Employee Engagement at STAR Seychelles

Introduction

Human resources are perhaps the most important of the factors that determine the success or failure of an organization or a business. It might be possible to state that having highly qualified, skilled, and motivated staff may often be sufficient for a company to survive in the times of a crisis. At the same time, employees who do not do their work appropriately and do not care might easily bring an end to an organization. Therefore, apart from such aspects as qualification and skill, the performance of employees may be affected by a wide array of factors. Among these, one of the most important factors in employee engagement. In this respect, it should be stressed that engaged workers tend to show considerably greater productivity than employees who are not engaged, and they do so from their incentive. On the whole, promoting engagement among workers is capable of significantly increasing performance of an organization.

Generally speaking, employee engagement may be understood as the emotional commitment of a worker to the organization that they work for, as well as to its goals (Kruse, 2012). It is important to stress, though, that worker engagement is a multi-dimensional construct, and that there exist certain critical components of employee engagement that managers ought to promote in their organizations (Anthony‐McMann, Ellinger, Astakhova, & Halbesleben, 2017). For example, it is known that strong behavioral and affective engagements are capable of triggering cognitive engagement in workers (Fredricks & McColskey, 2012), which, in turn, permit employees to better focus on their work and achieve higher productivity (Jiang & Men, 2017).

Because of the importance of employee engagement for successful performance of virtually any organization, the current paper is aimed at investigating this topic using an example of a real organization. More specifically, the level of worker engagement will be measured in such an organization as STAR Seychelles. After a brief note about the company of STAR Seychelles, a review of literature on this topic will be provided. After that, the research methods adopted for this study will be elaborated. Next, the data that was collected in STAR Seychelles will be analyzed and discussed in detail. Finally, conclusions about employee engagement in this organization will be drawn, and recommendations will be made to propose steps that the company would be able to take to enhance the level of engagement of its workers.

The Company of STAR Seychelles: Background

STAR Seychelles is a foreign organization that is locally registered in the Republic of Seychelles and is mandated to conduct waste and landfill management in the said country (Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Republic of Seychelles [MEECC], 2017). The company has been addressing the issues of waste management since 1997 (MEECC, 2017). STAR Seychelles deals with the majority of waste management in Seychelles (MEECC, 2017), even though there are also multiple smaller operators engaged in this sphere. The municipal waste is collected mainly from communal garbage can sites located on the islands; it is then transported with trucks to controlled landfills (MEECC, 2017). Most landfills are the property of the government of the Republic of Seychelles, but several of them are operated by STAR Seychelles.

On the whole, it seems that workers of STAR Seychelles did not have high levels of employee engagement. According to the oral explanations of a company’s manager, the administrators of the company had an impression that the workers were not engaged in their work, only attempting to meet the minimum requirements and displaying no commitment. For instance, if garbage containers were not full, the workers would not bother collecting waste from them; sometimes they would not complete their tasks at all. At the end of a month, after receiving their salary, many workers would attend work for several days; their absence, according to the manager, was recorded in the company’s documentation.

To solve this problem, it was decided to hire more immigrants instead of Seychellois. During the interview, the manager of STAR Seychelles provided additional information about the company. For instance, it was explained to the researcher that in 1998, when the organization was only beginning its work, the majority of its employees (apart from three immigrants) were Seychellois. However, nowadays, the company employs 70 Seychellois and 30 immigrants and is currently in the process of recruiting four more immigrants. More detailed information about the ethnic composition of the company’s staff can be found in Appendix.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the company of STAR Seychelles is experiencing a crisis, and that a possible factor in this crisis is a lack of employee engagement. Furthermore, communication with the workers of the company confirmed that workers feel disengaged, unmotivated, and even ashamed of their jobs. This is because, for example, they often have to deal with garbage without equipment that would provide a satisfactory level of sanitary conditions, which, apart from being extremely unpleasant, has an adverse impact on their health; or because they sometimes experience teasing from other people, who ridicule them for the untidiness of the type of work they do, etc. Therefore, it was decided to carry out a more detailed investigation of the company’s staff to find out whether there are issues with employee engagement in the organization.

