Research methods Improving employee engagement

Introduction to research methods

Improving employee engagement in the business is one of the very critical missions and challenge faced by many managers and employers. Successful organizations are found to be engaging their employees in various levels of their business, which helps them to improve their overall business competitiveness. This research is prepared to identify the various causes, need, and challenges involved with employee engagement in business and the potential benefits an organization can receive.

A research methodology is the process of identifying and assessing various methods used in research process and the identification of the various data collection methods, and the type of approach used. In this case, the philosophy of Postmodernism is applied. Postmodern philosophy refers to the identification of facts, issues, and objectives beyond the framework of theories, policies, and social paradigms. According to Blaxter et al. (2006) post-modernism approach believes that any paradigms and facts are vulnerable to change in different conditions and situations. There is no proper definition to research as there are many types of researches which are applicable to different areas of life and business. Some individuals do research for educational purpose, while some attempt to research for finding answers to existing problems in certain areas. According to Connaway & Powell (2010) research can be defined as “a studious inquiry or examination; especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts or practical application of such new theories and findings”. A well-recognized and accepted definition of research is provided by Goddard & Melville (2006) which defines Research as, “a process carried out to find answers to unanswered issues in a specific area, or creating scenarios which does not even exist, and it’s not just the process of gathering information and gaining knowledge”. The also stated that a research should be conducted to provide positive benefits to the community and should be capable of answering complex scenarios and issues. The importance of research can be found in everyday life. Everything people know and practice is identified, studied and discovered by somebody with the help of research process and application of efficient research methods (Goddard & Melville, 2006). Therefore, the identification and discovery of information is the crucial element in research and serve as the backbone of any research. As they argue, research process is a never ending quest. As new issues are identified and discovered, new problems emerge in the same area. Therefore, each research is connected to a new issue and one of the main sources of information in a research is previous researches and literatures. These findings and evidences show the importance of research and research methodologies in any process.

Aim of the Study

Aim of the study is a crucial element which decides the course and efficacy of the research process. Research aims are formulated once the research problem is identified. In this case, the research question is the improvement of employee engagement in a business to improve the organizational process. The research aims deals with basic questions of why is researcher conducting a research in the given scenario, what are the expected outcomes, what are the expected problems which are envisaged to clear and so on. In a research, the research aims can include both theoretical and practical aims; for example, development and testing of the given issues with available theories and laws is a theoretical outcome, while identifying, controlling, and discovering various practices and outcomes with the help of regular observations, primary data collection such as surveys and interviews are practical aims (Velde et al., 2004). In this case, various research aims are formulated to study the importance of employee engagement in order to improve the organizational process.

  • Critically analyses various factors which contributes to employee engagement in an organization
  • Evaluating the measures taken by the human resource department and the organization to improve this engagement and utilize the same for the growth of the organization
  • Investigate and analyze the impact of employee engagement in employee satisfaction and loyalty which are two crucial elements which contributes to the organizational development and enables the organization to achieve their business objectives
  • Evaluating the relationship between employee engagement and financial performance of the organization
  • Critical analysis of the demographics and other personal characteristics of the employees with the efficacy of employee engagement
  • Identifying different methods used in different areas to improve or to facilitate the employee engagement
  • Critical evaluation of employee involvement in decision making and day-to-day management process and their impact on the organizational development

Objectives

In any research, certain objectives are developed to lead the researcher through different stages of the research. This process has very crucial impact on the overall research process as it decides what the researcher wants to achieve through this practice and the future gains.

  • The primary objective of this study is to identify the relation between the past findings in the problem and their presence in the current business situations
  • Identify the degree of impact of employee engagement in organizational performance in terms of achieving business goals.
  • Evaluate and create awareness among management professionals about the importance of improving employee engagement as an instrument to leverage the organizational performance and to achieve organizational goals.
  • Illustrating and outlining various factors and elements which can adversely affect the employee engagement program; both at organizational level and operational level
  • Finally to gain good understanding and knowledge about the factors that lead to improved employee engagement and various organizational factors that help companies to achieve this goal.

