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A case study in employee turnover

Concerned about the high levels of turnover in academia, HR lecturer Amna Yousaf set out to discover the reasons.

Amna Yousaf is a prolific human resources academic and researcher. The Swinburne University lecturer teaches organisational behaviour at a postgraduate level, innovation at an undergraduate level, publishes works in peer-reviewed journals, is a volunteer reviewer of other people’s journal articles, and is a supervisor and examiner of PhD theses.

Given her total immersion in the study and teaching of human resources, it’s no wonder she was the first academic to undergo the new AHRI certification academic pathway.

“I want to earn a good name in HR a few years down the road,” says Yousaf.

Fairly new to the human resources landscape in Australia, Yousaf only migrated from Pakistan in 2017. “In Pakistan the systems and the HR processes aren’t really developed yet,” she says. “Many organisations don’t have HR operations, and if they do they aren’t very sophisticated. Performance management and Learning and Development, for example, are very rudimentary.”

This kind of of cross-cultural analysis is an area of particular interest for Yousaf.

Out the door

For her portfolio towards achieving an AHRI academic certification in HR, Yousaf included the work she had done on analysing turnover rates of academics in universities across Pakistan and the Netherlands. While culturally and socially the two locales might appear to be very different, they were both experiencing an inability to hold on to academic staff long term.

Yousaf examined turnover by measuring employee satisfaction with HR practices at universities, and the factors that influenced them, looking in particular at the role line managers were playing.

“I found that line managers were having a very strong impact on employee satisfaction.

As opposed to senior managers, the line manager is directly involved in carrying out HR practices such as performance appraisal and providing feedback,” she says.

Yousaf’s research showed that the problem lay in line managers’ lack of experience in carrying out these tasks. “If employees are dissatisfied with the HR practices being implemented, their perception of the organisation will be poor. The level of fairness, trust and loyalty will suffer.”

The way forward

The responsibility for improving the delivery of these services lies squarely with HR, she says.

“Employee satisfaction can be improved through training line managers in a more professional way around HR functions. Then the higher retention rates will be.”

Universities in Pakistan and the Netherlands, were very interested in the research and “were committed to new interventions and programs which could help develop the managers”.

Yousaf is grateful to AHRI for the opportunity afforded her through certification. “The AHRI academic certification program is a professional opportunity that I never would have had working in Pakistan,” she says.

“As a researcher, continued professional development is important to me. It’s a great marker of your abilities as an HR academic, and I see it only becoming more important.”


Be recognised for your professional contribution to the HR discipline through academic research and/or teaching by becoming a Certified Academic HR (CAHR) via the Academic Pathway.

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Muhammad Kamran Khan
Muhammad Kamran Khan

Mrs Yousuf has highlighted one of the important prospective of academic HR. Could you please suggest some recommendations to rectify this issue.

catherine powell
catherine powell

Hi, is it possible to have some information such as key specific reasons regarding management behaviour that can lead to dissatisfaction or some essential actions to take? Also, it is possible to have a link to the research/study? Sounds like an important research project that could help guide HR planning.
Thank you.

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