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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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1.1.1 Context and rationale for the study

MF is an employment agency and has an extensive database of motivated employees, who can be deployed in various sectors and functions. Whether it concerns a quick reception of (seasonal) peaks or temporary replacement due to illness, a permanent job or a pool of experienced temporary workers; MF ensures that the right person arrives at the right place in an organization at the right time.

Here, the engagement with the employees who go to work via MF is very important, but is this connection also there?

Within MF an employee is placed about 1.4 times, so most of the employees have one job and when they want another job they do not come back to MF. Here is the problem, MF would like people to go back to work through MF and become more connected to MF, because at this moment this is not the case, and is MF sufficiently involved with the people who have a job via MF? research shows that employees can make the difference in employee engagement.

The topic is focused on employee engagement, which further impact on the commitment towards MF (Elstad, 2003). According to the article “The purpose of employee engagement” (Ruddick, 2012), the author mentioned that the importance of employee engagement can't be overstated, this due the fact that employee engagement strategies have been proven to reduce staff turnover, improve efficiency and productivity, makes more profits and retain customers at a higher rate. Most important, engaged employees are happier, at work as well as in their lives. When you're engaged, it infuses everything you do with energy, enthusiasm and energy.

Employee engagement is not a quick fix and it can't be accomplished with only a employee survey, a change in procedure, a motivational training course or a HR initiative. It requires an investment in time, energy en commitment from every person within the organization to drive and sustain it. Only a change in the way an organization thinks, behaves and acts will achieve employee engagement (Alan M, 2014).

Within the employment agencies there is a lot of competition, organization engagement is an important aspect to grow into. Moreover, several studies have shown that engaged employees will be less likely to be tempted by other employment agencies. This due the fact that most of the time employees come to work and will do what is asked them to do or if they have work the contact is stopped. They feel no meaningful attachment to their job or employment agency and thus will easily be tempted by other vacancies or employment agencies.

1.1.2 Problem description

MF is one of the largest, regionally operating employment agencies in the Northern Netherlands. MF is director of work in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. MF stands for Mutua Fides, in other words mutual trust. This is the starting point of the actions. MF is a reliable and committed partner and employer for clients who are searching employees and employees who are working via MF. Where others choose for centralization, MF deliberately choose for branches in the region. This due the fact that MF wants to be close to their clients and candidates.

The problem is when people get a job via MF, the employees who are working via MF will not get their second job via MF or if they want something else. It may be that someone wants something different in his or her career, MF can play a big role in this. Within MF an employee is placed about 1.4 times, so most of the employees have one job and when they want another job they do not come back to MF. The aim is then to increase this percentage and employee engagement is the basis for this. When the employee who is working for MF feel more engaged to MF, they would more likely come back to MF if they want another job.

The world of work is changing rapidly. Aging, hazing, digitization, globalization and the changing government are creating great dynamism. The number of permanent jobs is decreasing and the need for flexible solutions is increasing. One thing remains: people make the difference!

Being involved and connected with the employees, MF can really make a difference in the world of work.

Involvement is a force that binds the individual to behavior that is relevant to one or more goals. (Meyer & Herscovitch, 2002). Involvement is a stable, connecting force that gives direction to someone's behavior. The most important behavior-related consequence of involvement is the continuation of the relationship with the employee. The nature of the force can be seen as a mind-set; it is about an attitude that directs the behavior of an individual in a certain direction.

This is also the success factor for MF. The employee must feel familiar with MF and thus engaged.

1.1.3 Purpose and relevance of the study

The purpose of this study is to explore ways that can be taken in order to increase the employee engagement between MF and the employees who are working via MF. First, it is important to explore how satisfied the employees who are working via MF, if they feel engaged with MF and if they have the feeling MF is concerned with them. After that, it is time to create improvements; what is needed?

Using the results of this study, conclusions will be drawn and advice will be given on how to increase the employee engagement among MF and employees who are working via MF. First the researcher will track down how it is with the employee engagement. With the results, recommendations can be given about how MF can improve de employee engagement.