Review of Literature

On the whole, scholarly literature indicates that employee engagement is an important factor that has a considerable impact on successfulness of an organization (Kumar & Pansari, 2015). Employee engagement means that employees possess certain emotional commitment to both the work they do and the organization they work for (Saks & Gruman, 2014). This provides them with a stimulus to do their work better, and due to their incentive. As a result, the performance of these workers increases, which, in turn, has a highly beneficent impact on the performance of the whole organization (Bailey, Madden, Alfes, & Fletcher, 2017). Engaged employees also possess an increased sense of well-being, fulfillment, and self-realization, which, in addition to the said boost to productivity, also may enhance their health (Slack, Corlett, & Morris, 2015). It is also quite clear that employee engagement improves the rates of retention among a company’s workers (Alagaraja & Shuck, 2015).

Employee engagement is a difficult, multi-component construct, and to foster engagement in workers, a large number of factors should be present (Anthony‐McMann et al., 2017). For instance, it is important that the workers realize the purpose of their work, and recognize that this work brings benefits for the society (Slack et al., 2015). The workers need to have well-defined roles, to understand what they need to do, and to become proficient in their type of work (Bailey et al., 2017). They should have appropriate workspace, one that provides all the necessary means and equipment that is required to do the job properly, as well as is pleasant to work at. Workers also need to be surrounded by friendly and benevolent colleagues, who are professional and reliable as well (Anitha, 2014; Kang & Sung, 2017). The efforts of the workers and their high performance should be recognized and rewarded in this way or another, whereas workers who perform poorly should be offered friendly assistance to help them overcome the challenges (Dunwoody & Collins, 2015). There should also be opportunities for personal growth of the employees (Shuck & Reio, 2014). And, of course, the management of the company should be helpful and professional, to help workers manage their tasks, instead of hindering them.

In addition, it should be stressed that for employee engagement to be successfully fostered, it is paramount that there needs to be an efficacious system of organizational management, effectual distribution of information within the organization, and sufficient financial compensation for the efforts of the workers (Albrecht, Bakker, Gruman, Macey, & Saks, 2015; Jiang & Men, 2017; Karanges, Johnston, Beatson, & Lings, 2015). Without these components, it is unlikely that high levels of employee engagement will develop in an organization.

Research Problem

Therefore, the review of the literature demonstrates that employee engagement is important for a company’s workers to be effectual. At the same time, the background information about STAR Seychelles allows for concluding that this company currently experiences a number of problems with employee performance. Because of this, a research problem for the current study will be establishing whether workers of STAR Seychelles experience a lack of employee engagement or not.

Research Questions

The following research questions may be proposed for the current study:

  1. Are employees aware of what is expected of them in their workplace?
  2. Are workers incentivized or otherwise rewarded for high performance at work?
  3. Do supervisors or the company’s leadership encourage workers to improve their performance?

Research Methods

To examine the motivation levels of employees of the STAR Seychelles company, quantitative methods of research inquiry will be utilized. On the whole, it should be stressed that quantitative research methods are employed to empirically study some phenomena by utilizing mathematical or statistical tools. These phenomena are assigned operational definitions–that is, they are defined as quantifiable variables–and certain measurement instruments are then employed to estimate the magnitude of the said phenomena (Cozby & Bates, 2015). After that, mathematical tools such as statistics are used to describe these phenomena in more general quantitative terms or to assess the strength of association between these phenomena. It is important to point out the fact that quantitative research methods do not provide opportunities for studying phenomena that cannot be operationalized and quantified–for example, they cannot be employed for conducting an in-depth study of personal experiences of an individual, their reasons for acting in a particular manner, etc. (Cozby & Bates, 2015).

