Effect Of Workplace Flexibility On Employee Engagement: A Study Of Covenant University
The aim of this research is to examine the relation between the availability of flexible work arrangements employee engagement of academic staff of Covenant University. The stud employed a survey research design. Simple random sampling technique was used in selecting 246 respondents for the study. The data for the study were collected through the use of structured questionnaire. The data generated were analyzed with the using descriptive statistics of mean, regression and spearman rank correlation. The result from the analysis showed that availability of flextime and flexi place leads to higher employee engagement and organizational commitment. The researcher recommended that organizations should consider the importance of dedicated employees and what return on investment they might receive for offering flexible work arrangements to their employees. Thus, the study concluded that the availability of flextime and partially flextime seems to enrich employee personal life, which, in turn, results in increase in employee engagement and organizational commitment.
1.1 Background to the Study
The growth of dual-earner households, as well as single-parent, single-earner households and other couples facing joint retirements, has significantly changed the relationship between work and family life in Nigeria and the world at large. Consequently, families where there is only one working class parent are no longer dominant (Bell, Rajendran & Theiler, 2012). Thus, it has become pertinent for companies to be able to provide their employees with good work-life balance. This has increased the interest of human resource experts in the concept of workplace flexibility.
The rapid development of globalization has increased the level competition in the business world and led to the advancement of technology which has made organizations more nimble and customer focused. This has necessitated that employees handle different jobs in order to ensure organizational growth at a minimized cost (Clarke, Kenny & Loxley, 2015). Employees who work in modern organizations are compelled to dedicate a high percentage of their available time to their work while balancing this with the need for self-growth and development, devotion to family responsibilities as well as their social life (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2014). A major attribute of the work-life balance concept is the time quota a person allocates to work. An average Nigerian worker who has his/her mind focused on making a comfortable living more often than not needs to work on different jobs because of the high level of poverty and high cost of living (Archibong, Bassey & Effiom, 2010).This has increased the stress levels of the average Nigerian employee and has sometimes caused personal damages to their health (Fapohunda, 2014). When there is a balance in the all-round life of an employee, there is less conflict between work and family roles (Jamadin, Mohamad, Syarkawi & Noordin, 2015).
The issue of workplace flexibility cannot be narrowly explained. It has been described and defined in the various diverse facets. In the past, the concept was linked to the study of women that were engaged in multiple roles (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2014). From 1960, the emergence of two income earning households opened the need for a change from the traditional workplace to more flexible work schedules that allowed employees to address both their personal and professional needs (Idris, 2011). As the rate of women entering the professional workforce increased with the economic crash in 1971, personnel managers started creating policies that allowed for flexible work schedules in terms of the hours worked (Marafi, 2013). The creation of a flexible work schedule allowed for the creation of a new work style and redefined ‘’work/life’’ balance, ensuring that generations to come focus not only on the growth of their careers but also on the roles they play within their family (Kangure, 2014). In Nigeria, employees especially women have increasingly been faced with work family conflict across various sectors. Their inability to find an appropriate balance in their work and personal lives has negatively affected their personal relationships with their family and has caused divided attention at work which leads to poor job engagement (Abdulraheem, 2014).
According to Beardwell and Clayton (2007), employee engagement is the emotional commitment employees have towards their organisation and the efforts they make to accomplish the organisation’s success. Levison (2007) opined that engaged employees are the spine of a good working environment where people are productive, ethical and accountable. Engagement can affect employees’ attitudes, work attendance and turnover levels as several research done have demonstrated the relationship between engagement and productivity, increasingly pointing to a high correlation with individual, group and organisational performance, a success measured through the quality of customer experience and customer loyalty (Frese, 2008). However, keeping employees engaged in the education industry has become a challenge given the monotonous nature of most education jobs and the long hours required in terms of work input (Alhija, 2015).
The growth of the education industry all over the world has improved the brand positioning of educational institutions which has led to the rapid increase in demand for educational services globally. As such, modern educational services are now flexible and do not always require physical presence of either the educator or the students/customers receiving the service (Abdulraheem, 2014). Furthermore, the integration of technology into educational services offered recently means that educational services are now less rigid and less structured to fit the specific demands of consumers. Educational services like long-distance learning and Part time learning are based on the flexibility of educational services that do not require a rigid and constant presence of the service provider (educator) or the consumer (student) and are not based on a rigid time schedule (Awais, 2017). Additionally, the innovation and advent of educational service operations like webinars and web lectures mean that employees in the education industry can be flexible with their duties and operation (Clarke, Kenny & Loxely, 2015). However, despite this advancement in technology in the educational industry worldwide, the Nigerian educational system seems to have embraced these inventions without creating a flexible working structure for their employees. According to Adesulu (2017), the average employee in the education industry in Nigeria spends about 13 hours at work per weekday and some even on weekends.