1.2 Literature review

In this subchapter, the most important ground factors / variables and related indicators that influence employee engagement will be described.

1.2.1 Definitions of employee engagement

According to Grundemann (2009), good employer ship is important for employee engagement. The most characteristic of good employer ship concerns the culture within the organization: a lot of attention for respect and an open way of communicating. A second aspect of good employer ship has to do with custom work in the employment relationship. Finally, paying attention to the development and growth of the employees, both though training and by offering challenge range of duties.

The open culture is of great importance to create employee engagement. This means having respect towards the employees: taking employees serious, trust, listen, knowing what is going on and care and appreciate the employees.

An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work. In his book, Getting engaged, author Tim Rudlegde (2008) explains that truly engaged employees are attracted to, and inspired by, their work (“I want to do this”), committed (“I am dedicated to the success of what I am doing”), and fascinated (“ I love what I am doing”). Engaged employees care about the future of the company and are willing to invest the discretionary effort to see that the organization succeeds. Today there is a widespread agreement among academics that engaged employee are those who are emotionally connected to the organization and cognitively vigilant.

Employee engagement also affects the mindset of people. Engaged employees believe that they can make a difference in the organization they work for. Confidence in the knowledge, skills and abilities that people possess- in both themselves and others- is a powerful predictor of behavior and subsequent performance.

Robinson, Perryman and Hayday (2006) define engagement as “a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organization and its values. An engaged employee is aware of the business context, works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit on the organization. The organization must develop and nurture engagement, which is a two-way relationship between employer and employee. They say that engagement overlaps with commitment and organizational citizenship behavior, it is a “one step up” from commitment.

Wellins and Concelman (2004) call employee engagement “the illusive force that motivates employees to higher levels of performance”. This coveted energy is similar to commitment to the organization, job ownership and pride, more discretionary effort, passion and excitement, commitment to execution and the bottom line.

According to Alan (2014)  employee engagement can be separated into four categories of engagement:

▪ Work engagement: This refers to all tasks an employee has

▪ Task engagement: Employees have different tasks at work and can have different levels of engagement in different tasks

▪ Organization engagement: Employees can be more or less engaged in their organizations regardless of their work engagement

▪ Team engagement: Employees may not feel fully engaged in teamwork despite being highly engaged in their individual work

1.2.2 How to bind an employee to an organization?

In order to bind employees, Minzberg (2004), thinks it is important to know what is happening among employees and what the trends are. A large part of every generation of employees want to be their own boss, they would like to shape their development by themselves. Such an employee will therefore preferably to work somewhere to develop themselves. Learning is beyond the certainty of a fixed job at an organization. The organization has in fact become a development place.

According to Minzberg (2014) there are four important communication factors for every generation:

1. Choose accessible media, communication and tools.

Set up media, communication and tools that at the time of the desired action jointly reach at least 90% of the target groups and are easy to use for them.

2. Make your messages easy.

People need to be able to easily and quickly decide whether it is relevant to them.

3. Switch on the environment.

It is important that the message is delivered in a credible way. As a person or organization, you can therefore ask yourself whether you are the designated messenger.

4. Adequate triggers work.

If you want people to do something: be specific, make it easy and get a trigger. We also call these triggers 'nudging'. The less time between stimulus and what you have to do, the better.

An organization that wants to keep engaging employees will have to accept that they do not always act and choose logically and consistently. The organization will have to make an effort to know what motivates people, actively respond to them and sell them well. Attracting people means asking what they want, not what is right for them. It shows more respect to keep people in front of a mirror and then ask them what they really want to do. Staying engaged requires constant effort, everything forces organizations to remain alert and to constantly monitor how people's needs are developing. (Allen, 2015)

According to Bruel and Colsen (2006), employee engagement cannot be forced. Mission and identity have to be tempting, not intrusive, but even then not every employee will be hundred percent behind it. To bind employees, the identity and mission must remain clearly tangible. Even when changes occur in an organization, it is important that the mission and vision are recognizable remains.

