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1.1       Background to the Study

Globally, retaining talented employees is challenging to organisations in the face of hyper-competition, corporate failures, employees’ turnover, absenteeism and workplace discrimination. The concern emanates from the philosophical assumption that talented employees are instrumental to organisational success (Collins, 2006, 2009), and a determining factor in an organisation sustainability, and competitive advantage (Porter, 2008). Public and Private organisations depend highly on the inherent experience and technical ability of their talented employees to strive with competitors (Armstrong, 2009) and to perform above average returns (Schuler, 2011, Vaiman, Scullion & Collins 2012). However, workplace discrimination has affected the retention of talented workforce in many organisations both public and private. 

The scholarly argument for talented employees retention is anchored on intellectual capital perspective (Becker, 2000) and resources based view (Penrose, 1959), and three reasons stated by Harvard Business Essential i.e. (1) the need for growth on intellectual capital, (2) the occasional relationship that connects talented employee and customer satisfaction, and (3) financial cost of employee’s turnover and lack of interruption of competitive goods and services (Chitra, 2013). In addition, Armstrong (2006 & 2010) and Becker (2000) emphasised the effect of intellectual capital as human intangible assets to organisation longevity and financial success.  

Nevertheless, recent studies have revealed the difficulty in the retention of talented employees for the organisations as several employees are lured and hired with better rewards (Armstrong, 2006; Desseler, 2008; Michael & Crispen, 2009; Michael, 2008).  The after-effect has been industrial espionage and loss of intellectual property. Hence, competitive advantage is eroded when talented employees are not given chance to have a long stay in the organisation so as to maintain lack of disconnection of company’s competitive products and services in the market within which it operates (Michael, 2008).

Abbasi and Hollman (2000) indicate that in an instance of losing a talented employee by an organisation, it becomes a disadvantage to innovation, consistencies in providing quality services become vulnerable, and there exists major setbacks in services rendered to customers.  These negative effects emerged since talented employees are the progenitors of knowledge, innovation, and creativity that constitute the main advantages of an organisation over its rivals. From the foregoing, talented employees retention is fundamental to an organisation’s competitiveness (Rath & Rath, 2014).

Talented employees’ retention is confronted with challenges due to workplace discrimination in today’s business world. Proprietors, management and other employers of labour acknowledged the reality of workplace discrimination orchestrated by employees’ diversity; age, gender, marital status, social status, health status, disability, sexual orientation, religion, personality, ethnicity, race, career focus, and culture (Kossek, Lobel,& Brown, 2005). In this regard, studies in the area of discrimination have examined such characteristics in relation to organisational behavioural outcomes and performance (Channar, Abbassi, & Ujan 2011).

In spite of the worldwide acceptance of the law as an appropriate instrument for dealing with workplace discrimination challenges and the conscious efforts of organisations to rid themselves of such practices, workplace discrimination remains a global reality (Beauchamp & Bowie, 1993; Gregory & Thompson, 2010). The concern for workplace discrimination arises from the assumption that it causes disparity, organisational injustices, and inequity among employees of different groups or associations within the organisation (Robins & Judge, 2014; Jie, Ashok, Brian & Manjit, 2009).

Weiss (2008) sees workplace discrimination as a recent managerial task which demands serious attention because its after-effect amplifies the intention of talented employees to leave and hinders organisation from wining a competitive advantage. Authors who research on discrimination rarely give close attention to variables such as (1) religion affiliation (2) work climate (3) managerial skills (4) career development (5) institutional policy and (6) workforce diversity. Rather, attention has always been more on disability, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation, with others in relation to workplace discrimination (Channar, Abbassi, & Ujan 2011; Darity & Mason, 1998; Hoobler, Lemmon & Wayne, 2011).