Background and Rationale

There have been many studies about the human resource polices in business and their impact on the overall organizational process in the past, but only few have seen to be inquiring about the importance of employee engagement in a business and the organization’s capability in achieving business goals. This research takes a look into this aspect of the business. Tritch (2003) argued that the more individual engagement that an organization has the more revenue they are able to generate. As cash flow and revenue is certainly an integrated part of business, they are also expected to be resulting from the achievement of organizational goals. She defines employee engagement in the manner of a case study. For example, employee engagement is when an employee knows about the company’s vision and mission, capable of handling various tasks which are offered by the company, handling new technologies and processes, providing support and feedback to their customers, and also capable of providing constructive criticisms and advices to the organization in a healthy manner can be said to be engaging. She insists that providing and creating such engaging environment which encourages employees to take responsibilities on their own without imposing extra work on their job description can drive more value to the company. She also argued that employees become more creative and responsible and they start to become enthusiast about their work as they believe the organization care about their opinions and work. According to a T+D cover article (2010) employee engagement programs are very necessary to improve the customer satisfaction, and employee morale. They need to be custom tailored to fit each individual in an organization; therefore, it becomes an integral activity of the training and development department in an organization. This process has various stages, such as creating awareness among the managers on how to improve engagement among their employees, identifying potential of each individual in every department, creating measurement metrics and calculating the productivity and so on. However, it is also identified that, it is a best practice to calculate how much loss and organization is suffering from due to employee disengagement (T+D, 2010) than the gains they are getting from employee engagement, as human behaviors are contagious and can be transferred to fellow workers. It is identified that an organization in which employees are tied up with many policies and rules which restricts them from doing the right thing can cause a negative impression among the customers and among the employees itself. In many cases, the rules, practices, theories, policies, and organizational structure itself force the employees to do the wrong practice, or being punished for doing the right thing; such events restricts the employee from going to the limits beyond their authority and make a change or making the customers, or even changing the pattern of a process that can save more money to the organization and achieve organizational goals more quickly (Rieger & Kamins, 2006). The issue in question is whether the rules, and organizational structure, or the employee behavior play the crucial role in deciding and improving employee engagement. A very basic answer is both. However, more research to be done to identify the magnitude of both issues, and their degree of impact on the scenario.

Rieger & Kamins (2006) argued that it is the organization’s responsibility to bring change to the environment in which they operate and facilitate organic growth with the help of improved employee engagement, as most of such plans and programs get terminated due to the institutional barriers and rules practiced by organizations. Such inefficiencies are also reflected in achieving organizational goals. On the other hand, the growth of employee engagement stops at certain level, if the organization do not take interest in leveraging their responsibilities to improve and empower their employees to participate in the organizational process. They identified certain factors that prevent employees from becoming less engaging such as: using their common-sense in relatively less critical issues, giving the right answers or providing the right service a customer need, work efficiency, proactive and holistic response from the employees in terms of customer relationship building, and as a result, it also restricts financial and organic growth in the organization. According to May (2010), “disengaged employees are like sailors on different boats, going in different directions, at different speeds!” There are both satisfied and unsatisfied employees, but as a result, they too get misdirected or disengaged from this action. Therefore, it is an organization’s responsibility and need to create engaging environment in an organization. The importance of employee engagement are visible from the past literatures and studies, it is also important to study the different factors that prevents and lead and employee from becoming engaging in an organizational process. Therefore, identifying and analyzing such factors that determine the efficiency and capability of an organization to implement employee engagement and their contribution to improve the organization’s organic growth and achieving organizational goals more quickly can serve to the community and the whole society in a positive way.

Research Method and Design

According to Smart (2008), the most important component in choosing the right research method is the researcher’s philosophy. It is determined by what she needs to achieve, what she need to study and what methods she need to use to fulfill her goals. In most cases, the researcher pre-plans the process which helps the researcher to execute this plan and gain maximum benefits out of the research. It can also help the researcher to plan the data collection methods, data analysis methods and tools, hypothesis patterns (if any) and such. Two of the well-known methods applied in researches are quantitative and qualitative methods. Qualitative method values the quality of the data, while quantitative method relies on the numbers and statistical methods to reach a conclusion. Qualitative analysis can be defined as the non-numerical examination and interpretation of facts and figures with the help of close observation and analysis for the purpose of creating relationships between findings and existing theories (Rubin & Babbie, 2011); while Quantitative method make use of statistical tools and methods to analyze the data collected through interviews and surveys. It makes use of the numerical representation of data (Sukamolson, 2005). In this study, a different approach is used to collect and analyze the data. The mixed model is going to be applied in this case, as the study involves both primary and secondary data, and both data need to be linked to prove their relationship with each other. A mixed model can be defined as a study which makes use of both qualitative and quantitative methods, while neither type are inherently linked to any particular research paradigm (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). According to them, such mixed methods are best applicable in behavioral researches, like this study. As the study is intended to collect data through surveys and interpret them to find their relationship with employee engagement, it is also important for the researcher to establish their relationship with different theories. Descriptive study methods are used in this study to establish such relationships. Descriptive study inquires the historic facts and evidences to support the current studies with the help of the primary data collected (Tappen, 2010). It is applicable to use descriptive study in this research as this study makes use of both primary and secondary data.

Data Collection

There are many techniques adopted by researchers when it comes to data collection. Most chosen methods include surveys, interviews, close observations, experiments, secondary data analysis and such. Many of the researchers choose to use quantitative data collection methods as it is easier for them to collect data in numerical form and analyze them with the help of statistical tools like Microsoft Excel or SPSS. Such methods are proven to be more accurate and empirical as they can be extracted and molded to fit into the use of the research problem opted. Many of the researchers choose to use this type of data since they do not include any personal remarks or opinions which cause bias and confusion (Wood & Ross, 2011).