It should be pointed out that in general, there exist three main types of quantitative investigation, namely, descriptive, correlational, and experimental (or quasi-experimental; Barnham, 2015). Descriptive quantitative studies simply measure certain phenomena, identifying their magnitude, and do not make attempts aimed at establishing association between these phenomena. Correlational studies, on the other hand, utilize statistical methods and tools to identify and assess the magnitude of correlation between the measured variables. In this respect, it is paramount to stress that calculating correlation is not the same as establishing causation, and even if phenomena are strongly and significantly correlated, there may be no causal relationship between them, or if there is such a relationship, it may be of different types and directions. Finally, experimental (and, to a lesser degree, quasi-experimental) research allows for establishing causal connections between phenomena, because it involves manipulating the independent variables and observing the impact of such manipulations on the dependent variables while isolating possible effects of other potential factors that may influence the outcome variables (Cozby & Bates, 2015).

In the current study, the methods of quantitative research will be utilized to find answers to the formulated research questions. This selection of research design is conditioned by the fact that answering the research questions involves assessing the magnitude of employee engagement. In this respect, it is also pivotal to point out that the latter phenomenon has been widely studied in the literature, including quantitative studies, as has been shown above, which also entails that one can easily obtain and effectively use research instruments that would be required to measure employee engagement in an organization. Thus, employee engagement is a phenomenon that can be operationalized using the instruments provided in the literature, and whose magnitude can, therefore, be measured quite easily. All the named reasons may serve as factors that warrant the utilization of quantitative methodology for the current study.

Research Instruments

To conduct a quantitative study, it is of paramount importance to select an appropriate research instrument that would allow for measuring the variables of interest while being highly reliable and valid. It is usually an extremely difficult task to create an instrument that would meet all the named criteria (Cozby & Bates, 2015). In addition, the validation of such instruments also takes a considerable amount of time, for it usually occurs when the instrument is used, and the obtained responses are assessed with various methods, including statistical ones (such as calculating split-half reliability or Cronbach’s alpha; Cozby & Bates, 2015; Warner, 2013). Consequently, it is reasonable to use a research instrument that has been tested and validated in previous research.

One of such instruments that may be employed for the current study is the Gallup Q12 employee engagement questionnaire (Abraham, 2012). It is comprised of 12 main and one additional questions that allow for assessing the degree to which the employees of a certain organization feel engaged in their work. These questions are provided below. It should also be pointed out that the 12 main questions are answered using a five-point Likert scale, where “1” means “strongly disagree” and “5” means “strongly agree”; at the same time, the additional question uses the same five-point scale, but it the labels for these values use the notion of satisfaction rather than that of agreement.

The questions of the Gallup Q12 questionnaire are provided in Forbringer (2002), and maybe formulated as follows:

  1. Using a five-point scale, where “5” stands for “extremely satisfied” and “1” denotes “extremely dissatisfied,” please assess how satisfied you are with your organization as a place to work.
  2. I know what is expected of me at work (Forbringer, 2002).
  3. I have the necessary materials and equipment that I require to do my work correctly (Forbringer, 2002).
  4. At work, I get an opportunity to do what I can do best each day (Forbringer, 2002).
  5. In the last seven days, I was recognized or praised for doing my job well (Forbringer, 2002).
  6. My manager, supervisor, or someone similar at work appears to care about me as an individual (Forbringer, 2002).
  7. There is somebody at work who encourages my development (Forbringer, 2002).
  8. At my work, my opinion appears to count (Forbringer, 2002).
  9. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel that the work I do is important (Forbringer, 2002).
  10. My colleagues or associates are committed to doing their work in a high-quality manner (Forbringer, 2002).
  11. I have a best friend at work (Forbringer, 2002).
  12. In the last six months, someone at work has talked with me about the progress I make (Forbringer, 2002).
  13. In the last year, I have been given opportunities to learn and grow at work (Forbringer, 2002).

