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An investigation of the relationship between employee turnover and work satisfaction, Case study: Jin Jiang Tower Hotel, Shanghai

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2020

Literature review

Jin Jiang Tower Hotel enjoys high prestige among the plush hotels in Shanghai, China. It is one of the five-star luxury hotels in Shanghai set out by gardens and European-style buildings. The hotel is unique in that it is attempting to offer the western lifestyle and prestige to both international and local visitors.

Being one of the largest and most popular hotels, it receives visitors from around the world and throughout the year. Therefore, retaining its large workforce in a changing organization is a strategic issue to the hotel.

The relationship between work satisfaction and employee turnover is an issues that is directly related to the capacity of the hotel to retain the right workforce. However, there is lack of a universal agreement among researchers regarding the relationship. It appears to apply in some cultural contexts and not others.

This conflict justifies the interest in investigating the causes of work satisfactions on employee turnover of workers at Jin Jiang Tower Hotel. Indeed, not a single research has investigated this relationship in a Chinese environment that has adopted the western culture.

For many years, both researchers and business people have realized that employee retention after hiring is important for the success of businesses (Tsai, Cheng & Chang, 2010). The trends of employee turnover in hotels are being focused by scholars and managers because worker’s behaviours and attitudes play a crucial role in the success of hotels.

This issue has numerous relationships with work satisfaction and organization’s encouragement. It is apparent that the issue of worker satisfaction has been investigated in many studies. Ying-Chang et al. (2010) claim that worker satisfaction is the general attitude of an employee towards his/her work and that when people talk of attitude, they are likely referring to work satisfaction.

This study will investigate work satisfaction from a different organizational perspective. It will focus on how firms can enhance work satisfaction, that is, reduce the rate of turnover through flexible and broader human resource policies that move beyond cultural boundaries.

Work satisfaction arise from numerous sources such as quality of supervision, levels of role vagueness, level of support and quality of socioeconomic relationships. The relationship between satisfaction and turnover may also be influenced by variables like gender, mood and cultural orientation.

Apparently, it is unclear how strong the relationship should be offered that it may rely on specific elements of a job in certain firms that implement organizational change to include a completely new culture in their business.

Moreover, in the long run, negative consequences such as unrealized productivity, loss of trained workers and low motivation usually translate to low financial benefits than expected (Cascio, 2002).

Employee turnover in the Chinese context has received considerable attention from scholars as well as managers, though from a general perspective about the Chinese culture. Much of this research has been focused on investigating its causes (Ying-Chang et al. 2010; Nielsen & Smyth, 2006; Au et al. 1998).

Embedded in this approach is the conclusion that turnover is determined by specific identifiable cultural orientations of employees. By establishing policies to address these aspects, managers could reduce the rate of turnover in organizations. However, Van Vianem et al. (2004) differentiated between push and pull motives for turnover.

Push incentives relate to dissatisfaction with individual’s present work circumstance, while pull motives refer to the emerging opportunities to improve individual career opportunities. By assuming that the two motives were a consequence of individual and business practices, Van Vianem et al (2004) left a void in the research as regards to cultural influence which is the major focus of this study.

Nonetheless, the relationship between job satisfaction and employee turnover is not steady across Chinese firms that abandon the Chinese culture, or that work satisfaction relates more closely to cultural orientation and perception of Chinese employees.

Perhaps the most striking and relevant focus of the literature to this study has been on change management especially in Asian context. Dedoussis (2001) investigated how Japanese firms struggled to change human resource management practices after the country’s economy suffered from a prolonged recession.

The researcher proposed several recommendations including: (1) the Japanese management practices should involve a move away from group decision making, while formal management should gradually replace informal on-job-training; (2) Cutbacks in bonus and overtime payment should be included.

However, the Japanese management, seniority system and lifetime employment were immune to change and acted as obstacles. While these observations indicate the importance of change especially in the area of human resources, it is clear that managing change is difficult in the Asian Context.

The conclusions of this study were confirmed by Kasuga et al. (2003) after conducting a study of the expansion of western auto parts manufacturers into Thailand. They observed that the human resources management was the most challenging part in change management. Employees were completely de-motivated especially when the change was about to introduce western management practices.

Menkhoff, Badibanga and Wah (2007) extended their study on change management to include the Chinese context. Their aim was to ascertain whether there were any differences between Chinese and English educated Chinese businessmen in terms of change management.

The result showed that there was a difference between the two in many areas including the initiation of a more preparatory employee management styles. Access to relevant information and workable managerial knowhow appeared to be the major precursor to the different change management approaches employed by the group.

In particular, Chinese educated businessmen were somehow disadvantaged in this respect since contemporary change management literature was largely published in English.

Although, these generalized observations shed a light towards the intricacies of introducing change in Chinese context, the researched did not consider the assumption that the sample comprised of Chinese people who had lived in Singapore throughout their lives and could not represent the entire Chinese population.

