The general problem is federal government retirements and turnover attrition rates are increasing as the baby boomer generation retires, which is almost 30% of the U.S. population (Gibaldi, 2013/2014). Human resource departments are searching for ways to retain employees using workplace flexibilities, such as telework (Caillier, 2013). Telework is defined as working from home, a satellite office, a telework center or any other work station outside of
the main office where work is normally performed for at least one day per work week (Martin & MacDonnell, 2012).
Caillier (2013) stated, federal government employee turnover is a significant concern as training and recruiting employees increase costs and decrease organizational performance. The Office of Personnel Management was tasked with the responsibility of providing ongoing guidance to agencies on how to improve retention (Caillier, 2013). The specific problem is retention of federal government baby boomer generation through telework to increase employee retention and strengthen organizational commitment (Martin & MacDonnell, 2012).
The purpose of this qualitative case study is to explore perceptions of federal managers on workplace flexibilities, such as telework, in maintaining organizational hiring levels to reduce employee turnover and strengthen organizational commitment. This study will also seek to explore perceptions of federal baby boomer generational employees on workplace flexibilities, such as telework, and increasing employee retention and strengthening organizational commitment to their specific agency.
Contribution to Knowledge
The results of this study may demonstrate if telework initiatives or other workplace flexibilities will assist in keeping baby boomers from retiring to retain talent management and allow for knowledge transfer to the younger Generation Y employees entering the workforce behind them.
Federal employees considered that fall into the category of the baby boomer generation will be surveyed along with managers that supervise any baby boomers. The research question and sub-questions are provided below.
RQ: What are the perceptions of federal managers and baby boomer generational employees on telework and increasing employee retention and strengthening organizational commitment?
SQ1: What are the perceptions of federal managers on telework and increasing employee retention?
SQ2: What are the perceptions of federal managers on telework and strengthening organizational commitment?
SQ3: What are the perceptions of baby boomer generational employees on telework and increasing employee retention?
SQ4: What are the perceptions of baby boomer generational employees on telework and strengthening organizational commitment?
This study will seek to use a qualitative analysis methodology using an interpretivist paradigm. This will be a case study within the context of using open-ended explanatory questions and a focus group. Federal employee managers and baby boomer employees will be queried to share their perceptions regarding telework and increasing employee retention and strengthening organizational commitment.
Qualitative research addresses practical and intellectual goals that fit inductive, open-ended strategies (Maxwell, 2012). Maxwell (2012) pointed out results and theories are understandable and experientially credible for the researcher and the participants. Qualitative methodology utilizes researcher-participant dialogue, interviews, and observations and inductive reasoning to come to conclusions (Morgan, 2014; Ponterotto, 2005). The qualitative approach focuses on processes and inquiry into specific situations to generate data that provide insight into a phenomenon of interest. The role of the researcher is to engage with the participants and the research objective is to explore, discover, and construct a synopsis of results. The scientific method is centered around exploratory findings and a bottom-up approach that begins with a general concept which evolve into a specific description. (Raines, 2013). Since this formative study will research retention and organizational commitment for a federal organization the results should be understandable and credible after completion to share with senior leaders. The study can be utilized for future research as a tool for retention planning models.
Quantitative approach is not appropriate for this study as this methodology focuses on proving or disproving hypotheses through validation. Ponterotto (2005) stated, there is one true reality with quantitative research that is apprehendable, identifiable, and measurable. This type of research is often used to capture statistics on societal problems. If this study was seeking to determine how many baby boomers were leaving the organization and statistical data to prove that hypothesis rather than determining if specific workplace flexibilities can be utilized to retain their knowledge and organizational commitment, then this method would have been advantageous.
The qualitative research methodology and exploratory qualitative approach using case studies and focus groups will be the research design chosen for this study. This methodology and design will enable the researcher to explore how the experiences of participants including managers who supervise baby boomers or the baby boomer employees themselves in determining if telework or other workplace initiatives assist in retaining them in the federal organization and/or assisting in strengthening organizational commitment. The qualitative approach clearly defined the work setting of the participants who addressed this phenomenon, which made this the right fit for the study.
The exploratory case study will highlight the experiences of those who have encountered regular and reoccurring telework arrangements. This study is intended to look primarily at the participants’ subjective experiences. Thomas (2013) suggested there are three kinds of study: retrospective, snapshot and diachronic. The retrospective study involves the collection of data relating to a past phenomenon of any kind. The snapshot case study is being examined in one defined period of time: a current event; a day in the life of a person. The diachronic study shows how changes may have happened over time, revealing how and why those changes may have happened.
The research will focus on a sample of participants by 1) interviewing employees having a minimum of one year of telework arrangements, 2) administering the initial questionnaire based on the literature review and the purpose of the study, 3) engaging in follow-up interview questions to gain a better understanding of the participants’ experiences, and 4) considering developing trends, and analysis of data collected into themes.
Caillier, J. G. (2013). Teleworkers less likely to report leave intentions in the united states federal government than non-teleworkers are? James Gerard American Review of Public Administration 43(1), 72-88. doi: 10.1177/0275074011425084
Gibaldi, C. P. (2013/2014). The changing trends of retirement: Baby boomers leading the charge. Review of Business 34(1), 50-57. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/96706153/changing-trends-retirement-baby-boomers-leading-charge
Hurd, D. A. (2010). Comparing teleworker performance, satisfaction, and retention in the joint interoperability test command (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (Order No. 3420039).
Martin, B. K. & MacDonnell, R. (2012). Is telework effective for organizations? A meta-analysis of empirical research on perceptions of telework and organizational outcomes. Management Research Review 35(7), 602-616. doi: 10.1108/01409171211238820
Office of Personnel Management, Guide to Telework in the Federal Government (2011). Retrieved from https://www.telework.gov/guidance-legislation/telework-guidance/telework-guide/guide-to-telework-in-the-federal-government.pdf
Okla, E. (2015). A case study to explore ways flexible work arrangements hinder or increase an employee’s job satisfaction (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (Order No. 3733949).
Maxwell, J.A. (2012). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. (3rd ed.)Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Morgan, D. L. (2014). Pragmatism as a paradigm for social research. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(8), 1045-1053.
Ponterotto, J. G. (2005). Qualitative research in counseling psychology: A primer on research paradigms and philosophy of science. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 126-136.
Raines, D. A. (2013). Research Paradigms and Methods. Neonatal Network 32(6), 425-428.
Thomas, G. (2013). Methodology Part 2: The Design Frame. (2013). In G. Thomas, How to Do Your Research Project (pp. 132-190). Thousand Oaks, California 91320: SAGE Publications Inc.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Status of Telework in the Federal Government Report to Congress Fiscal Year 2016. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.telework.gov/reports-studies/reports-to-congress/2017-report-to-congress.pdf
Vitry, M. J. (2013). Confluence of factors on leaders’ decisions to implement a telework program: A qualitative multiple case study (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (Order No. 3578586).
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