1. Connect your employees to an engaged purpose that is written for them

2. Measure engagement regularly

3. Show that engagement is a permanent focus, not just a passing trend

4. Listen to your team on their terms

5. Take action on quick wins

1.2.3 Communication with employees

According to Maki & Gilligan (2018), Good communication is an essential tool in achieving productivity and maintaining strong working relationships at all levels of an organization.

Employers who invest time and energy into delivering clear lines of communication will rapidly build trust amongst employees, leading to increases in productivity, output and morale in general. Poor communication in the workplace will inevitably lead to unmotivated staff that may begin to question their own confidence in their abilities and inevitably in the organization.

Maki & Gilligan paraphrase communication in a certain aspects to create clear communication and a good working atmosphere:

Define goals and expectations – Managers need to deliver clear, achievable goals to both teams and individuals, outlining exactly what is required on any given project, and ensuring that all staff are aware of the objectives of the project, the department and the organization as a whole.

Clearly deliver the message – Ensure the message is clear and accessible to the intended audience. To do this it is essential to speak plainly and politely – getting the message across clearly without causing confusion or offence.

Choose the medium carefully – Once the message is created it is important to ensure it's delivered in the best possible format. While face to face communication is by far the best way to build trust with employees, it is not always an option. Take time to decide whether information delivered in a printed copy would work better than an email or if a general memo will suffice.

Keep everyone involved – Ensure that lines of communication are kept open at all times. Actively seek and encourage progress reports and project updates. This is particularly important when dealing with remote staff.

Listen and show empathy – Communication is a two-way process and no company or individual will survive long if it doesn't listen and encourage dialogue with the other party. Listening shows respect and allows to learn about any outstanding issues that may need to address as an employer.

As reported by Kreitner, R. & A. Kiniki, (2014), Leaders must communicate a clear vision. People want to understand the vision that senior leadership has for the organization, and the goals that leaders or departmental heads have for the division, unit, or team. Success in life and organizations is, to a great extent, determined by how clear individuals are about their goals and what they really want to achieve. In sum, employees need to understand what the organization's goals are, why are they important, and how the goals can be attained. Clarity about what the organization stands for, what it want to achieve, and how people can contribute to the organization's success is not always evident.

“Organizations should strive to maintain the reputation and demonstrate high ethical standards. People want to be proud of their jobs, their performance and their organization. “ (Kreitner & Kiniki, 2014)

According to Wil Michels (2016) Communication plays a fundamental role in all facets of business. It is therefore very important that both internal communication within the organization as well as the communication skills of your employees are effective. Wil Michels defines the following six reasons why effective communication should be an important focus:

Builds and maintains relationships

Relationships are build and can be maintained by positive encounters with others. Communication will be the key to this process, without effective skills, it will be difficult to properly construct and foster productive relationships.

Facilitates innovation

When employees feel comfortable in openly communicating new ideas, cooperation and innovation will be at an all-time high. In addition, if employees are unable to convey their ideas due to limited communication skills, it is likely that the idea will not be implemented to its full potential.

Builds an effective team

If open communication within a workplace is encouraged, a more cohesive and effective team will emerge. Good communication within a team also tends to boost employee morale. When employees feel that they are well informed of the organization, they feel more secure within their role. Regular internal communication can also lead to an improved work ethic if employees are remined of achievements and feel that they are working towards common goal.

Managing employees

When an organization is an effective communicator, they are more able to inform employees adequately of their responsibilities and what is expected from them. Good communication skills also helps to provide constructive feedback to employees, build better relationships, and understand personal goals that employees may wish to work towards.

Contributes to growth of the company

A lack of communication can lead to the collapse of any organization. Without proper marketing collateral and communication internally and externally, most organizations struggle to survive. Communication can also lead to productivity and helps to avoid unnecessary delays in the implementation of policies.

