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Frontline health care workers and perceived career mobility: Do high-performance work practices make a difference?

Dill, Janette S.; Morgan, Jennifer Craft; Weiner, Bryan

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e31829fcbfd

Background: The use of high-performance work practices (HPWPs) related to career development (e.g., tuition remission, career ladders) is becoming more common in health care organizations, where skill shortages and concerns about quality of care have led to increasing investment in the frontline health care workforce. However, few studies have examined the effectiveness of these policies in shaping the career trajectories of health care workers.

Purposes: The aim of this study is to examine how HPWPs that focus on career development are related to an individuals’ perceived mobility with their current employer. We will also examine the relationships between perceived mobility, job satisfaction, and turnover intent.

Methodology/Approach: We use confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling to examine the relationships between HPWPs and perceived mobility in a sample of 947 frontline health care workers in 22 health care organizations across the United States.

Findings: The findings suggest that tuition remission and educational release time positively predict perceived mobility. Measures of perceived organizational support in one’s current position (e.g., financial rewards, workload, and autonomy) and perceived supervisor support for career development are also significant predictors of perceived mobility. Finally, perceived mobility is a significant predictor of job satisfaction and intent to stay with current employer.

Practice Implications: Our findings suggest that HPWPs related to career development may be effective tools in improving workers’ assessments of their own career potential and improving overall job satisfaction of frontline health care workers. Consequently, HPWPs related to career development may help employers both retain valuable workers and fill worker shortages.

Janette S. Dill, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, The University of Akron, Ohio. E-mail:

Jennifer Craft Morgan, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Bryan Weiner, PhD, is Professor, The Department of Health Policy and Management, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jennifer Craft Morgan was the PI on an evaluation grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that funded the data collection for the data used in this study. Janette Dill worked as a graduate research assistant on the same grant.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins