An Assessment of Impact of Motivation on Employee Retention

An assessment of the impact of motivation on employee retention in the retail sector: A Case Study of Tesco

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The rationale for the proposed study

Research Questions

Research Objectives

Literature Review

Research Methodology

Research Design

Sources of Data

Primary data collection

Secondary data collection

Study Area


Sampling Techniques

Data Collection Techniques

Research Design

Data Analysis

Barriers and Limitations of the proposed research

Ethical Considerations


The ability to retain a skilled workforce has proved to be a major concern for many organizations, as evidenced by the high levels of employee turnover worldwide. Organizations depend on the expertise of their workforces in order to not only gain a competitive edge in the market but also as a strategy to compete favorably. Nevertheless, recent research findings have revealed that most organizations are finding it very hard to retain their skilled employees owing to the many incentives being offered by the competition (Armstrong 2009). Retention of employees is vital in order to do away with the negative effects of turnover.  Employee turnover refers to the movement of employees outside and inside of the organization (Reiß, 2008). Such movement can have negative or positive consequences on the organization. However, most organizations endeavor to do away with the negative effects of employee turnover as it can threaten its knowledge continuity (Reiß, 2008; Zahorsky, 2010).   The following research proposal is an attempt to examine the impact of motivation on employee retention at 6 Tesco stores in East Midland, the UK.

The rationale for the proposed study

From a strategic context, financial incentives have been seen to be one of the most common forms of motivation used by organizations to ensure employee retention (Vnouckova & Klupakova, 2013). Therefore, undertaking this study would be important in order to determine whether such financial security would be a sufficient motivation factor to entice employees at Tesco to remain. If at all Tesco is to remain sustainable in an otherwise volatile retail industry in the UK, there is a need to retain its most loyal employees. This study endeavors to assess if the present motivation strategies followed by the company are sufficient to help the company achieve the goal..

Employees are the most vital resource of an organization and as such, knowing that they are motivated enough would give the management at Tesco supermarket financial security. Moreover, employees desire to be in an organization where they feel valued and are let to develop their leadership skills (Samuel & Chipuza, 2009). By undertaking this study, the researcher hopes to evaluate if the current employees feel that there is room for growth at Tesco to attain organizational leadership.  Moreover, loyal and high-performance employees can give an organization the much-needed positioning or competitive advantage against its rivals (Nepwanga, 2011).  As such, by conducting this study, it will be interesting to note whether the level of motivation of the employees can help Tesco attain the desired competitive advantage. In addition, highly motivated employees would help reduce high rates of turnover, thereby enhancing the company’s reputation.

From an operational context, Tesco is a key player in the UK retail sector and this calls for the effective supply chain management. When employees are not motivated enough, they are likely to leave the company, in effect affecting the supply chain management. By conducting this study,  the researcher also hopes that the research findings will reveal the important role played by satisfied employees in Tesco’s supply chain. Moreover, motivation of employees reduces employee turnover (Nepwanga, 2011), thereby saving the human resource at Tesco the cost it would have incurred in the form of recruiting new employees. Undertaking this study is also significant in that it will help to reveal how the leadership at Tesco motivates its workforce, and whether this has converted to increased employee retention or reduced employee retention.  Motivated employees are also empowered, meaning that they are likely to deliver quality products and services to customers, leading to satisfied customers. In light of this, it is important to determine whether the level of motivation at Tesco has translated into improved products and services.  Companies that wish to remain competitive in their respective markets often use innovative ways to retain their loyal employees.  Moreover, highly motivated employees also tend to be very innovative. It would be interesting therefore to assess whether the kind of motivation given to employees at Tesco has increased their level of innovation.

Research Questions

  1. What are the factors that motivate employees at Tesco?
  2. What factors would make at employees of Tesco remain with the retain store?
  3. What are some of the factors that would compel an employee of Tesco to leave his post?
  4. What is the impact of motivation on employee retention?
  5. What can the management at Tesco do to motivate their employees and increase retention?

Research Objectives

The main objective of this research study is to determine the impact of employee motivation at Tesco. The following will be the specific objectives of the study:

  • To determine the factors that motivate employees at Tesco
  • To assess the key retention factors of workers at Tesco
  • To evaluate the type of environments likely to contribute to high employee turnover at Tesco
  • To provide recommendations for adoption by stakeholders at Tesco on how to improve employee motivation

Literature Review

The management of any organisation is tasked with the responsibility of motivating its workforce. Suler (2008) and Mintzberg (2006) are the most often cited scholars in as far as the issue of motivation is concerned. Managers have to operationalise the different kinds of motivation. Part of this role entails engaging the subordinates through coaching, mentoring, delegation and performance appraisal, in order to ensure that they behave in accordance with the standards and rules of the organisation (Šuleř 2008).