Ensures transparency

When regularly communicating both internally and externally, organizations remain more transparent. This is important in building trust in your brand, in your services and also internally when it comes to the trust that employees have in higher management. Tony Debu from Examiner adds that “When tough decisions need to made, transparent organizations will have an easier time explaining why”.

1.2.4 loyalty between leader and employee

According to Jacob K. Eskildsen & Mikkel L. Nussler  (2010) , Leaders should provide challenging and meaningful work with opportunities for career advancement. Most people want to do new things in their job. For example, do organizations provide job rotation for their top talent? Are people assigned stretch goals? Do leaders hold people accountable for progress? Are job enriched in duties and responsibilities? Good leaders challenge employees; but at the same time, they must instill the confidence that the challenges can be met. Not giving people the knowledge and tools to be successful is unethical and de-motivating; it is also likely to lead to stress, frustration and ultimately lack of engagement.

Job satisfaction, a widely researched construct, is defined as a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experiences (Dessler, G 2009). The Gallup Organization (2015) begin their discussion of engagement by using the term loyalty-satisfaction, but drop the satisfaction from the term. Generalized job satisfaction has been shown to be related to other attitudes and behaviors. Positively, it is related to organizational loyalty, job involvement, organizational citizenship

behaviors and mental health. Negatively, it is related to turnover and perceived stress.

The construct of employee loyalty lacks clarity as to the level of analysis it represents. The major strength of the argument made by Jacob K. Eskildsen & Mikkel L. Nussler , (2010) researchers in all their publications is the relationship loyalty to productivity, profitability, employee retention, and customer service at the business unit level.

Organizational loyalty is the degree to which an individual identifies with an

organization and is committed to its goals. Loyalty has been shown to be related to voluntary employee turnover. It is also seen as crucial to individual performance in modern organizations that require greater self-management than in the past (Fisher, C.D. & E.A. Locke, 2011)

According to Salanova, M & Peiró, J (2005), Loyal employees turn out to be the most satisfied and productive employees in practice. They are one with the company, are part of the history of the company and know the paths to be walked on their thumb. And by being one with the company, loyal employees play a crucial role in the company's 'inspiration'.

Ultimately it is all about the way the organization acts towards the employees and the way in which employees are treated. It concerns the relationship, the psychological contract, between the organization and the employee. The employee has to discover for himself why he has committed himself to the organization, what were his or her motivations to work for the organization? The pride of working for the organization must be sustain and made tangible for the employee.

It is of high importance that the unique added value of the employee becomes visible, because here comes the pride and the will to perform from the employee. The fact that the uniqueness of the employee matters determines whether the employee will stay or not.

According to Payne & Webber (2003) loyalty manifests itself in two forms:

1. In the form of an attitude. An attitude is an mindset. A positive attitude of a loyal employee makes it likely that he / she recommends the company to others and that he / she encourages others to also use the product / service of the company. It also provides more mouth-to-mouth advertising, a smaller chance that the employee will go somewhere else.

2. In the form of behavior. The behavioral component is expressed in the intention of repetition and retention.

1.2.5 Motivating employees

According to Ramlall, S. (2010). there are four motives that underlie motivation:

1. The motive to acquire: the gathering of material and immaterial matters that we find valuable

2. The motive for bonding: the desire for relationships with other people

3. The driving force for learning: the desire to explore the environment and our own minds

4. The motive to defend: to protect the material and immaterial things that we have.

The degree to which the drives are satisfied has a direct effect on emotions and thereby also on the behavior. In order to fully motivate employees, the organization must respond to all four motives. (Ramlall, S. 2010).

Maslow's need hierarchy theory of 1954 was one of the most influential theories, which left its mark on thinking about work motivation (Watson, 1986). Maslow suggested that when individuals develop, they will show different needs each time, a ladder of five levels of needs is creeped up, see figure 1.  Every person has basic needs or physiological needs survival that must be fulfilled. After these basic needs are met, according to Maslow, people will successively focus on satisfying higher levels of needs to finally reach the fifth and highest level of the hierarchy, self-actualization (Watson, 1986).

