Factors Influencing Employees Job Engagement in UAE

Factors Influencing Employees’ Job Engagement in UAEName





TOC o “1-3” h z u Factors Influencing Employees’ Job Engagement in UAE PAGEREF _Toc374046419 h 1Introduction PAGEREF _Toc374046420 h 3Employee Job Engagement PAGEREF _Toc374046421 h 5Impact of Leadership Style on Job Engagement PAGEREF _Toc374046422 h 5Impact of Performance Assessment on Job Engagement PAGEREF _Toc374046423 h 7Impact of Compensation and Welfare on Job Engagement PAGEREF _Toc374046424 h 9Impact of Training and Development on Job Engagement PAGEREF _Toc374046425 h 10REFERENCES PAGEREF _Toc374046426 h 12


With the arrival of new economic times in UAE and across the globe, competition among enterprises is increasingly fierce. In order to keep a strong market footing and sustainable operational improvement, enterprises and everywhere are gradually realising that talents are the key factors of remaining competitive (Bakker and Laiter, 2010). Today, more and more UAE enterprises have started to conduct researches on job engagement with a view to improving job performance and satisfaction (Kaplan et al., 2009). This has given popularity to the field of positive psychology. This is due to its utility in understanding employee behaviours and how such behaviours can be adjusted to realise high productivity. In recent years, managers and researchers are gradually realising the great impact that positive psychology has on improving business performance in UAE (Bakker and Leiter, 2010; Warr and Inceoglu, 2012). Through positive psychology employers are able to rollout new employee welfare programmes to boost employees’ morale and hence their ability to remain focused and committed to organisational goals.

Under the backdrop of this realisation, job engagement as a business management concept has become very popular in UAE as well as in the western world. Job engagement pays attention to the individual’s positive attitude towards the job. This exerts a significant impact on the business performance and can greatly improve job efficiency and retention rate (Rich, Lepine and Crawford, 2010). Therefore, it is necessary for UAE enterprises to try to improve employees’ job engagement by rolling out programmes that address the individual, group and family needs of the employees.

The concept of employee engagement is multidimensional. Attridge (2009) posits that “the concept of employee work engagement describes the extent to which workers are involved with, committed to, and passionate about their work” (p.1). For Bakker and Leiter (2010), employee engagement is a concept of managing contemporary enterprises that involves increasing the overall involvement of employees towards the organisational goals. Normally, employee engagement is measurable in terms of how employees positively or negatively attach themselves emotionally to workplace processes, people and the organisation in general. However, it should be noted that employee engagement is very different from employee satisfaction or employee motivation but motivation and satisfaction forms part of employee engagement (BlessingWhite, 2011). From these closely related arguments it can be concluded that the concept of employee engagement which is also referred to as worker engagement or even employee job engagement is a set of positive attitudes towards the organisation, its vision, mission and values.

Employee engagement is a function of multiple factors. Conventional knowledge gathered from multiple sources in UAE show that employee engagement is normally influenced by factors that have a direct bearing on the employees compensation levels and welfare at the workplace (see for example Bakker and Leiter, 2010; Muller and Trannoy, 2011; Warr and Inceoglu, 2012). This is an indicator that UAE organisations that embrace collectivism and other worthwhile, modern human resource management practices such as share-based employee loyalty programmes strengthen their long term strategic standing while those that do not practice this are at a disadvantage.

Employee Job Engagement Researchers in UAE and across the globe have put forward multiple definitions and dimensions of employee engagement. For instance, Wefald and Downey (2008) defined job engagement as the ability for organisational members to control themselves to integrate with work related roles. From this definition, it can be deduced that self and work role are actually in a dynamic process of transformation. When job engagement is relatively high, individuals will input the energy to role behaviour (self-employment), and express self in role (self-expression). Based on this point, Kahn further divided job engagement to physical, cognitive and emotional dimensions. Kim, Shin and Swanger (2008) redefined job engagement as the omission of burnout. They regarded burnout and engagement as two external points of a three-dimensional continuum and divided job engagement into three dimensions of energy, involvement and efficacy. On their part, Schaufeli et al. (2002) defined the concept of job engagement as a kind of durable perfect state full of positive emotion and motivation characterised by vigour, dedication and absorption. Based on the above discussions, it can be summarised that job engagement refers to the state of mutually satisfying contentment among employees. Employee engagement is a facet of emotional attachment. Studies in UAE show that actively engaged employees have strong emotional attachment towards both the organisation and the values it stands for. A 2010 study by BlessngWhite shows that only about 31 percent of all employees are emotionally attached to their jobs (BlessingWhite, 2011).

Impact of Leadership Style on Job Engagement

Leadership style refers to the different characters expressed by leadership in the long-term operations process of an enterprise. The leadership style varies a lot from one enterprise to another. Mainly, there are three typical kinds of leadership styles including autocratic leadership style, democratic leadership style and laissez-faire leadership style (Albrecht, 2011; Wang and Chen, 2005). Democratic leadership style can further be broken down into transformational and transactional leadership facets (Vugt et al., 2004). Overall, a leadership style shapes the employer-employee relationships and makes the workplace more accommodative.

