Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)



First Advisor

Dr. Deirdre O'Donovan


This thesis focuses on the role of Human Resource Management for employee retention. Given the critical shortage of nurses within Irelands healthcare workforce, the need for first class recruitment and retention strategies is vital. Management should be actively working to attract, recruit and retain nurses within the sector.

In an attempt to investigate the turnover and retention of nurses in the Irish Healthcare workforce research was carried out in the form of surveys and semi structured interviews. The study draws upon a survey gathering both qualitative and quantitative data from 117 nurses currently employed in Irish hospitals. It also draws upon two in depth interviews undertaken with Human Resource Managers working in Irish hospitals; one public, one private.

Analysis of the interviews resulted in the identification of a number of findings. One significant finding was the difference that was found regarding the perception of the role of the HR function across different genres of staffing. Nurses and front line staff were unsure of HRs responsibility and a high volume of participants thought that they were responsible solely for the recmitment and selection process. Nursing managers had positive sentiments towards the HR department and The HR professionals themselves outlined the strategic role they play and the position they take for nurse retention. This leads to a recommendation for practice that the role of HR and the management team as a whole should be outlined to staff at entry level through induction where the role and responsibilities of all staff categories are made clear.

A related finding extends that the HR function play a role in the training of line managers for retention enhancement. While HR’s role is sometimes unobserved by front line staff the unseen position plays a significant duty to ensure that line managers implement policies, procedures and strategies developed by HR at the front line. The study found that where positive experiences were disclosed by nursing staff; continuously a constructive and affirmative relationship between line managers and front line was identified. Similarly, where negative attitudes and intentions to quit were identified, often came with opinions related to disengagement with the management team. Overall a finding from the research identifies that HR and line managers should work collectively to developed and implement strategies for nurse retention.

A third salient finding from the research highlighted that pay and lack of equitable reward and incentives were one of the highest antecedents of turnover within the nursing profession. Other drivers of turnover that received significant identification were stress, burnout, poor leadership, overall job dissatisfaction and disengagement. In conclusion these significant drivers are forces that should be identified and fulfilled under Human Resource functions and filtered from line management down to front line staff If implemented appropriately the high retention rates within the nursing profession in Ireland could see significant improvement.

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