Figure 1. Pyramid of needs

Work motivation, according to Vroom, V.H. (2011). Has to do with the energy of a person to do his job. Work motivation therefore has a forward dimension or forward energy. There is something of enthusiasm. That is why people often speak of motives in motivation.

According to Vroom, there are four dimensions of motivation: economic motivation, social motivation, growth motivation and cultural motivation. Economic motivation is focused on the appreciation that someone gets for the work, salary, physical working conditions and job security play a role in this The social motivation is focused on recognition and status, the employee wants to gain prestige in society.  

Growth motivation is a motivation in which you can lose something of yourself in your work, which should yield self-esteem and self-development. Culture motivation is aimed at working with others to achieve a common goal. Employees are involved in the organization. These dimensions of motivations are subdivided into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

1.2.6 Conclusion

Throughout the years, there has been done many research about employee engagement. Engaged employees are broadly intrinsically motivated. Identity, continuity, community and meaning are important for being engaged. These employees are proud of the organization where they work. The values and norms of an organization plays an important role in this. For an organization it is important that all groups of employees are present within the organization.

To bind employees it is important that an organization makes the values and standards of the organization clearly tangible and recognizable. It is also important that they receive input and responsibility, so they will feel more involved with the organization.

Loyal employees turn out to be the most satisfied and productive employees in practice. They are one with the company, are part of the history of the company and know the paths to be walked on their thumb. Organizational loyalty is the degree to which an individual identifies with an organization and is committed to its goals, it is related to organizational loyalty, job involvement, organizational citizenship behaviors and mental health. Thus by being one with the company, loyal employees play a crucial role in the company's 'inspiration'.

Motivating employees asks for continuing to meet the needs of employees in the workplace. Developing opportunities play a role here, but also a good work-life balance. As can be read before, Maslow suggested that when individuals develop, they will show different needs each time. Every person has basic needs or physiological needs survival that must be fulfilled. After these basic needs are met, according to Maslow, people will successively focus on satisfying higher levels of needs to finally reach the fifth and highest level of the hierarchy, self-actualization. In addition, it is important to keep communicating with the employees, so an organization will know what will be going on with the employees.

Good communication is an essential tool in achieving productivity and maintaining strong working relationships at all levels of an organization. Organizations who invest time and energy into delivering clear lines of communication will rapidly build trust amongst employees, leading to increases in productivity, output and morale in general. Communication in a certain aspects to create clear communication and a good working atmosphere:

▪ Define goals and expectations

▪ Clearly deliver the message

▪ Choose the medium carefully

▪ Keep everyone involved

▪ Listen and show empathy

Therefore it important to make sure there are a few aspects what is important to improve the employee engagement: creating more employee loyalty, work motivation, better communication and binding the employees who are working via MF. In addition, making sure to understand the needs of the different employees.

1.3 Conceptual model

The conceptual model represented below is an analytical scheme which presents the different concepts that were described in the literature review. The model shows that there are four important aspect what creates employee engagement: Communication, binding, motivation and loyalty.

1.4 Project definition

1.4.1 Problem statement

The problem statement of this research is:

How can MF increase the employee engagement ?

The reason this problem statement is build is because the employee engagement with MF has to increase and improve. This due the fact that there is not enough employee engagement between MF and employees who are working via MF. There is a lot of competition within the employment agencies, organization engagement is an important aspect to focus on. Loyalty is important to retain the employees and to be ahead of the competition.

1.4.2 Research questions

In order to be able to answer the above mentioned problem statement, the following research questions were conducted:

1. How is the binding at this moment of employees at MF?

2. What about the motivation of the MF employees?

3. How is de communication between employees and MF?

4. Are the employees feeling loyal towards MF?

Chapter 2: Method

In this chapter, a description will be given on the type of research, the type of instruments, the complete process of the data collection, the data analysis and the ethical considerations that are faced during the research.

2.1 The choice of the research

The type of this research is a descriptive research. Within this research, the problem of employee engagement will be described and ways to improve will be given.