The lack of flexibility in the education industry has affected the roles and responsibilities employees in the education industry play in their families and if not handled properly can affect their performance at work. Therefore, this study aims to examine the extent to which workplace flexibility affects employee engagement.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
According to Stroups and Yoon (2016), a component of an effective workplace is access to family-friendly workplace policies. Workplace flexibility (vacation, job shifts and working hours) potentially provide employees with the platform to succeed at work while accomplishing and fulfilling personal roles such as family responsibilities or educational pursuits. Furthermore, employees are entitled to flexible working hours so as to function effectively without any form of exhaustion.
However, most employees working in the education industry in Nigeria do not have the luxury of being flexible in their workplaces (Abdulraheem, 2014). Some employers in the education industry do not recognize the fact that their employees are not machines and as such cannot consistently work round the clock throughout the year (Adam, 2015). Most employers in the education system industry in Nigeria seldom give vacations to employee’s especially nonteaching staff. This leaves many staff disgruntled and less committed to the organization.
Abdulraheem (2014) also noted that to keep employees engaged there needs to be flexibility when it comes to the work schedules of employees. Alhija (2015) noted that the jobs of employees in the education industry are monotonous and boring. He noted that they were not inventive enough to draw upon the employee’s creativity. Consequently, most employees in the education industry in Nigeria have become less enthusiastic about their jobs and become less involved in their jobs emotionally and psychologically.
In addition, most employers in the education industry engage staff in very tedious work without break. The employees that go through this most are employees in educational institutions that earn low wages and are not even paid for extra shifts. Most employees in the education industry are faced with rigidity of their working hours in their respective workplace (Awais, 2017).Thus, there is a lack of flexibility in scheduling working hours including overtime or extra work hours, starting & quitting time and lastly lack of control over break time. In most cases, this makes the employees not attain set goals as the employees easily gets burnt out at work (Archibong, Bassey & Effiom, 2010).
Despite evidence of how destructive employee disengagement can be, studies from the human services field on employee flexibility and engagement are limited. Surprisingly, little academic and empirical research has been conducted overall, and a large portion of it comes from the business management community (Saks, 2006). To address this problem, more research that focuses specifically on the engagement levels of employees as it concerns workplace flexibility in an organization is necessary. Empirical data is needed so that professionals can better understand workplace flexibility and employee engagement and use what they learn about it to develop managerial interventions and alternative strategies that foster engagement for human services workers. Therefore, in response to this problem, this study proposes to investigate the effect of workplace flexibility on employee engagement.
1.3 Objectives of Study
The main objective of this research is to examine the extent to which workplace flexibility affects employee engagement.
Specifically, this study aims to:
- To determine the significant effect of vacation on employee commitment.
- To evaluate the significant relationship between job shift and job involvement.
- To examine the significant relationship between flexible working hours and employee performance.
1.4 Research Questions
The study will aim to answer the following questions:
- What is the effect of vacation on employee commitment?
- Is there a significant relationship between job shift and job involvement?
- Is there a significant relationship between flexible working hours and employee performance?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
These hypotheses would be tested in the course of this study and have been designed to guide this study:
- H0: There is no significant effect of vacation on employee commitment.
- H1: There is a significant effect of vacation on employee commitment.
- H0: Job shift has no significant relationship with job involvement.
- H1: Job shift has a significant relationship with job involvement.
- H0: Flexible working hours have no significant relationship with employee performance.
- H1: Flexible working hours have no significant relationship with employee performance.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be significant to the following people:
This research will be useful to the management of Covenant University in that it would further enlighten the management on ways in which the staff engagement can be improved upon to achieve their goals and targets.
Furthermore, the study will be significant to the education industry as it will show the need for the working environment in the education industry to be flexible in order to improve the employees’ engagement and overall performance.
Not only that, the study will be significant in showing the government the importance of establishing a convenient working environment for public sector employees.
Moreover, the study will contribute to the expansion of existing knowledge on this area of study. It would also provide useful starting/reference points for future researchers and a sound basis for intellectual exercise.
1.7 Scope of Study
The scope of this study shall cover employee engagement as it relates to workplace flexibility in the education industry in Nigeria. Therefore, the target population are the non-academic staff of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. The study adopted Covenant University as a case study due to the fact that it is one of the leading Universities in the education industry and such the work flexibility patterns they adopt and their effect on their employees’ engagement needs to be studied. The study will adopt the simple random sampling technique while data will be analysed using the regression analysis. The geographical location of the study will be Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. Finally, the study would be carried out between January 2019 and April 2019.
1.8 Operationalisation of Research Variables
Y = f(X)
Y= dependent variable
X= independent variable
X= Workplace flexibility
From this equation, employee engagement is dependent on workplace flexibility.
Employee engagement = f(workplace flexibility)
That is EE = f (WF)
Where Y = Employee engagement
y1= Employee commitment
y2= Job involvement
y3= Employee performance
x2= Job Shift
x3= Flexible Working Hours
1.9 Definition of Terms
A place where people work, such as an office or factory.
The quality of bending easily without breaking.
This is a situation whereby employers and employees make arrangements about working conditions that suit them.
Telecommuting is also called telework, teleworking, working from home, mobile work, remote work, and flexible workplace, is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store.