In this study, a questionnaire is used to collect primary data for the purpose of analyzing employee behavior. There are two known methods used in questionnaires such as open-ended and close-ended. Open ended questions allow the participants to enter their personal view in text formats, while close-ended questions restrict the respondents from entering their personal remarks but only permits them to enter answers which are easy to understand and interpret and do not cause any confusion; in short the participants are asked to choose from the given options instead of providing with a narration of their personal feeling (Goddard & Melville, 2006). The questionnaire will be designed in such a way to gather important and necessary information regarding the participant, his demographics, and employment information, elements that determines their job satisfaction, engagement, taking responsibility, initiation, and their willingness to take part in the management operations. The questionnaire will be divided into two parts; the first part will deal with the demographics and personal information of the participant, while the second part collects their employment information which extracts necessary information about meeting their targets, keeping their customers smile by working in a more responsible manner and such. Secondary data will be collected from the literatures, books, newspapers and credible magazines. The data collected from such sources will be primarily theories, previous research findings, survey results, and general laws related to the research problem. The questionnaire will be sent out to working people in different selected organizations via email. Their reply will be collected back through the same medium as well.

Data Analysis

The primary data collected through the questionnaire will be stored in excel sheets and will be analyzed using SPSS. It will help the researcher to find correlations and averages of the data collected with the help of such tools, also using excel makes it easier to store and sort the collected data. Such statistical tools help the researcher to turn the data into useful information. Quantitative data analysis methods will be used to analyze the primary data. Statistical tools like SPSS can help the researcher to find different statistical outcomes with the help of multiple regression and correlation methods and means etc. As the data collected are dependent to each other, this method is going to be very useful to the researcher to find different variables and process such large amount of data with ease. The secondary data will be mainly used to relate the findings with the available theories. There are not analyzed but interpreted to support the findings (Sarma, 2010). Also, to improve the efficacy of the results, a pilot study will be conducted with 10 randomly selected samples. Sample tests will be done to identify the reliability of the chosen techniques and methods.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations are very common when the research deals with human beings and their personal information. As the research areas become more complex in nature, more and more countries and authorities started implementing laws and regulations to control the use of such data collected (Social Research Association, 2003). Any researches that involve human being or animals are considered to be operating within the framework of ethical considerations. One of the major ethical considerations in this study is the researcher being honest and responsible in his actions. Secondly, conducting the research in a competitive way; the researcher should not manipulate or forge any information and findings of the research for any monetary gain or other purposes. However, the major ethical consideration in this study is the use of the participants’ personal information. This information is supposed to be kept confidential and should not be shared with any third party under any circumstances. This information should be made available in the consent form which is to be supplied along with the questionnaire during the survey. All the participants will be guaranteed that their personal information and identification sources will be kept confidentially and will not be published or share with anybody else.

Limitations of the Study

There are few limitations to this study which challenges the reliability and validity of the findings. The first implication is the method used for data collection. In this case, primary data is collected through emails, however, the researcher cannot expect all the participants to respond to email surveys, and however, as the contacts approached are from chosen sources, most of them are expected to respond to the survey. Secondly, although the questionnaire is in closed format, the results may still be dependent on the participants’ personal feelings and may be subjected to bias, and provide the researcher with false information. Therefore, the research findings are again challenged to meet the maximum efficacy levels. Another major issue when it comes to the limitations of this study is the impact of different industries in the study. As the study cannot expect to cover all the industries, the results may vary from industry to industry. Therefore, the results and findings cannot be used for all the purposes of all industries and organizations; however, it can provide with general information and suggestions.

References

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  2. Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln, Y.S., (2011). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (4th Edn.), California: Sage Publications.
  3. ‘Engage Them Now or Lose Them Later’ (2010). T+D, 64 (6), p. 80.
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  5. May, S., (2010). ‘Employees Disengaged? Try Out These Practices’, American Banker, 175 (64), p. 2.
  6. Smart, L.C., (2008). Choosing small businesses: A qualitative study of employee retention in a rural Georgia changing marketplace, USA: ProQuest.
  7. Rieger, T., & Kamins, C., (2006). ‘Are You Failing to Engage?’, Gallup Management Journal, p. 1.
  8. Rubin, A., & Babbie, E., (2011). Research Methods for Social Work (7th Edn.), Belmont: Cengage Learning.
  9. Social Research Association, (2003). Ethical Guideline, Published on: December 2003, [online] Available at: http://www.the-sra.org.uk/documents/pdfs/ethics03.pdf Accessed on: 18th October 2011.
  10. Sukamolson, S (2005). Fundamentals of quantitative research, [online] Available at: http://www.culi.chula.ac.th/e-Journal/bod/Suphat%20Sukamolson.pdf Accessed on: 18th October 2011.
  11. Tappen, R.M., (2010). Advanced Nursing Research: from theory to practice, Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett learning, LLC.
  12. Tritch, T., (2003). ‘Engagement Drives Results at New Century’, Gallup Management Journal, pp. 1-6.
  13. Velde, M., Jansen, W.P., & Anderson, N., (2004). Guide to management research methods, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  14. Wood, G. L., & Haber, J., (2006). Sampling: Nursing research methods and critical appraisal for evidenced based practice (6th Edn), Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.

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