As work environment is beginning to experience diversity in the aspect of culture, ethnicity, and religion, people’s social quality and discriminatory influence become more intense.  Consequently, employees would probably bring with them their religious beliefs and practices with them to the organisation.  According to Oliverira (2004), Mitroff and Denton (1999), and Cavanagh (1999), when organisations foster free expression and practice of religion and spirituality in workplace environment, such organisation would have a better chance to succeed.  Work climate are driven by reactivation of work environment and interaction of religions (Marschke, Preziosi, & Harrington, 2009).

The quest for religion affiliation is now very popular due to the on-going confusion about organisational identity that frequently follows an impression of lack of job security for employees in various organisations (Giacolone & Jurkiewicz, 2003).  Organisation integrity is constantly investigated  detailing human resource challenges such as business ethics, corporate contributions, community development, environmental policies, human right, and workplace success (Giacalone et al. 2003), which only a religiously motivated talented employees could answer.  The motive of religion affiliation and work climate has to do with employees giving and witnessing inter-dependence, pull and togetherness in the work environment that enables corporate organisations to craft out strategies that produce competitive advantage (Harrigton et al., 2004; Mitroff & Denton, 1999). Developing a spiritual vision through religion and comfortable work climate can quench discrimination, fasten an employee to the organisation and improve retention.

In relating managerial skills to workplace discrimination, skills and qualifications ideally speak for themselves and become one of the core aspects the managers consider in the choice of retention of talented employee; however, this is not always the case (Kadiresan & Javed, 2015). This introduces a barrier into a healthy workplace relationship which, Naidoo (2009) affirms that talented employees discriminated against in this way tends to become more stressed, demotivated, and consequently develop an intention to leave.

Furthermore, ascendancy to the higher rank is a subtle challenge while planning to retain talented employees who have much concern for career development (Hoobler, Lemmon & Wayne, 2011). Hoobler et al, (2011) explains four main stereotypical reasons why certain gender is considered not fit for the highest echelon of their career. These are: (1) glass ceiling (2) pipe line argument (3) genetic predisposition (4) 21st century work structure.  The assumptions have consequential effect on talented employees’ retention and organisation longevity.

In the global business world of today, it is certain for organisation to recruit employees from various socio-cultural and political backgrounds considering the unchangeable divergences in ethnicity, religion, race, gender, size, personalities, physical capabilities, age, and sexual inclination and others. In as much as organisation employs individuals, it is expedient that it invests on workforce diversity management to foster organisational unity that enhances competitive advantages and produce a high rate of returns on investment (Green, Lopez, Wysock, Kepner, Farnsworth & Clark, 2015).

Workforce diversity is a priceless competitive property indispensable to any organisation (Robinson, 2002; Usmani, Kumari, & Hussain, 2015). Appreciating the worth of workforce diversity is a crucial part of effective management of talented employees (Anonymous, 2001). The reality of today’s business is the indiscriminate atmosphere that allows retention of diverse talented employees to have a level play field with their indigenous counterparts. An organisation that has various talented employees performs better in a competitive market (Kundu, 2001). More so, the legislation backs the notion that talented employees be treated justifiably (Pincus, 2000). The beginning of a business contract in the workplace is supposed to be through the awareness of justice adequately informed by institutional policies.  Organisations are expected to construct standing principles and procedures to form part of their institutional policies which suggest that all employers have the obligation to treat their employees with worthiness and admiration in the workplace (Human Right Commission (HRC, 2013).

According to New South Wale Industrial Relation Agreement (NSW, 2013) on Supporting Fair and Productive Workplace, a clear institutional policy statement is described as a significant symbol of management responsibility in safeguarding not-conforming behaviours such as discrimination at workplace. However, the effectiveness of institutional policy depends on the involvement of all stakeholders coupled with corporate strategy forming an inherent fraction of the organisation. Institutional policy must carry along all personnel at management cadres to secure their interests and construct the policy with the awareness of the employees and their representatives.