This research will contain qualitative data. Text will be collected and observations will be done in order to draw relevant conclusions about this problem.  The reason for qualitative data is because qualitative research is more descriptive in nature and focuses on interpretations, experiences and meanings of the employees (Yu, 2008). The qualitative research style is usually interpretative. The goal is not so much to test the theories, but rather to gain insight in the different interpretations and opinions that the employees have who are working via MF.

2.2 Instrument

For this research, qualitative data is going to be collected. This in order to cover the information of all four phases: binding, motivation, communication and loyalty. To collect the needed data, interviews are going to be held.

This aims to ensure that all interviewees are interviewed under the same circumstances and asked the questions in exactly the same way. This increases the validity of the interview (Baarda, 2014).

The reason the researcher has chosen for interviews, is due the fact that the researcher can talk to the employees and gain more knowledge about their opinion. The information the researcher want to collect is how active employees of MF really think about the engagement among MF and the employees, wat do the employees need to feel engaged? With this interviews the researcher measures all the opinions and feelings to create a clear overview and can make recommendations.

The interviews will be held with active employees who are working for a certain time for MF. The detailed interview questions can be found in appendix 1. With the data the researcher will receive the opinions, feelings and meaning of the employees with open questions. The employees can say everything what they want. With open questions the researcher can ask more questions to create a deeper conversation, these data will be processed in text. This because it will give a clear overview of the data.

2.3 Population, Sample, Sampling method

The population of this research are the active employees who are working for MF. The sampling method for this research will be purposive sampling. This type of sampling is a profitability method and will happen when the sample is selected by the researcher. The reason the researcher has chosen for this method is because only a small number of people can provide the data that will be useful for discovering the problems around employee engagement.

Probability sampling is a sampling technique, in which the subjects of the population get an equal opportunity to be selected as a representative sample.

Implementing this method for this research, purposive sampling will be effective. This due the fact that a selective group of employees can provide the data that is helpful to find out de problems among employee engagement within MF. The researcher will examine circa 10 employees who are working via MF.

2.4 Procedure / Data collection

The interviews will be held separate from each other, this due the fact that the employees need to feel safe to speak up. The researcher will inform the employees about the research to increase the employee engagement within MF and that it is done in order to be able to finish the International Hospitality Management, with the question if they want to anticipate. The researcher will  ask the employees for making an appointment at a suitable date, time and information. Furthermore, the employees will be informed that the interviews will be recorded to draw relevant conclusions. the researcher will mention beforehand that the recorded interviews only will be used for the researcher.

2.5 Data Analysis

Coding will be the data analysis method that will be used to analyses the interviews.  Coding is a method that will focus on the text what is gathered and the context of it. The process involves creating different codes based on the knowledge, understanding and reading of the collected data. There are five steps that include coding (Boeije, 2009):

1. Preparation: Oral text has to be fully transcribed and all the text has to collected. All the transcribed text has to be put in a word document.

2. Reading: It is important to get a feeling about the text by forehand of doing anything else. To make connections and links in the texts, questions has to be asked.

3. Open coding: Fragments have to be selected and explained by meaningful codes. All the text has to be reread with a pencil; highlighting the text, circle, using symbols and underline. As a result, the whole text will be coded.

4. Axial coding: The codes has to be described and compared and the fragments of the text needs to be reread. A decision has to be made on the main issues and the secondary issues. The result will be in a matrix  with categorized codes.

5. Selective coding: In this last step of coding, a hierarchical structure has to be made with themes and subthemes. The researcher will go back to the problem statement and the research questions and a decision has to be made on which results will answer the questions. For the structure of the chapter: results, themes and subthemes exist.

2.6 Ethical considerations

During this research, ethical issues will not occur. The research will be held with the employees of MF, the researcher is at this moment already familiar with the sample. When the interviews will be held with the sample, the researcher will mention beforehand that the recorded interviews only will be used for the researcher. There will also be asked by the researcher for permission of eventual personal information. When the sample prefers to do the interview anonymously, it is also possible.

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