In regard to culture change, Nakae (2005) observed that a leader who can change an existing culture and embed a new culture when organizations struggles through organizational crisis is necessary for the organization to survive.

By investigating the leadership of Carlos Ghosn (Nissan CEO) and General Douglas MacArthur, the author concluded that the Asian organizational culture is embedded in their traditional cultures and this fact should not be overlooked when initiating a cultural change.

Pingali (2004) has the opinion that the Asian cultural change dilemmas are not just embedded in work environment, but also in other cultural systems such as diet and food system.

In this obligatory study, the author observed how the Asian diet and food system are becoming westernized, yet the westernization phenomenon has faced great constraints brought about by cultural inclinations. Zhu (2005) also confirmed that revolutionary changes that are taking place in Chinese hotels in regard to consumption.

An apparent conclusion we can make from the literature is that there is a deficiency regarding the impact of western culture on employee turnover. Many studies have concentrated either on the behavioural changes of the Asian people in general or the challenges that face westernization as a change management goal, except a study conducted by fan (1998) regarding the transfer of western management to China.

Although the author observed the challenges surrounding the transfer, his results lacked any correlation between culture change and employee turnover. It is in response to this deficiency that the present study was commenced. The proposed research will investigate this latter assumption through empirical study of causes, consequences and solutions to turnover with respect to job satisfaction in Jin Jiang Tower Hotel.


The rationale of this study is to determine the extent to which western culture influences Chinese employee turnover in a foreign cultural environment. In addition, it provides an opportunity to see its particular influence in the hotel industry which requires total commitment to work by the employees.

This provides the opportunity to understand the reasons behind high rate of turnover in Jin Jiang Tower Hotel which is already employing western business practices within the Chinese land. The proposed research may point that there are several specific problems in the hotel about employee turnover that have emerged due to employee perception about the western culture of the Hotel.

Generally, employees leave for some common reasons including dissatisfaction with their pay, yet there could be other inherent reasons surrounding the business practices and inclinations. This research is responding to the observation made by Warren (2002) that employee turnover is particularly crucial in the hotel industry owing to the soaring levels of productivity efficiency.

Research design and methods

This research utilizes the philosophy of interpretivism. The research will try to investigate the consequences of employee turnover by interpreting the work satisfaction and perception of the employees. Job satisfaction is not a measurable quality and hence the importance of using this viewpoint.

Crowther and Lancaster (2009) link interpretivism philosophy to inductive approach of research. Therefore, the research will use inductive approach partly because of the relationship and lack of hard theories applying to job satisfaction. The resources available dictate that survey is the best research strategy and questionnaires as the most appropriate means of data collection.

The design and methods chosen for the research are defined by a number of concerns. According to Mitchell and Jolley (2009), research design considers factors like aims and objectives, purpose and strategies within the constraints of resources.

A web-based research will meet the requirements for the literature review with the aim of investigating previous research on western culture and turnover relationship. As noted earlier, questionnaires will be used to collect information relating to westernization of business practices in Jin Jiang tower Hotel.

The questionnaires will be distributed through new emails established by employees to accommodate for absentees and shift workers. The head of the catering department will guide the employees to ensure cooperation.

The responses will be sent to an anonymous email address to encourage the employees to give genuine feedbacks. In addition to cost effectiveness, this approach will ensure that the project agrees with the time schedule.

The collected data will be analyzed in order to make recommendations that will be given to the human resource manager of Jin Jiang Tower Hotel for possible implementation. Continuous research on HR issues provides the basis for effective polices (Storey, 2007, p.23).

Research aim and objectives calls for the current information about employee turnover and hence the importance of using a cross-sectional approach to the study. There will be an examination of the current trends and their effects on the issue.


The data collection method of the proposed research must be approved by the management of Jin Jiang Tower Hotel and the participating employees. Therefore, individual employees will fill a consent form before responding to the questionnaire.


There will be no need for any declaration since the research will not involve deceptive approaches.


The debriefing method is determined by the availability of the participants. Since the hotel operates 24 hours a day, it would be difficult to commune a meeting or a face-to-face debriefing. Hence, the best method for debriefing the employees will be through writing. Indeed, this will harmonize with online administration of the other activities.

Withdrawal from the investigation

The participants will be allowed to withdraw from the study at any point until they submit their responses. This point will be included in the initial brief that will be circulated to them through the head of the section.

The data analysis process will commence immediately the responses are forwarded and the participants will be informed on this matter. The employees can withdraw by sending a notification through an address that will be provided together with the questionnaire.


There is a need to avoid the feeling that any information provided by the employees can leak through to the management. This can affect the outcome of the study as many participants will not provide genuine information about the company or management practices.