Everyday operations at workplace can be a source of unintentional discrimination which is capable of hindering organisational success. For the avoidance of this, organisations may need to review its current policies to follow-up with procedures and practices that will identify areas where it needs to invest in change. A good institutional policy helps in achieving broader performance improvements as it focuses on effectiveness and efficiency at workplace. A good institutional policy defines what constitute workplace discrimination, highlights the influence on key areas such as managerial skills, career development, and workforce diversity as it relates to interaction of certain elements such as religion, gender, and work climate to sustain talented employees’ retention in the organisation, and to win a competitive edge above rivals.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Workplace discrimination phenomenon is a serious problem worldwide and Nigeria is not an exception with reference to retaining talents. The history of Nigerian nationalism is being narrated in comparison with ethno-regionalism, gender, religion, Federal character, and discrimination sentiment (Mohammed, 2005). This experience has been cascaded into workplace discrimination both in public and private organisations. Further, social, economic disparities and geo-political demarcations have translated into unfair instruments in employment processes and the after-effect is generating tensions, conflicts, and workplace discrimination. 

In spite of the commonly espoused Government vision of building inclusive and egalitarian society, ethnic and religious intolerance, institutional policies and others have marred the progress made in post-colonial era.  This emerged from the disposition to hire employees on Federal Character with a publication that amplifies the depth and level of inter-regional inequality in employment (Remington, 2015). While the aforementioned reflected the inter-regional mind-set, the private is not isolated as evidences of institutional policies and practices have tacitly and socially excluded qualified and eligible applicants from being employed. 

Several policies and practices among private organisations have created a big obstacle to organisational potentials and success in retaining talented workers (Olurode, 2003). In most organisations there is usually no commitment to providing employment opportunity for eligible applicants or converting qualified third-party service providers to regular employees as a form of organisation’s move to motivate talented employees without reference to peoples’ connections, demands for settlement, age limitation, disability, genetic formation, pregnancy, and marital status which all have their links with  discrimination.  Evidence of this assertion is credited to Akinpelu and Oyetunji (2016) which demonstrated that recruitment procedures in public and private services in Nigeria are not based on merit rather on gender, religion, and tribal sentiments.

In addition, workplace discrimination challenges faced in private organisations in relation to talent retention today are rooted in several factors one of which is managerial skills and this can be regarded as dimensions of workplace discrimination. Many private organisations having being caught up by the current economic hardship are in a state of dilemma in retaining highly skilled workers. This is evidenced in the recent disengagement of thousands of employees in the Eco Bank, Diamond Bank, and First Bank of Nigeria Plc. In this situation, the only way of escape from loss of intellectual capital is for the private organisations to be fair and free from discrimination in their choice of retention by valuing, preserving, and utilizing optimally the technical, human, analytical, and conceptual skills in individual talents to its advantage in order to win a competitive edge above rivals. The difficult task confronted by several private organisations this day is the ability to initiate effective management strategies for the retention of talents and survival of their business. (Akinpelu & Oyetunji, 2016).

Another challenge faced by private organisations is the ability to strengthen the bond with core employees through career development. In many private organisations, employment casualization has gained a wider ground. Short term employment has secured the regular status lacking the legal rewards attached to regular employment. Casual employees are made to undergo career degradation, unattractive payment, exclusion from association and other rewards. Workplace discrimination prevents talented employees from reaching the pick of their careers as fulfilment of life and career purpose is undermined (Akinpelu, et. al. 2016).

Reflection on departure in identity and personal attributes have constituted obstacles to the achievement of workforce diversity; capturing that divergence to gain a competitive edge (Robbins & Judge, 2014; Cachon, 2005).  However, the challenges that private and public organisations in Nigeria are confronting today is the promotion of teamwork in the midst of workers hailing from different cultural settings, age, gender, education, profession, religion and appropriately tailoring their activities in line with achievement of organisational goals and objectives suggests that more effort is required to improve workforce diversity to encourage talents to stay.