In an attempt to motivate their staff, La Brosse (2010) states that managers ought to cultivate a workplace culture that ensures the staff are supported in the required direction and time.  Therefore, the management should endeavour to seize all kinds of opportunities in a bid to recognise and encourage their employees.  In the absence of sufficient levels of motivated behaviour, the goals and actions of employees cannot be set up, and neither can they be fulfilled.

According to Šuleř (2008), lack of motivation results in an increase in the outstanding activities. In addition, employees are also less likely to work efficiently. This could encourage employee turnover as they are not performing sufficiency.  Therefore, the manager should see to it that subordinates remain activated.

Niermeyer and Seyffert (2007) and Daigeler (2008) have identified employee motivation as the most vital managerial task. However, Daigeler (2008) further notes that since the fundamental motives are innate to an individual employee, the manager’s dimension to motivate employees are thus limited. Nonetheless, by stimulating employees, a manager can actually help to activate these innate fundamentals of motivation (Daigeler, 2008).  Niermeyer and Seyffert (2007) argue that other people have a lot of influence on the general achievement motivations of an individual. Therefore, there is need for the management to pay close attention to employees in spite of how hard it is to define their internal motives.

Failure by the management to treat employees with respect, appreciate their contribution to the company and the inability to communicate with them will lead too dissatisfied employees (Plamínek 2010).  Lack of motivation among subordinates leads to a decline in their performance levels. Consequently, this could also leads to absenteeism, an increase in physical problems, and imminent turnover problems (Crainer 2004).

La Brosse (2010) notes that it is not hard to get cynical as regards the issue of employees motivation.  Sometimes, an organisation might present motivation statements, principles and slogans to its employees that are out of harmony with the actions of the management or organisation and the mood of the employees. Similar sentiments have also been echoed by  Niermeyer and Seyffert (2007), who also add that motivational speeches rarely work. A number of scholars have identified disharmony with internal motivation as the main cause of employee turnover (Bělohlávek 2008; Jenkins 2009; Ramlall 2004). Maslow’s pyramid of needs applies to employee motivation just as it applies to other facets of life. When an employee feels that a need higher on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has not been fulfilled, they will undoubtedly seek to satisfy another need that ranks lower on Maslow’s pyramid of needs. A very common scenario at the workplace is when an employee feels that their self-development needs have not been met and they thus seek to fulfil their relationship needs  (Bělohlávek, 2008; Mikuláštík, 2007).

In case the employee feels that their relationship needs are still not being met, chances are high that such an employee will inevitably leave her/his jobs, as long as conditions at the workplace are not changed to their favour.  This has prompted a number of scholars to conduct studies on the factors that affects employee job satisfaction, motivation, retention, and/or turnover. Motivation is a central concept in as far as employee retention is concerned. Towards this end, various research studies have been conducted to determine what motivates employee under diverse workplace setting, and the factors that are likely to motivate them and consequentiality, increase their retention rates.

In his study where he sought to determine the impact of career development practices on employees’ turnover intention, Foong-ming (2008) revealed that the nature of an organisation’s practices was a key factor that impacted on employees’ turnover intentions. Moreover, Ming found out that besides improving individual goals, such practices also motivate employees, thereby reducing the turnover rates.

Elsewhere, Bloch (2004) endeavoured to determine the impact of employee job satisfaction on motivation and how this affected their turnover intentions. He found out that job satisfaction not only increases employee motivation, but it also minimises turnover intention. This is supported in a research conducted by Olusegun (2012) which established that there was a closer relationship between job motivation and turnover intention. It further showed that employees would quit their jobs if job positions with better pay and conditions emerged. In this perspective, Olusegun (2012) recommended job motivation to promote satisfaction among the employees. Consequently, organizations would reduce the levels of turnover intentions.  He contends that “Motivation on the job should not be restricted to material gifts, awards of medals and certificates; sponsorships for training should also be introduced” (Olusegun 2012, p. 14).

According to Ahmed (2001), a reward and recognition program can be a very effective strategy to increase employee’s satisfaction and motivation. Ahmed (2001) note that promotion, payment, and working conditions are the key factors that impact on employee’s satisfaction and motivation.  This in turn leads to enhanced performance and employee retention. Moreover, work security is important as a part of motivation strategy. This is because it plays a “vital role in assisting employees in the achievement of organizational objectives such as the rendering of quality service in enhancing customer satisfaction whilst attaining customer retention and loyalty” (Nepwanga 2011, p.53). The implication made is that promising employees work security improves productivity and quality of work done in addition to working towards the achievement of organizational objectives.

