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VOLUME I – December 2019
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A Study of the Current Retention Strategies Followed by Employers for Satisfying Employees of Travel Agencies/Tour Operators of Pune City, India

Introduction

Travel and Tourism being one of the world’s largest economic sectors creates jobs, drives exports and generates prosperity across the world. It is a labor-intensive industry having a major dominance of service sector. Hence, it is one of the major categories of service industry that attracts international trade. As per the World Travel & Tourism Council (2019) report, tourism accounted for 10.4 % of world’s GDP and 319 million jobs, or 10 % of total employment in 2018. On lines of the global trend, tourism industry in India is on an upsurge at the moment. As per WTTC (2019) report for India, travel & tourism sector contribution to GDP was 16.91 lakh crore (US$ 240 billion) in 2018 (9.2 % of GDP) which supported around 42.673 million jobs (8.1 %) of its total employment. The tourism industry comprises of various subsectors like hotels, travel agencies, airlines, car rentals, cruise companies, etc. It gives employment to a large number of people ranging from the unskilled to highly specialized.

 

The tourism industry being a people centric industry is highly dependent on human resources, as tourism is not just about visiting places of interests but also about the services provided to a tourist at the destination. No tourist can have a successful trip without human element. Today the tourism industry is growing rapidly due to advent in technology, higher disposable income and awareness which has resulted in greater demand for quality staff.

 

The tourism industry needs human resource who is educated, well-trained, qualified, bright energetic, multi-lingual with entrepreneurial skill to manage the tourism business (Rebecca, 1998; Khan, 2008). But it is seen that the tourism industry faces various challenges in this aspect; one of the crucial issues is the quality of manpower. In order to achieve this, industry requires trained /skilled manpower having vocational training in tourism (Chand & Chauhan, 2003; Bécherel, 2001) which caters the multi segmented and heterogeneous products and changing technology in the international tourism market (Raj, 2008).

 

Review of Literature

 

The term retention can be defined as “a systematic effort to create and foster an environment that encourages employees to remain employed by having policies and practices in place that address their diverse needs” (Workforce Planning for Wisconsin State Government, 2005)

According to Chaminade (2006), Retention is a voluntary move by the employers which create an environment to engage employees for maximum period of time”. Okiogo (2012) on the other hand states that retention refers to the employees’ willingness to stay in a particular organization and the ability of the organization to maintain its employees in service. Chiboiwa, Samuel and Chipunza (2010) elaborate that retention is ‘to prevent the loss of competent employees from leaving productivity and profitability’.

According to Harvard Business Essentials, employee retention is the ‘converse of turnover -turnover being the sum of voluntary and involuntary separations between an employee and his or her company’ (Starosta, 2006).

In simple terms employee retention can be termed as policies and practices which organizations use to prevent skilled and competent employees from leaving their job. It relates to taking measures so that employees are satisfied and remain in the organization for the longest period of time. The main purpose of retention is to avoid the loss of skilled employees from the firm as this could have undesirable effect on output and delivery of service. Many a times when employees switch over to other organizations in search of career growth and better salary, they take with them the trade secrets and product knowledge acquired from their former employer, and thus creates a critical situation for the latter (Abbasi & Hollman, 2000).

Thus, it can be stated that “retention is not a human resource issue but a management issue” (Rowh, 2004). By implementing strategies for employee retention, managers can reduce the amount of voluntary turnover. It is an important part for the success of any organization and this begins by giving importance on the selection process in general and the interviewing process in particular, so as to select the highest quality (Camp, Vielhaber & Simonetti, 2002)

Different researchers have suggested various retention methods; Krueger and Rouse (1998) found that incentive programs, praise, recognition, and ongoing opportunities for development improve employee retention. Other researchers have opined that remuneration is the key to retention in the service industry. A planned career path with opportunities for promotion and job challenges would help to retain most employees who were considering leaving (Ineson & Berechet, 2011).