Appreciating workforce diversity is essential if competitive advantage must be sustained. Productivity, effectiveness and competitiveness are maintained when workforce diversity is in place. In his assertion, Cox (2001) opines that promoting workforce diversity will encourage retention of excellent employees and help to improve customer loyalty. More so, due to the rapid expansion of private universities in Ogun State, there has been an increase in the diversity of the faculties and staff. These faculties and staff have different perspectives, cognitions and customs which are capable of being harnessed for the usefulness of the organisation in the face of unbiased workforce diversity management strategy.

Irrespective of the fact that some institutions are performing well in customers’ relation, whether or not workforce diversity is being practiced internally is uncertain. Institutions are lacking diversity as part of their core values of leadership; integrity, character, creativity and innovation, team spirit and togetherness which supposed to serve as pointers to the idea of workforce diversity is being alienated by discrimination (Duggar, 2016)

Gender discrimination in Nigeria can be traced to the period of colonial administration and this discrimination against the opposite sex in workplaces is still predominant in our modern society (Makama, 2013). For instance, the Federal Ministerial report released by the Women Aid Collective Organisation in 2008 discloses that in the Ministry of Women Affairs, men have higher population than women. Men have 59.4 per cent population higher than women who only have 40.6 per cent population. This is the evidence of the incessant challenge pose by gender discrimination in workplace which often times lead to unrest, ill decision making and lack of productivity (Lawal, 2004). According to Azuh, Egharevba, and Azuh (2014) the failure to include women in all aspects of life is responsible for the continued underdevelopment of many organisations. Where women are downgraded, discriminated against, marginalized or ignored, it is difficult to achieve development (Egbuta, 2016).  The potentials of women are often under-utilized in work places while it has been found out that, men have dominated the workplaces.

Employees’ perceptions and feelings about physical and social work climate is also a serious cause for concern to talent retention. Workplace discrimination leads to poor work climate (Armstrong, 2007). The workplace social environment in many private and public universities is unsafe and unhealthy. These in most cases affect how well institution’s goals are being achieved when the work climate is un-conducive and lack innovation. A workplace that does not provide clarity among the group in terms of roles and responsibilities within the overall organisation, an environment where employees does not have the resources and backing they need to achieve the work group’s goals, or an environment that provides no opportunity to group members to stretch their abilities and assume some certain level of risks in providing solution to problems and find out innovative means of functioning to arrive at better performance is no doubt encountering discrimination and will find it difficult to retain its core talents (Armstrong, 2010).

The new managerial bottleneck that is calling for attention is religious discrimination. Religious discrimination dispute is developing quickly compare to any other forms of discrimination. This is reflected in the killings of about seven hundred to one thousand (700-1000) Shiite minority in Zaria, Kaduna State, as they were setting up for a religious function in December 2015 by Nigerian army. Recently in Kano, about fifteen (15) Shiite members and one (1) policeman lost their lives during the clash between the members of the sect and the police while claiming their right for freedom of worship (Adetayo & Odogwu, 2017). Earlier in the study of IFRA Nigeria between June 2006 and May 2014, it is reported that violence deaths caused by religious discrimination accounts for four thousand and forty-one (4041) people. From the year 2006 to 2009 statistic shows a rapid increase in number of death caused by religious discrimination from ten (10) to one thousand and four (1004) casualties. In the year 2010, the figure drops to seven hundred and eight (708) casualties, but in 2011, it escalates to one thousand one-hundred and seventy-nine (1179).  Year 2011 to 2014 witness a rapid increase from one thousand one-hundred and seventy-nine (1179) to four thousand and forty-one (4041) casualties. This eventually has led to migration of human capital from the north to the south and the east thereby causing increase in unemployment population in the regions and economic talent degradation in the north (IFRA, 2014). 

             As enumerated  by Ali, Ali, and Abdigani (2013), organisation’s challenge of today is surrounded with inadequate infrastructure, lack of transparency, lack of integrity, lack of continuity in programs, inconsistency in policies and regulations, brain drain, and high level of mediocrity, amplified by different forms of discrimination. These are critical factors for business success but can also deter organisation’s success.  Talented employees are extremely important to public and private organisational performance (Oladapo, 2014).  For many organisations, the strategy employed to arrest the loyalty of the talented employees is crucial to their success (Iles, 2007). The emergence of knowledge based society has made talented employees to be considered as salient drivers and requisites to the sustainability of the organisation.  Nations and organisations are still in the business of competing for the best talents in the face high turnover (Porter, 2008). 