Kaiser (2006) sought to determine the link between training programs, employee retention and rates of retention among employees of a Wisconsin-based company. He discovered that proper orientation and training helped to reduce employee’s turnover.  In a separate study, Brum (2007) argues that employee training can be a motivating tool that not only establishes a productive workforce, but also develops committed employees. Such commitment helps to reduce turnover. Although employees training and development is important, it should not be over emphasized. Training and development not only retains employees in the workplace, but it makes them feel appreciated. After training employees, it is advisable to “offer them support systems and then put in place measures to retain them within the organization after undergoing the training and development” (Nepwanga 2011, p. 57).

Borstorff and Marker (2007) sought to determine the retention factors and turnover drivers among hourly workers. The researchers revealed that work/life balance, base pay and health benefits are the key factors that determine turnover and retention rates among hourly workers. Therefore, “More attention should be given to the direct and indirect influences of variables on intention to quit as opposed to the actual act of turnover” (Faustina 2011, p. 59). This is because “intention to quit may be a more important variable than the actual act of turnover” (Faustina 2011, p. 59).

Hackman and Oldham (1980) conducted a study in which the focus was on scientists and employees at educational institutions. The researchers identified six key factors that influence employee turnover.  They are employee level of benefits and compensation, finding meaning in work, employee development and promotion, work safety, the superior style of management, and the manner in which employees relate with their colleagues.

Elsewhere, Pass (2005; as cited by Anderson 2009) has identified respect, relationships, and recognition (the 3R system) as the key factor for employee satisfaction. Other scholars have extended the 3R system by including safety and security at the workplace, remuneration, and appropriate workplace culture as the other important factors that influence employee turnover (Anderson 2009; Branham 2005; Katcher & Snyder 2007).

Ramlall (2004) argues that the motivational factors responsible for employee satisfaction can be divided in accordance with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that is, fulfillment of expectations, treating employees equally, and workplace concept.  The research findings by these studies revealed a low correlation between, on the one hand, the level of employee compensation and on the other hand, employee’s level of satisfaction in the workplace. Consequently, there was a resultant increase in the levels of employee turnover. However, the studies also recommended that organizations should focus on enhancing employee qualifications through training and development programs, provide distinct specifications as regards the meaning of the content f a certain position, and also improve employees’ competencies.

Employees are likely to get frustrated in case the organization fails to fulfill their expected basic working conditions (Deiblová 2005; Bělohlávek 2008; Kocianová, 2010). By opting to leave a job, an employee will have endured a very stressful situation, he or she is also likely to have been frustrated with the working conditions of the organization for a very long time (Kolman 2003; Linhart 2003).

Research Methodology


The way in which the techniques of a research study are engaged and how they are applied could have a significant impact of the research findings of such a study. Consequently, there is a need for the research to exercise wisdom in choosing the methodology for his/her research study as this would enable the easy collection of data and its subsequent analysis (Kumekpor 2002). For this reason, it becomes important that the researcher devises reliable methods of data collection in order to ensure dependable, predictive, and tenable results. This section reports on the various sources of data for the current study and the various techniques used to collect this data.  In describing the techniques used in data collection, the researcher hopes that the reader of the study will acknowledge the specific limitations and strengths of the study.

Research Design

Qualitative research is concerned with the how and why aspects of decision-making, as opposed to just the where, when, and what. Also, with qualitative research, the researcher is in a better position to collect information pertaining to the specific cases in question. The current study is concerned with determining the impact of motivation on employee motivation, and this kind of information can be obtained within the confines of a qualitative study.

Sources of Data

The current study hopes to make use of primary as well as secondary sources of data.

Primary data collection

To collect primary data, the research will make use of semi-structured questionnaires. Questions in the questionnaire shall be both open-ended and close-ended in nature.

Secondary data collection

In order to collect secondary data, the researcher will rely on the use of publications on the topics of motivation and employee retention, books, peer-reviewed article journals, unpublished manuscripts, newspapers, and other credible writings.

Study Area

The study will be limited to Tesco UK Ltd. Specifically; the study will target 6 Tesco stores in East Midlands. The reason why Tesco was chosen is that it is the current market leader in the UK retail sector where it enjoys a 30% market share.  Therefore, by determining the impact of motivation on employees’ retention at Tesco, the study hopes to illuminate the trend in the larger retail sector in the UK.  The six Tesco stores are located on Stoke-On-Trent, Liverpool Rd, Bilston Lane, Willenhall, Whart Road, Ellesmere, Best Avenue, Burton-On-Trent, London Rd, Worcester, and Alfreton Rd, Nottingham.


The population for the current study shall consist of all employees working for Tesco UK Ltd. However, the study will only be limited to employees of Tesco from the six aforementioned branches.