Trust is an important facet of democratic leadership styles as shown by a survey conducted by BlessingWhite (2011) in China – trust creates a sense of entitlement and belonging among employees (Tims, Bakker and Xanthopoulou, 2011). BlessingWhite (2011) found that most of employees would like to have more chances to engage in their jobs because they considered that leadership is an important factor in employees’ job engagement. Further, the study found that about two thirds of all employees working for various organisations in UAE reported to have trust in their organisation’s leadership. This was the second highest show of trust on organisational leadership after India (with 75 percent) and ahead of Southeast Asia (with 62 percent), Australia/New Zealand (with 55 percent), North America (52 percent), and UK/Europe (50 percent). Further, the study found that 3 in every 4 UAE employees have trust in their managers, an almost similar trend with the situation in other major markets of the world. On their part, Ludwig and Frazier (2012) found that when employees can connect with the destiny and purpose of enterprises, they will possess high level of engagement with high aspirations. Through conducting research on ten thousand employees in UAE, researchers have found that a sense of being involved and valued is a significant driver of job engagement. It has been achieved that leadership qualities can help organisations achieve high level of engagement (Markos and Sridevi, 2010). It is arguable that leadership and management styles have a great impact on employee engagement because employees tend to trust leaders and managers are capable of setting a good organisational culture and inspiring them to greater heights.

Impact of Performance Assessment on Job EngagementPerformance assessment entails a set of systematic procedures undertaken to evaluate employees’ productivity against set goals. Most UAE organisations regularly appraise the performance of their employees against a set evaluation criteria (Denisi and Pritchard, 2006). This criterion does not only evaluate organisational performance but also the employees’ behaviour at the workplace and their ability to work in different work environments (Manasa and Reddy, 2009). Results of such appraisal are then used by the management to place employees in the most appropriate sections of the organisation where they can achieve their maximum production capacity, retrenching off unproductive employees, rewarding hardworking employees and rolling out new programmes for enhancing workplace performance (Muchinsky, 2012). Normally, performance assessment is carried out once every quarter or once every year as may be determined by the existing organisational culture. Data for performance assessment is collected by use of questionnaires or even interviews and analysed through easy to understand data analysis methods such as descriptive statistics or even coding (Armstrong and Baron, 2005). Nevertheless, care should be taken so that performance assessment enhances employer-employee relationships and not ligations which normally arise when managers use performance appraisal drills to settle personal differences with employees by giving hardworking employees lower performance rating while giving less working ones higher performance rating. This is true since Gruman and Saks (2011) confirmed that employees’ perception on the fairness of performance assessment drives can affect individual and organisational performance including job satisfaction, job engagement, organisational commitment and loyalty to organisational values and trust to supervisors.

Performance assessment is a critical facet of employee engagement. Armstrong and Baron (2005) considered that performance management is an effective measure to improve employees’ overall performance. These authors are in harmony with a finding by Schraeder et al. (2007) who found that performance assessment is regarded as a crucial component that employers should use to monitor employee commitment and to improve their overall attachment to their tasks. On their part, Gruman and Saks (2011) argue that performance appraisals are one of the best ways to measures organisational productivity. Gruman and Saks agree that like in institutions of learning workplace performance appraisals offer employees the opportunity to re-examine their skills relative the set organisational objectives and therefore make the necessary improvements. Specifically, studies carried out by Muchinsky (2006) and Denisi and Pritchard (2006) show that performance assessment can be used as benchmark for collective goal setting and performance enhancement exercises. The organisation can engage employees from both an individual and group level with a view of revisiting their performance appraisal results and identifying common goals which address employees and organisational needs. On the same note, results derived from performance appraisal drives in UAE can help organisations make the necessary communication, a precursor to sustainable employee engagement (Schraeder et al., 2007). Such communication should aim at highlighting job-specific expectations as well as broad organisational expectations and how better the employees can fulfil such expectations.

Impact of Compensation and Welfare on Job Engagement

Compensation can be defined as all forms of pay given to employees arising from their position in an organization. This definition does not however cover non-financial benefits but includes both direct and indirect financial compensation (Nnazir, 2012). Compensation through diverse means such as monetary and non-monetary rewards, benefits and performance geared management practices contribute significantly to increases in employees competencies which ultimately translates into an organizations competitive edge and better employee welfare (Castellano, 2001; Muller and Trannoy, 2011). Robinson, Perryman and Hayday (2004) argued that compensation and welfare include all kinds of properties, service and material benefits of any forms. For individual, compensation and welfare are not only the reward for work, but also the affirmation of personal ability and achievement. Schaufeli and Bakker (2004) pointed out that compensation and welfare are designed to encourage employees to work for the shared objectives. Holbeche and Springett (2003) proved that compensation system is obviously related to job engagement; and the fairness of compensation and welfare is positively related to job performance.

The importance of compensation and welfare especially in today’s competitive and dynamic economic environment cannot be simply wished away when determining factors that play a critical role in the success of increasingly global and complex organization. In a survey conducted by WorldatWork in conjunction with Watson Wyatt Worldwide, comprehensive data analysis showed that compensation plays a key role in determining the success of an organization by differentiating it from its competitors, driving positive organizational performance especially during economic recessions, underscoring internal consistency and increased efficiency and effectiveness as a result of increased job engagement (WorldatWork, 2011). Arguably, these critical success indicators were associated with a dedicated workforce that understands its roles in enhancing organisational performance and the overall achievement of organisational goals. This is true since organisational performance is attributable to a committed workforce (Warr and Inceoglu, 2012), it can be deduced that organisations that pay their employees good salaries and also address their welfare experience low employee turnover and high job engagement.

Impact of Training and Development on Job EngagementEmployee training and development are two important facets of human resource management. Training is the wholesome process of collective set of activities which are designed to impart information among employees. It is a phenomenon that requires a comprehensive and detailed understanding of all organisational transformations (Brum, 2007). Increased emphasis of training in today’s business structures has however come with its own controversies and still ignites heated debate among professionals and scholars alike. Two schools of thoughts have emerged on the effect it has on employee and organizational goals. One school of thought argues that training leads to increased employee turnover while the other views training as a tool that leads to high levels of employee retention (Becker, 1993). Development on the other hand is an organised usually life-long approach used to match employee’s goals and wants with the businesses long and short term goals in support of workforce development initiatives (Virginia, 2012).

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