Turnover is a popular phenomenon in higher institutions of which Ogun State is not an exception. A particular challenge faced by institutions is associated with workplace discrimination dimensions namely managerial skill, career development, institutional policies, workforce diversity, work climate, gender and religious. Porter (2008) explains the undesirable circumstance faced by many professional organisations due to competition because they ignore to admire talents better than their rivals.

According to Birt, Wallis and Winternitz (2004) the primary concern towards institutions is to follow up with the dynamic necessities of their workforce so as to gain absolute preference in the sight of the employees. Institutions need to be familiar with these qualities in order to equate their attraction and retention strategy with the demands from the employees. It is based on this premise that the research examined workplace discrimination and talent retention in Private and Public Universities in Ogun State.  A conceptual framework that may help organisations create strategies and policies to control workplace discrimination efficiently for better talent retention has been designed in this study.

1.3       Objective of the Study

The general objective of the study is to examine workplace discriminations and talent retention in universities in Ogun State, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:

1.      assess the effect of managerial skills on talent retention in universities in Ogun State.

2.      examine the effects of career development on talent retention in universities in Ogun State.

  1. evaluate the individual and combined moderating effects of religious affiliation and work climate on the relationship between talent retention and workplace discrimination in universities in Ogun State.
  2. assess the respondents’ different opinions on workplace discrimination by religious affiliation in universities in Ogun State.

5.      examine the extent to which the variables of workplace discrimination (managerial skills, career development, institutional policy, and workforce diversity) influence talent retention in Universities in Ogun State,  and

6.      assess the effect of workplace discrimination variables (managerial skills, career development, institutional policy, and workforce diversity) on talent retention in universities in Ogun State.

1.4       Research Questions

  1. What is the effect of managerial skills on talent retention?
  2. To what degree does career development affect talent retention?
  3. What is the individual and combined effect of religious affiliation and work climate on the relationship between talent retention and workplace discrimination?
  4. What level of significance is the respondents’ difference in opinions on workplace discrimination by religious affiliation?
  5. To what extent do managerial skills, career development, institutional policy, and workforce diversity as dimensions of workplace discrimination influence talent retention?
  6. What is the effect of workplace discrimination variables on talent retention?

1.5       Hypotheses

The following hypotheses are formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.

H0 1: There is no significant effect of Managerial skills on talent retention in universities in       Ogun State.

H0 2:  There is no significant effect of career development on talent retention in universities in Ogun State.

H0 3:   There is no individual and combined effect of the moderating variables (work climate,

           religious affiliation) on the relationship between talent retention and work place

           discrimination in universities in Ogun State.  

H0 4:    There is no significant difference in respondents’ opinions by religious affiliation on workplace discrimination in universities in Ogun State.

H0 5:     There is no significant combined influence of managerial skills, career development, institutional policy, and workforce diversity on talent retention in universities in Ogun State.

H0 6:     There is no significant effect of workplace discrimination on talent retention in universities in Ogun State.

1.6       Rationale for Hypotheses

Hypothesis One

There is no significant effect of managerial skills on talent retention

Previous findings have agreed that there is a significant relationship between managerial skills and talent retention (Armstrong, 2006; Armstrong 2010; Becker 2000; Chitra, 2013). A possible reason for this is what is being described as a profound effect of human intangible assets to organisational longevity (Becker, 2000), which was said cannot be overemphasised when it comes to retention of talented employees (Porter, 2008). However, Michael (2008), Desseler (2008), Armstrong (2006), and Convey (2005) also argued that retention of talented employee is strenuous no matter the incentives or rewards supplied. The study examined whether discrimination was a source of disincentive to work. The finding reaffirmed the assertion that where there is no discrimination, skills and competencies can be developed, rewards to work cannot be denied and a sense of humiliation, frustration and powerlessness cannot take over the work place. It was through this line of reasoning that the researcher hypothesized that there is no significant effect of managerial skills on talent retention.