Sampling Techniques

A sample is the target group or individuals who represent the entire population being interviewed.  Since it would be impossible to interview everybody for this study, owing to time and financial constraints, the study proposes to use a total of 60 respondents for the current study. This means that each of the six chosen branches of Tesco will have 10 respondents taking part in the study. The proposed sample size has been arrived at owing to financial constraints, being that the researcher is not in a position to hire research assistants who would assist in data collection. In order to select the study’s respondents, the researcher will make use of the simple random sampling technique.  This technique was chosen as it increases the probability of every member of the population being part of the sample (Cochran 2007).

Data Collection Techniques

The researcher intends to use a questionnaire as the tool for data collection. Not only is a questionnaire easy to administer, but it also enables the researcher to collect much data in a very short time (Khan 2011).  Kumekpor (2002) further observes that questionnaires enable the researcher to give coherence, organization, and direction to the project. In addition, questionnaires give the boundaries of the project. Moreover, questionnaires can be easily used, scored, and coded, thereby facilitating data analysis. The researcher intends to use a questionnaire with both closed-ended and open-ended questions. Open-ended questions will enable the respondents to give their views on a number of issues raised by the questionnaire.

Research Design

            The study will assume a social survey design.  This will enable the researcher to easily gather data from the target audience by eliminating the larger population.  Using surveys, a researcher can also select smaller sample sizes and still generalize the findings to the larger population (Gideon 2012). In this way, the research becomes efficient, albeit less expensive.

Data Analysis

Secondary data is firstly analyzed through the literature review section of the research study in order to provide an overview of the existing body of research based on motivation strategies already in existence.  Secondary data shall be utilized extensively through the literature review in order to develop an idea of the current depth of research relating to the impact of motivation on employee retention in the retail sector.

Prior to data analysis, the researcher will first edit the questionnaires in trying to ascertain the consistency, accuracy, and suitability of the information given by the study’s respondents. In this way, the researcher can always contact some of the respondents should the need arise to clarify a number of issues. In addition, there is the possibility that some of the respondents may have left a number of questions unanswered. Therefore, such an exercise would give them a chance to do so. Once the editing has been completed, the individual edited questionnaires shall be assigned specific serial numbers for eases of identification while coding data. In addition, assigning serial numbers to the questionnaires will also enable the researcher to recheck information from individual questionnaires at the data entry stage.  Thereafter, the researcher will extract the open-ended questions from the questionnaires and code these as well.

For purposes of data analysis, the use shall be made of the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social sciences) computer software. SPSS has found widespread application in the analysis of data in social sciences.  Moreover, the package affords the researcher flexibility and eases in the generation of desired percentages and frequencies of coded data, thereby making it easier to interpret the research findings. Data analysis and interpretations shall be accomplished through the use of frequencies and tables.

            The use shall also be made of Microsoft Excel tool to generate bar graphs, tables, and pie charts.

Barriers and Limitations of the proposed research

The fact that the proposed research study will be explorative in nature means that it shall be faced with several limitations. The research will aim at determining the effect of motivation on employee retention in the retail sector, with Tesco UK Ltd being the case study.  Although the study will be narrowed down to 6 specific Tesco Supermarket stores in East Midlands, not all the employees at the said stores will be participants. The study only hopes to cover the subordinate staff, meaning that management of the retail chain will not be included. Secondly, owing to limited resources and time, the study only hopes to include 60 respondents. The study also anticipates that the time taken by the respondents to fill out the questionnaire and return it will be longer than expected. This is because employees in the retail store are always busy attending to customers and hence may not find time to complete the questionnaires. This will effectively delay the process of data collection.

Ethical Considerations

Every researcher who aspires to carry out a study with humans as his subjects should be expected to deal with ethical issues. Researchers and scholars have over the years reached a general consensus as regards the improper or proper way of carrying out any scientific research. Towards this end, the most significant ethical understanding that predominates in social research are voluntary participation of respondents, deception, anonymity, and confidentiality. Harm to the respondents is also another ethical agreement worth consideration.  Researchers need to ensure that they deal with all of these aforementioned ethical concerns while collecting data. In the current study, the researcher will ensure that none of the respondents will be harmed by revealing any information that is likely to embarrass her/him. Secondly, the researcher will see to its that all the respondents have been sufficiently educated on the issues under investigation and the purpose of the research study. Moreover, the researcher will inform all the respondents that their participation in the study is voluntary and that they would be free to leave the study at any point. In addition, the researcher will endeavor to assure all the respondents of complete confidentiality and anonymity. To achieve this, the researcher will ensure that the true identities of all the respondents have been concealed by replacing their actual names with code words.  Finally, in order to assure all the respondents that they are taking part in a genuine research study, the researcher will reveal the student’s identity card to all the respondents, along with the letter from the university’s ethical committee that authorizes researches of this kind.  By using these techniques, the researcher hopes to ensure the objectivity and neutrality of the research, in effect ensuring that the study’s research findings remain a true representation of the respondents’ opinions.

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