Shift work is work that takes place on a schedule outside the traditional 9 am – 5 pm day.
Flexible Working Hours:
The most common flexible hours arrangements are: Flexible hours or flexi-time schemes.
It denotes an employee’s enthusiasm for the company he or she works for.
Job Involvement refers to the psychological and emotional extent to which someone participates in his/her work, profession, and company.
A person employed for wages or salary, especially at non-executive level.
This is an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time.
Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
This chapter concludes the reach work by summarizing chapter one to five, providing, recommendations or suggestions for furthers studies, conclusion, limitations of the study and suggestions for further studies.
5.1 Summary of the Study
The study examines the effect of flexible work place on employee engagement. The study was divided into five chapters. Chapter one cover the background of the study, objective of the study, research questions and hypothesis, significant of the study, scope of the study and operational definitional of term. The chapter two cover the review of relevant literature of previous studies that has been conducted in the same related topic both the conceptual, theoretical and the empirical review. The chapter three presents the research methodology which covers the research design, population of the study, sample size and sampling techniques, sample frame, method of data collection, research instrument, pilot study, validity of research instrument, reliability of research instrument, method of data analysis.
The chapter four covers with the data analysis, presentations and interpretations of the results. The chapter also discussed the result of the major findings of the study. The chapter five covers summary, conclusion, recommendations, implication of findings, contribution to knowledge and limitation of the methodology.
5.2 Summary of Findings
This sub-section presents the summary of the theoretical and empirical finings of the study.
5.2.1 Summary of Theoretical Findings
The literature reviewed in chapter two, showed the following:
- The concept of work flexibility, vacation, job shift, flexible work hours.
- The concept of employee engagement, employee commitment, job involvement, employee performance.
- The importance of work place flexibility, its advantage and disadvantage.
- Types of employee commitment which includes affiliative commitment, associative commitment, nominative commitment, affective commitment and structural commitment.
- The benefits of these practices to the parties involve that is, the employee and the employer.
- The theories used in explaining the concepts and the relationship between the dependent and the independent variables. The border theory and the spillover theory was used.
5.2.2 Summary of Empirical Findings
- The first hypothesis tested: the effect of vacation on employee commitment. Using linear regression techniques, the result of the analysis shows that vacation has positive and significant effect on employee commitment in the organization. Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected in favor of the alternate hypothesis. The result of the model is (F = 66.858; p-value = 0.000)
- The second hypothesis tested: job shift has no significant relationship with job involvement. Using spearman rank correlation analysis, the result of the analysis showed that there is positive and significant relationship between job shift and job involvement. The result of the correlations analysis is (coeff. = 0.369; p = 0.00).
- The third hypothesis tested: flexible work hour have no significant relationship with employee performance. Using spearman rank correlation analysis, the result showed that Flexible working hours have significant relationship with employee performance. The result of the analysis is (coef. = 0.511; p = 0.000)
In line with the findings of this research that flexible work place has positive and significant effects on employee engagement; the study put forward the following recommendations.
- Organizations should consider the importance of dedicated employees and what return on investment they might receive for offering flexible work arrangements to their employees.
- The management of the university should consider the impact that flexibility practices have on employees with a wide lens. If the nature and the implementation of flexibility are likely to negatively influence employee well-being it is reasonable to assume, they will reduce their performance as well. Although flexibility can have very positive impacts, overlooking these issues may be limiting their potential.
With an ever-changing workforce that includes many individuals trying to balance their careers with familial responsibilities and outside interests, organizations that want to attract and retain top talent need comprehensive benefits to set them apart. Flexible workplace arrangements are attractive to employees and show an organization’s commitment to the employee’s life outside of the workplace. The growing availability of flexible work arrangements means that more people are able to enter the workforce. Organizations may think of flexible work arrangements as only influencing those who use them, but this study shows that the availability of these arrangements leads to engagement of employee. Thus, the availability of flextime and partially flextime seems to enrich employee personal life, which, in turn, results in increase in employee engagement and organizational commitment.
5.5 Limitation of the Study
Regard the methodology, the study made use of questionnaire to generate its primary data from the non academic staff of covenant University. Statistical techniques of descriptive analysis,spearman rank correlation and regression were utilized for data analysis. It should be noted that findings of the study is basically limited to non academic staff of Covenant University.
5.6 Suggestion for Further Studies
In the order to widen and enrich empirical literature on effects of work place flexibility on employee engagement, further studies are recommended to look into these areas:
- The study covered Nigerian educational sector with special emphasis on non academic staff of Covenant University. Other studies can broaden the scope to capture other University especially the public Universities, Polytechnic and Colleges of education.
- The study can be replicated in other industries such as banking industries, Oil and Gas, Insurance, Consumer goods firms amongst others.
- Future research might explore how the flexibility one needs to interacts with other aspects of job satisfaction and autonomy and whether this varies across age, gender, work experience and designation of the employee.
- Future study should employee different statistical tools such as the chi-square, logistics regression to see if similar findings can be obtained.
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