Common retention programs include internal promotion, training, health schemes, professional development and performance bonuses (Brien, 2004). Some researchers also suggested that retention strategies like creating an internal career path and opportunities for employees, empowerment of workers, changing management style from autocratic to decisive, linking payment with productivity, monitoring employee satisfaction, providing greater organizational support and training, establishing buddy/mentor programs, effectively communicate organizational mission and goals, fostering a strong relationship with seasonal employees, and job enlargement by cross-training and cross-utilization of existing staff would be of great help (Brien, 2004;  Walsh & Taylor, 2007; Walters & Raybould, 2007).

 

Among these, monitoring employee satisfaction is very important. Tamara, Bojana and Mirjana (2014) state that employee satisfaction is a complex attitude involving certain assumptions and beliefs about the job (cognitive component), feelings towards the job (affective component) and evaluation (evaluative component). If employers want to seek a balance for productivity and the individual achievement-oriented practices for employees like satisfaction of individual needs related to lifestyle and flexible work scheduling must be adopted (Agarwal & Ferratt, 2001)

 

Yavas et al. (2011) in their study found that employees expect their organization to recognize and reward their efforts and if rewards were ignored, employees’ turnover intentions increased and their attachment to the organization reduced. Shakeela et al. (2011) suggested that government should establish minimum wages, work conditions, and workplace health and safety regulations to protect, and attract the local labor market. Tourism industry itself should give a minimum remuneration package; improve employee facilities, and work conditions according to national and international human rights standards.

 

Statement of Problem

 

The 2015 WTTC report on Global Talent Trends and Issues for the travel and tourism sector mentions that over half of the WTTC member companies are experiencing difficulty in hiring staff for highely skilled and more professional roles. The travel agencies are finding it difficult to recruit and retain quality staff. India faces a similar problem too. Though Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has planned and executed several HRD schemes for emphasizing knowledge, skill and capacity building programs, still it faces major problems like shortage of qualified and skilled manpower, training infrastructure especially qualified trainers, working conditions and improper implementation of policy. To tackle these issues, the government is emphasizing on “Skill India” campaign for availing skilled human resource to match up demand and supply gaps.

 

Ragde (2019) argues that most of the travel agencies in India are unorganized. There are only 1052 travel agencies and tour operating companies in India, nearly 90% of the travel trade business do not employ the trained manpower and is underpaid which has led to the problem of retention of employees and increase the employee turnover.

 

The sample for this research paper is Pune city which is a major commercial city of Maharashtra after Mumbai. The city is also referred to as the cultural capital of Maharashtra. It is famous for its religious places, various forts associated with the Great Maratha King, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Shaniwar Wada of the Peshwa rulers besides many other nearby attractions.  Today, the city has its place on the world map because of its educational, research, and development institutions. Pune has large number of travel agencies to cater to the huge number of outbound and business clientele.

Biwal and Roday (2013) focused on the retention issues of large, medium and small size travel agencies at Pune, in which they focused on the problems faced by the employers in hiring right employees, with practical knowledge or enough experience. Candidates preferred branded travel agencies over small travel agencies which ultimately affected recruiting good human resource at Pune. Sawant (2019) focused on the lack of innovations in travel business in Maharashtra especially in Pune and Aurangabad city who have ample of scope for tourism development. The main concern is the ignorance of motivating the human resources in travel agencies with innovating ideas to increase the business productivity and loyalty.

 

After having interacted with the human resource managers of some travel agencies / tour operator companies in Pune city it was found that there was a need to study the various strategies followed by them to retain their staff. On the other hand, after an extensive literature survey it was found that none of the researchers had undertaken studies on this aspect which in itself came out to be a huge research gap. Hence this research aims to study the retention strategies of travel agencies/tour operator companies having different ownership patterns.

 

Research Design

 

Objective:

  1. To analyze the current retention strategies followed by employers for satisfying employees of travel agencies/tour operators of Pune city.
  2. To study the most prominent issues related to the Retention of staff in future.

