Background: Motivation and job satisfaction have been identified as key factors for health worker retention and turnover in low- and middle-income countries. District health managers in decentralized health systems usually have a broadened 'decision space' that enables them to positively influence health worker motivation and job satisfaction, which in turn impacts on retention and performance at district-level. The study explored the effects of motivation and job satisfaction on turnover intention and how motivation and satisfaction can be improved by district health managers in order to increase retention of health workers.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey in three districts of the Eastern Region in Ghana and interviewed 256 health workers from several staff categories (doctors, nursing professionals, allied health workers and pharmacists) on their intentions to leave their current health facilities as well as their perceptions on various aspects of motivation and job satisfaction. The effects of motivation and job satisfaction on turnover intention were explored through logistic regression analysis.
Results: Overall, 69% of the respondents reported to have turnover intentions. Motivation (OR = 0.74, 95% CI: 0.60 to 0.92) and job satisfaction (OR = 0.74, 95% CI: 0.57 to 0.96) were significantly associated with turnover intention and higher levels of both reduced the risk of health workers having this intention. The dimensions of motivation and job satisfaction significantly associated with turnover intention included career development (OR = 0.56, 95% CI: 0.36 to 0.86), workload (OR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.34 to 0.99), management (OR = 0.51. 95% CI: 0.30 to 0.84), organizational commitment (OR = 0.36, 95% CI: 0.19 to 0.66), and burnout (OR = 0.59, 95% CI: 0.39 to 0.91).
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that effective human resource management practices at district level influence health worker motivation and job satisfaction, thereby reducing the likelihood for turnover. Therefore, it is worth strengthening human resource management skills at district level and supporting district health managers to implement retention strategies.