When discussing the Gallup Q12 questionnaire, it is essential to point out that the questions in it can be grouped into several categories. According to Forbringer (2002), these questions may be divided into four categories as described in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Classifying the Questions From the Gallup Q12 Questionnaire

Category Issues Addressed Outcomes and Implications
Level 1 (Questions 1-2) The most basic needs of an employee in the company that they work for Enables employees to concentrate and do their job
Level 2 (Questions 3-6) The contribution of a worker to their company, and degree to which the organization recognizes their worth The workers are recognized for their talent, and the latter is nurtured
Level 3 (Questions 7-10) Inclusivity and harmony with the goals of the organization, as well as with one’s colleagues and fellow employees The organizational culture finds its reflection in the workers of the company, which has a positive impact on both the separate workers and the organization as a whole
Level 4 (Questions 11-12) The actualization and realization of employees in the company The workers of the company possess a clear focus, and their efforts are directed at a certain common goal

Data Collection

To collect the data, the surveys were distributed to 45 employees working for the STAR Seychelles company. Out of these 45 questionnaires, 10 were discarded due to the fact that they were not completed by the participants. The remaining 35 forms were completed, and then collected by the researcher for further analysis. On the whole, the respondents taking part in the survey ranged in their position from cleaners to the manager. It is also important to point out the fact that all the participants were working as full-time employees for the said organization at the time of administering the survey.

Results and Analysis

On the whole, the collected data is analyzed in Table 2 below. The table shows the frequencies and percentages of responses of the participants of the study, as well as the means, the standard deviations, and the medians for the answers to each of the questions. In addition, for each question, the most frequent response to that question (the mode) is written in bold. It should be pointed out that to calculate the standard deviations, the formula for the sample was utilized (Warner, 2013), the reason for which is the fact that the respondents of the study constituted only a part of the workforce of the STAR Seychelles company.

Table 2. Frequencies and Descriptive Statistics for the Gathered Data

Strongly Disagree (1) Disagree (2) Somewhat Agree (3) Agree (4) Strongly Agree (5) Mean Standard Deviation Median
Question 1 3 (8.58%) 5 (14.3%) 10 (28.6%) 15 (42.86%) 2 (5.7%) 3.23 1.060 3
Question 2 2 (5.7%) 8 (22.86%) 10 (28.6%) 12 (34.3%) 3 (8.58%) 3.17 1.071 3
Question 3 8 (22.86%) 15 (42.86%) 5 (14.3%) 5 (14.3%) 2 (5.7%) 2.37 1.165 2
Question 4 10 (28.6%) 10 (28.6%) 7 (20%) 4 (11.4%) 4 (11.4%) 2.49 1.337 2
Question 5 2 (5.7%) 7 (20%) 8 (22.86%) 15 (42.86%) 3 (8.58%) 3.29 1.073 4
Question 6 15 (42.86%) 11 (31.43%) 4 (11.43%) 3 (8.58%) 2 (5.7%) 2.03 1.200 2
Question 7 2 (5.7%) 3 (8.58%) 7 (20%) 10 (28.6%) 13 (37.14%) 3.83 1.200 4
Question 8 5 (14.3%) 14 (40%) 12 (34.3%) 2 (5.7%) 2 (5.7%) 2.49 1.011 2
Question 9 12 (34.3%) 13 (37.14%) 6 (17.14%) 2 (5.7%) 2 (5.7%) 2.11 1.132 2
Question 10 2 (5.7%) 2 (5.7%) 9 (25.7%) 12 (34.3%) 10 (28.6%) 3.74 1.120 4
Question 11 8 (22.86%) 13 (37.14%) 10 (28.6%) 2 (5.7%) 2 (5.7%) 2.34 1.083 2
Question 12 12 (34.3%) 10 (28.6%) 8 (22.86%) 3 (8.58%) 2 (5.7%) 2.23 1.190 2

The results of the analysis are discussed below, separately for each of the categories into which the questions of the survey are divided according to Forbringer (2002). It should be noted that for most questions, good results of a survey would probably be well above 50%. For instance, in response to questions 1-2, in a normal situation, probably almost all workers would answer “agree” or “strongly agree,” because the questions reflect whether the basic components and tools required to do one’s work are provided for the employees.