 

Hypothesis:

There is no significant difference in the retention strategies followed by the employers of the travel agencies/tour operators having different ownership pattern of Pune city.

 

Sample and data collection:

 

For this study, primary data was collected from 47 Human resource managers/directors/ Branch Managers/proprietors from recognized travel agencies of Ministry of Tourism (MOT), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), with the help of simple random sampling method. The data was collected from October 2018 to April 2019. Questionnaire was used as a research tool to study how satisfied the employees are with the retention strategies used by the sample travel agencies to retain employees with the help of likert scale for which 1=highly dissatisfied, 2= Dissatisfied, 3= Neutral, 4= Satisfied, 5= extremely satisfied. Using the same sample, data for the second objective related to prominent issues related to the retention of staff in future, an interview schedule was developed and interpreted descriptively.

Table No 1. Profile of Travel Agencies/Tour Operators of Pune City

 

Variable along with Values Number of Respondents %  of Respondents
Company Type
Indian 41 87.2
MNC 6 12.8
Ownership Type
Sole Proprietorship 12 25.5
Partnership 3 6.4
Company Ltd. 32 68.1

                 

Source: Field Survey

 

Analysis:

One way ANOVA test was applied using SPSS (see Table.2)

 

Table No. 2: ANOVA Test Retention Strategies used by Travel Agencies

 

Retention strategies followed by employers (ANOVA)
Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Offering better salary than other competitive firms to deserving employees Between Groups .070 3 .023 .035 .991
Within Groups 28.909 43 .672
Total 28.979 46
Providing access to transport for employees Between Groups 1.365 3 .455 .646 .590
Within Groups 30.295 43 .705
Total 31.660 46
Providing pension scheme to employees Between Groups 6.229 3 2.076 1.882 .147
Within Groups 47.431 43 1.103
Total 53.660 46
Offering competitive bonus / incentives in the form of cash to deserving employees Between Groups 2.127 3 .709 .655 .584
Within Groups 46.511 43 1.082
Total 48.638 46
Offering incentives in the form of gift vouchers, family tours Between Groups 1.729 3 .576 .528 .665
Within Groups 46.909 43 1.091
Total 48.638 46
Giving good maternity / paternity / adoption leave Between Groups 4.833 3 1.611 1.883 .147
Within Groups 36.784 43 .855
Total 41.617 46
Providing child / elder care support to employees Between Groups 2.856 3 .952 .752 .527
Within Groups 54.420 43 1.266
Total 57.277 46
Having mediclaim insurance scheme for employees Between Groups 3.762 3 1.254 1.711 .179
Within Groups 31.514 43 .733
Total 35.277 46
Providing safety and security to employees Between Groups .312 3 .104 .137 .937
Within Groups 32.667 43 .760
Total 32.979 46
Acknowledging and giving rewards for good work done by employees to motivate them Between Groups .957 3 .319 .498 .685
Within Groups 27.511 43 .640
Total 28.468 46
Organizing induction and orientation programme for new employees Between Groups 1.173 3 .391 .447 .721
Within Groups 37.635 43 .875
Total 38.809 46
Arranging training programs regularly for its front line employees, managers to enhance their leadership, communication and interpersonal skills Between Groups .160 3 .053 .064 .978
Within Groups 35.500 43 .826
Total 35.660 46
Having job rotation Between Groups 6.228 3 2.076 1.730 .175
Within Groups 51.602 43 1.200
Total 57.830 46
Supporting employees for their higher education Between Groups 4.678 3 1.559 1.869 .149
Within Groups 35.875 43 .834
Total 40.553 46
Providing a mentor / counsellor to employees Between Groups 4.122 3 1.374 1.172 .332
Within Groups 50.431 43 1.173
Total 54.553 46
Offering challenging assignments and opportunities to employees Between Groups .287 3 .096 .161 .922
Within Groups 25.628 43 .596
Total 25.915 46
Giving independence and autonomy to employees in performing tasks Between Groups .070 3 .023 .048 .986
Within Groups 20.909 43 .486
Total 20.979 46
Allowing employees to participate in the decision making process Between Groups .195 3 .065 .085 .968
Within Groups 32.784 43 .762
Total 32.979 46
Offering flexible working hours to employees for suitable work life balance Between Groups 10.524 3 3.508 2.466 .075
Within Groups 61.178 43 1.423
Total 71.702 46
Arranging regular staff functions with employees Between Groups 8.830 3 2.943 2.804 .051
Within Groups 45.128 43 1.049
Total 53.957 46
Treating employees with dignity and respect Between Groups .436 3 .145 .199 .897
Within Groups 31.394 43 .730
Total 31.830 46
Encouraging clear and transparent communication among employees Between Groups .209 3 .070 .111 .953
Within Groups 27.067 43 .629
Total 27.277 46
Encouraging team involvement Between Groups .813 3 .271 .455 .715
Within Groups 25.613 43 .596
Total 26.426 46
Providing feedback on employees performance Between Groups 2.527 3 .842 1.320 .280
Within Groups 27.431 43 .638
Total 29.957 46
Having discrimination / harassment policy for employees Between Groups 11.095 3 3.698 3.958 .014
Within Groups 40.182 43 .934
Total 51.277 46
Encouraging employees to recruit their friends Between Groups 2.330 3 .777 .802 .500
Within Groups 41.628 43 .968
Total 43.957 46
Providing basic amenities to employees Between Groups .441 3 .147 .231 .875
Within Groups 27.431 43 .638
Total 27.872 46