This risk will be avoided by ensuring that the participants open new emails for this purpose only, other than using those that they use in the workplace. Therefore, the identity of the participants will be concealed and any unwanted interception will not lead to victimization. The participants will also be encouraged to fill the questionnaire at those places they feel secure.

Protection of participants

This study will not involve the names of participants especially in the final report that will be submitted to the management. Therefore, any retaliation to the information and study will not be directed to individual employees.

Observation research

There is no observational research as the study relies on questionnaires only.

Giving advice

One of the objectives of this study is to recommend on how to reduce turnover and increase employee retention at Jin Jiang Tower Hotel. The final report will state the need to confirm the recommendations from an expert before any implementation.

It will not include any strategy, but the areas that the firm might consider important when devising a strategy. Therefore, the study will not provide any professional advice to the hotel.

Research undertaken in public places

Jin Jiang Tower Hotel is a privately owned property that serves the public. The study will take place within its premises and on the employees alone. The responses will be provided by individual employees without any involvement of the public or disruption of the firms operations.

Data protection

Apart from their names, personal information such as gender, age, position and duration of service will be required from the participating employees. However, after all the information has been collected, it will be stored in hard copies until the project is over. In case of long-term storage, the university must give consent; otherwise the copies will be destroyed.

Animal Rights

The study is strictly conducted on human beings and no animals are involved.

Environmental protection

The proposed study has no significant effect on the environment.


The research intends to find out from the participants their satisfaction with the work they do in the hotel as well as their wish to stay working in it. The study is targeting thirty employees from the catering department. This number is dictated by the resources available for the project. The sampling will consider a number of factors as indicated in the following conditions:

  1. The participant should be an employee of Jin Jiang Tower Hotel and must be in the catering department.
  2. The participant must be permanently employed by the firm
  3. The participant must have been working in the hotel for five months
  4. The participant must not have any supervisory role


The employees will not get any payment for participation which is a way of reducing financial constraints. The need to have their problems solved is the only incentive to participate. They should see this as an opportunity to express their concerns and expectations from the hotel management.

  1. Materials required
    1. Questionnaires
    2. Consent forms
    3. Debriefing forms
  2. Schedule
    1. Week 1: A forum with the department head

Dissemination of questionnaires

  1. Week 2: Collecting responses
  2. Week 3: Data entry and analysis
  3. Week 4: Report writing
  4. Week 5: Report presentation
  5. Week 6: Debriefing of participants

Closing the research


  1. Computer and internet access
  2. Data analysis software (CAQDAS)
  3. University library.


Au, A, Garey, J, Bermas, N & Chan, M 1998, “The relationship between acculturation and job satisfaction among Chinese immigrants in New York city restaurant business”. Hospitality Management, vol.17 no.1, pp.11-21.

Cascio, W 2002, Responsible restructuring: Creative and profitable alternatives to layoffs. Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco.

Crowther, D. and Lancaster, G. (2009). Research Methods: A Concise Introduction to Research in Management and Business Consultancy. Oxford Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Dedoussis, V 2001, “Keiretsu and management practices in Japan-resilience amid change.” Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol.16 no.2, pp.173-188.

Fan, Y 1998, “The transfer of western management to China: context, content and constraints. Management Learning, vol.29 no.2, pp.201-221.

Kasuga, T 2003, “The expansion of western auto parts manufacturers into Thailand and responses by Japanese auto parts manufacturers.” JBICI Review, no.11, pp.1-34.

Menkhoff, T, Badibanga U & Wah C Y 2007, “Managing change in Asian business: a comparison between Chinese educated and English educated Chinese entrepreneurs in Singapore.” The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, vol.25 no., pp.50-73.

Mitchell, M & Jolley, J 2009, Research design explained. Cengage Learning, Florence.

Nakae, K 2005, Cultural change: a comparative study of the change efforts of Douglas MacArthur and Carlos Ghosn in Japan, viewed on <>.

Nelsen, I & Smyth, R 2008, “Job satisfaction and response to incentives among China’s urban workforce”. The Journal of Socio-Economics, vol.37 no.5, pp.1921-1936.

Pingali, P 2004, Westernization of Asian diets and the transformation of food systems: implications for research and policy. ESA Working Paper, no 04-17, pp.1-17.

Storey, J 2007, Human resource management: A critical text. Cengage Learning EMEA, Florence.

Tsai, M, Cheng, C & Chang, Y 2010, “Drivers of hospitality industry employees’ satisfaction, organizational commitment and job performance”. African Journal of Business Management, vol.4 no.18, pp.4118-4134.

Warren, S 2002, “The transient workers”. The Wall Street Journal, p.R4.

Ying-Chang, C, Kuo, C, Cheng, W, Hsia, H & Chien, C 2010, “Structural investigation of the relationship between working satisfaction and employee turnover”. The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning, vol.6 no.1, pp.41-50.

Zhu, H 2005, Fast food in a Chinese provincial city: a comparative analysis. Web.

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