public sector currently offers better social needs that the private sector. Employees in the public sector enjoy longer holidays than those in the private sector.

They can easily get fully-paid leaves whenever they are sick or when there is a need to attend to the urgent needs of their family members. However, this has not been enough in making the sector attractive because of its low remuneration levels, and its inability to take care of the emotional needs of the employees. According to Tata (2010), the satisfaction level of employees in the public sector is relatively lower than that of those in the private sector. This is so because the private sector offers better remunerations and knows how to take care of the emotional needs of the employees. The two graphs shown above confirm that out of the three factors of employee job satisfaction, the private sector performs better than public sector in two of them. This superiority makes the private sector to be more attractive in this country.

Relationship between job satisfaction and job retention

The information presented in the two graphs shows that there is a close relationship between job satisfaction and job retention. The first graph shows that employees find more satisfying factors in the private sector than in the public sector (McKeown, 2002). The second graph shows that the public sector has a lower capacity to retain its employees than the private sector. This means that job satisfaction plays an important role in defining job retention. An employee who is satisfied with his job is more likely to retain the job than an employee who is not satisfied.

Benefits of keeping an employee in the long run

The ability to retain employees comes with numerous benefits. The more an employee works in a given field, the more the knowledge he or she becomes better at that particular task, and the better the output. It means that when the public sector lacks the ability to retain its employees, it will be unable to enjoy the benefits of an experienced workforce. The ability to retain the younger employees also improves chances of the organisation to be innovative when addressing various issues, increasing chances of success.


The discussion above has clearly demonstrated that employee job satisfaction in the public sector within the United Arab Emirates is low, making employees shift from public sector to the private sector. In order to satisfy employees in the workplace, it is important to look at the three components of job satisfaction. The public sector is performing in only one component which is the social needs. However, is poor when addressing emotional needs and remuneration. This explains why the sector has been unable to retain its young and innovative employees, leaving it with the aging employees. This jeopardizes the capacity of this sector to address emerging issues using innovative solutions.


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