Questions 1-2

Generally speaking, the results of surveying the employees demonstrate that the latter feel that even their basic needs for doing their job are satisfied quite poorly. Only 17 workers state that they know what is expected of them at work (15 respondents agree and 2 strongly agree), which means that 18 employees are not even sure what their employer wants them to do. Similarly, the mean that is only slightly greater than 3 (M = 3.23) demonstrates that the workers are not sure what their work is. Consequently, it might be possible to hypothesize that STAR Seychelles experiences some severe problems when it comes to organizational management and the distribution of information for the employees.

Similarly, the answers to Question 2 demonstrate that a large proportion of respondents are convinced that they do not have the equipment and materials which are necessary for them to be able to do their work correctly. Only 12 persons agree and 3 persons strongly agree that they have the necessary equipment and materials, whereas 20 people either somewhat agree, disagree, or even strongly disagree that they have these materials and equipment. The mean score of 3.17 also indicates that the situation in this company is rather severe, for STAR Seychelles do not seem to be able to provide their employees even with the basic tools needed to do their work.

All in all, the very basic conditions that the employees need to be able to work properly are provided only for less than a half of all the employees, according to the opinions of these employees. This may serve as an indicator of some rather serious problems in the company that need to be resolved as soon as possible, because these problems might prevent workers from doing their jobs.

Questions 3-6

When it comes to Question 3, employees feel that they do not gain an opportunity to do what they are capable of doing best; only 5 and 2 workers agree or strongly agree with the statement given in the question, respectively. The mean score for this question is very low: M = 2.37, with an SD = 1.165, which means that approximately 2/3 of the workers fall within the range from 1.205 to 3.535 points (that is, into the range of M ± 1 SD; Warner, 2013) with respect to agreeing that they are provided with the said opportunities at work.

The answers to Question 4 indicate that most employees were not praised or recognized at work. This might allow for concluding that the company does not make considerable efforts aimed at praising their workers and thanking them for the efforts that they make while doing their jobs.

Similarly, the results of the survey for Questions 5 and 6 show that only approximately one-half of the employees feel that they are cared about as individuals, and only nearly 14.3% of all the workers feel that their development is encouraged. On the average, the mean score for question 6 is M = 2.03, which is a very low score.

Therefore, it is possible to conclude that when it comes to recognizing the talent and achievements of the workers, the company of STAR Seychelles does not make significant effort to do so. The development of the workers is not encouraged and the employees do not feel that their work is appreciated or that they are valued as individuals. These responses also indicate that some severe problems with recognizing the talent and the efforts of the workers exist in STAR Seychelles.

Questions 7-10

The data gathered in response to Question 7 of the survey indicates that the majority of the employees agree (28.6%) or strongly agree (37.14%) that their opinion appears to count at work; in addition, 20% of workers somewhat agree with this statement. Only 14.3% of employees feel that their opinion does not seem to count. The mean score for this question is M = 3.83, with SD = 1.200, and the median is also higher than average (median = 4). Consequently, it may be possible to conclude that on the whole, most workers feel that their opinion counts in STAR Seychelles, which positively characterizes the company in this respect.

As for Question 8, nearly 3/4 of all the surveyed workers do not perceive the mission or the purpose of their company to help them to feel that the job they do is important. The mean score for this question is only M = 2.49, which is below the average. On the whole, this could be considered a surprising and strongly disappointing result, for the nature of the work that the company does, that is, waste management, is of pivotal importance in the contemporary world, for it helps preserve not only the environment but also the health and well-being of people living there, and the employees doing such unpleasant and dirty work should at the very least feel proud of the good that they do for the sake of others. The low scores on this question demonstrate that there exist some crucial problems in STAR Seychelles.

When it comes to Question 9, only 10 people on the whole either somewhat agree, agree, or strongly agree that their colleagues are committed to doing their work well. The rest 25 of the respondents (71.4%) either disagree or strongly disagree with this statement. The mean score of M = 2.11 is the second lowest mean of all the questions, and it is considerably lower than the average. These results are hardly surprising given the responses to Questions 1, 2, and 8 that were discussed above. This is yet another indicator of the problems existing in the company in question.