Hypothesis Two

There is no significant effect of Career Development on talent retention.

The work of Rita (2013 on the role of talent management on organisation performance found that learning and development in organisations is a constant struggle viewed as an administrative exercise rather than as a competitive advantage.  The authors submitted that during strong economic times, it is easier to ignore deficiencies in the career management process, but during economic downturn, the need to identify and develop top talents for critical roles has never been more important. It was based on this reasoning that the researcher hypothesized that career development is of no significant effect to talent retention.

Hypothesis Three

There is no individual and combined effect of the moderating variables (work climate and religious affiliation) on the relationship between talent retention and work place discrimination

Previous studies discover agreement of work climate, employee attitudes and behaviours.  Findings state that work climate relates with positive and negative behaviours.  Therefore, workers who see their work environment to be non-supportive and not admiring are likely to display negative behaviours (Wolfs, Dulmus, & Maguin, 2012). 

Similarly, a survey report conducted by the Society for Human Recourse Management (SHRM) (2008) on religion/spirituality in the workplace (Faith at Work) survey to examine what organisation are doing in terms of religious accommodations, and to determine the impact of religious accommodation in the workplace shows that at least 12% of the respondents still believe that there are no religious/spiritual diversity among its employees.

Also, in Maina and Onsongo (2013) from a survey conducted on employee attitudes towards organisational diversity on business performance from the perspective of the small and medium enterprises.  It was found that 38% were occasional and seldom victims of gender discrimination in the organisations. The researcher infers from this line of reasoning and hypothesized base on the above reasons that there is no significance effect of the moderating variables (work climate and religious affiliation) on the relationship between talent retention and work place discrimination.

Hypothesis Four

There is no significant difference in respondents’ opinion by religious affiliation on workplace discrimination

The study reveals that application of the spiritual mind set in a workplace will support creativity and innovativeness of employees, which in the other way round lifts productivity, resulting to better overall performance (Marschke, Preziosi, & Harrington, 2009). Different   researches on spirituality in the workplace (Giacolone & Juriewicz, 2003) discover that when people discover a sense of worth in their work endeavours and feel involved in a spiritual climate, they feel excited with vigour and concentrate more on the progress of the organisation.  According to Morrison (1996) and Loden and Rosener (1991), organisations that operate religious diversity properly benefit in higher returns and possess the ability to retain core talents. From this line of taught, looking at spirituality as being closely linked to religion, the researcher hence hypothesized that there is no significant level of differences between the opinion of the respondents and moderating effect of workplace discrimination by religion.

Hypothesis Five

There is no significant influence of workplace discrimination (managerial skills, career development, institutional policy, and workforce diversity) on talent retention

The literature has demonstrated that the ideas of non-discrimination and equal opportunity have for years been enlisted among international community's key principles including conventions of the United Nations and the International Labor Organisation (ILO). These ideas are rooted in universal principles of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and equality enshrined in numerous international instruments (International Finance Corporation, 2006).    Human resources mobility has risen through economic globalization, while organisations are searching for means of retaining talents, enhancing employee performance, making corporate image better and actualising corporate goals. Organisation has become a global system that works within and as well relates across the globe (Weihrich & Koontz 2001).  From this line of thought, the researcher hypothesized that there is no significant influence of workplace discrimination (managerial skills, career development, institutional policy, and workforce diversity) on talent retention.

Hypothesis Six

There is no significant effect of workplace discrimination (managerial skills, career development, institutional policy, and workforce diversity) on talent retention

Labour Regulations (2007) establishes the illegality to discriminate in hiring, promotions, termination, or other aspects of employment, and on the basis of a person’s diversity. In other words, an employer cannot discriminate against any individual when it comes to the practices within the workforce arena.

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