 

 

Interpretation

 

There is a only one statistically significant difference between groups related to retention strategy namely ‘having anti-discrimination / anti-harassment policy for employees’, as determined by one-way ANOVA (F (3,43) = 3.698, p = .014). The others were statistically insignificant. Therefore, the research study accepted the null hypothesis i.e. ‘There is no significant difference in the retention strategies followed by the employers of the travel agencies/tour operators having different ownership pattern of Pune city’.

 

Suggestions

 

Since there is no significant difference in the retention strategies followed by the employers of travel agencies having different ownership pattern except ‘having anti-discrimination / anti-harassment policy for employees’, the researchers suggests employers to have anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy for its employees so that employees feel free and are aware whom to approach if need arises. The Employer should strictly follow the Rules/Regulations pertaining to the harassment / discrimination of employees in terms of caste, religion, gender as prescribed in the relevant Acts, Ordinances, Government Resolutions of the concerned Government departments (Law, Labor, Social Welfare, Human Resource Development etc)

As far as the prominent issues related to the Retention of staff in future the managers gave some solutions relating to female employees like adequate maternity leave, drop facility with cab, provide security and areas for their toddlers. There should be uniformity in the salaries, increments and promotions for the deserving staff without gender bias.

A development of attractive retention strategies to retain the young talent is much needed policy in future. For this effective induction and orientation programs to develop confidence in their abilities and performance must be undertaken. HR managers should also offer self-development training programs for their employees instead of only job-related ones. This will help in increasing the employee’s loyalty towards their organization and reduce turnover.

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Cite this article

Sawant M., Biwal A., Ragde R. (2020) A Study of the Current Retention Strategies Followed by Employers for Satisfying Employees of Travel Agencies/Tour Operators of Pune City, India. EATSJ - Euro-Asia Tourism Studies Journal, Vol.1, Issue: December 2020 pp. 2-9.

Received: 16 December 2019 | Accepted: 25 July 2020 | Published online: 16 December 2020
Volume: 1 | Issue: December 2020 |

Authors


MS

Madhuri Sawant (Corresponding author)
Department of Tourism Administration Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, India


AB

Archana Kamlesh Biwal
Maharashtra State Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology, Pune, India


RR

Rajesh Ragde
Department of Tourism Administration Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University Aurangabad, India