The Effect of the Perception of Access to Training and Development Opportunities, on Rates of Work Engagement and Turnover Intent, Among Federal Employees in the United States

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School of Public Policy


Public Policy

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Work engagement is characterized by feelings of vigor, dedication, and absorption. Those who have high rates of work engagement tend to have higher rates of job satisfaction, motivation, and job performance and lower rates of turnover intention. Studies examining work engagement have produced results that show that organizational and managerial characteristics can promote work engagement among employees. Two such theories include High Performance Work Systems (HPWS) and the Job Demands-Resource (JD-R) theory. HPWS theorists posit that through the adoption of specific practices, organizations can cultivate employees who are more motivated, committed, and armed with more skills and competencies. Despite the evidence between HPWS and positive outcomes, questions still exist as to how these work systems alter the behavior and attitudes of employees. The JD-R model, examines the characteristics of a given work environment and divides these characteristics between demands and resources. Burnout and engagement are considered mediators between job demands and job resources (antecedents) and outcomes (both negative and positive). A combination of both frameworks is used to examine the relationship between the perception of access to training and development opportunities, as a high performance work practice and job resource, on rates of work engagement and turnover intent, in the federal workforce. Moreover, this dissertations explores to what extent work engagement mediates the perception of access to training and development opportunities on employees' turnover intention. This dissertations uses the federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). I use a combination of Ordinary Least Squares analyses to test my hypotheses across the entire federal workforce. I also analyze whether differences exist between agencies with different sizes and different typologies. My analyses supports all of my hypotheses: 1) my IV is positively related to my MV; 2) negatively related to my DV; 3) work engagement mediates the relationship between my IV and DV; 4) differences exist between agencies based on size and typology. This study corroborates the claim that the perceptions of employees influence behavior. Moreover, in an era of increasing budget cuts and efforts to reduce the federal workforce, training may be a viable way to increase work engagement and retain effective employees.