The responses to Question 10 demonstrate that most people (22, 62.9%) agree or strongly agree that they have a best friend at work; also, 9 individuals (25.7%) somewhat agree with this statement. The mean score here is M = 3.74, SD = 1.120. On the whole, this may be an indicator that the collective of workers in this company is quite friendly to one another. However, it might be possible to comment that the degree to which workers are collective to one another may depend more on workers themselves than on the management of the company.

To sum up, it should be stressed that when it comes to level 3, there are some significant issues with inclusivity and harmony within the organization in question. Workers do not believe that their job is important (which is surprising for the type of industry the company works in), and do not think that their colleagues do their work well. On the other hand, it is a positive tendency that employees believe that their opinions count and that the collective of employees appears to be quite friendly. Nevertheless, it is paramount to demonstrate to the workers how the job that they do is essential and highly beneficent for a large number of people on multiple levels, and to enhance their motivation to work.

Questions 11-12

These two last questions pertain to the personal and professional growth of the workers. Only 4 respondents (11.4%) agreed or strongly agreed that someone had talked to them about the progress they made in the last six months before the survey (Question 11). Similarly, only 5 participants of the study (14.3%) agreed or strongly agreed that they had been given opportunities for growth and learning at their work. Thus, on the whole, the workers of STAR Seychelles believe that there are not plentiful opportunities for them to develop and grow, which might also be characterized as a problem.

Conclusion and Recommendations

All in all, the results of the study that was carried out allow for providing the following answers to the three research questions pertaining to STAR Seychelles that were formulated above:

  1. Many employees in STAR Seychelles are not aware of what is expected of them in their workplace.
  2. It is apparent that the workers are not incentivized or rewarded for high performance while doing their job;
  3. Supervisors of the company do not make attempts to encourage their workers to enhance the performance of the latter.

It should be stressed that employee engagement plays a pivotal role in motivating workers to do their job in a high-quality manner and encouraging them to improve their effectiveness and efficacy. However, when it comes to the company of STAR Seychelles, the current study has demonstrated that the levels of employee engagement are, on the whole, quite low. Furthermore, more than half of the company’s workers are not even sure what is expected of them at work, and state that they do not have the necessary means to do their jobs, which is a situation that some might characterize as disastrous.

On the whole, there exist severe problems in the company of STAR Seychelles. The fact that the workers are unsure about their duties might be an indicator of poor organizational management on the whole, and inadequate provision of information throughout the organization. Indeed, if the managers cannot even explain to workers the duties of the latter or provide the necessary training, it also appears unlikely that any new information is effectually passed around the organization.

Furthermore, workers are not supplied with incentives and motivation to carry out their duties. It is apparent that financial motivation is also lacking, because if these employees received adequate salaries, this would probably instill some resistance to teasing in them. In other words, it appears less likely that people would be ashamed of a job where they make a decent amount of money. Also, exceptional performance is not rewarded additionally, which means the workers may simply lack material reasons to work hard, let alone employee engagement.

Next, the workers are not encouraged by their managers. They are not provided with opportunities to grow and develop. Even if the nature of the work of some employees might also limit such opportunities, it still may be possible to provide chance to grow in related areas. Additionally, the mindset of the workers should be changed; they ought to stop being ashamed of the work they do, and instead start being proud that they do this unpleasant, but extremely essential type of work, and that without them, their environment would turn into a completely disagreeable place, whereas they keep it clean and sanitary. However, as has been mentioned above, adequate financial compensation would be a considerable factor in battling such feelings of shame and promoting employee engagement instead.

Finally, it should be noted that the recommendations provided here are based on the findings of the study that was carried out in the company, but sometimes also on conclusions that appear to be the most likely explanations of the situation existing in STAR Seychelles. Thus, a more detailed investigation of the causes of the severe situation in the said organization might also be recommended. For instance, there may also be issues in the company related to a wide array of aspects of the work, e.g., logistics. Such an investigation might be rather useful for further developing methods to address the adverse circumstances within STAR Seychelles.

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