Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction

Abstract

Employee engagement is often associated with an improvement in organizational performance. This study examined how different engagement strategies (intrinsic and extrinsic) relate to job satisfaction levels of new employees. It involved a survey of 20 respondents drawn from two different firms. One of the firms had an established employee engagement program while the other did not. The study found that, between the two groups, engaged employees were more satisfied with their positions than disengaged ones. Intrinsic methods were also found as more effective than extrinsic strategies.

Introduction

It is a well-known fact that an engaged employee is a productive and inspired worker. Appropriate employee engagement methods promote hard work and dedication to the firm. Companies have begun to realize that, besides staff motivation, engagement drivers are essential in improving organizational performance and reducing turnover. Engagement drivers vary between organizations, industries, and even cultures. In addition, generational differences determine the type of engagement that can be effective for employees of a particular age group. The purpose of this study is to determine how engagement levels in a firm influence the job satisfaction levels of new employees.

Literature Review

Studies suggest that engaged employees are more satisfied with their jobs than disengaged ones. According to Mishra, Boynton, and Mishra (2014), appropriate engagement strategies enhance job satisfaction and employee retention rate. Engaged employees, unlike motivated ones, exhibit high job satisfaction and, thus, perform beyond the expected level. Firms can use intrinsic or extrinsic methods to engage their employees (Soni, 2013). Intrinsic methods include things like greater freedom and informal workplace environments that create a sense of contentment with one’s job profile and career path (Soni, 2013). In contrast, extrinsic approaches involve rewards such as pay increments or promotions for workers who meet performance goals. It uses performance metrics to select employees eligible for a reward.

The aim of employee engagement is to increase job satisfaction, which would make employees perform better in their job. Intrinsic methods create a sense of belonging among employees, which translates into enhanced organizational commitment (Handa & Gulati, 2014). On the other hand, extrinsic engagement methods aim at increasing job satisfaction through better compensations for good performers. An appropriate engagement strategy takes into account the needs, skills, and characteristics of the employees (Holbeche & Springett, 2003). Thus, in order to create a certain level of satisfaction, engagement should address the respective needs of each employee category.

Employee needs are very diverse, which means that firms should use multiple staff engagement strategies. Arrowsmith and Parker (2013) observe that generational differences in the modern workforce warrant different engagement strategies for each age set. Younger employees are joining the workforce value fast career growth and higher remuneration while older ones prize job stability. This shows that a single engagement strategy cannot lead to enhanced job satisfaction in all employees. Research shows that employees dissatisfied with their position, workplace environment, and work responsibilities are more likely to leave the organization than motivated ones (Gubman, 2004). The current study examined the effect of employee engagement on job satisfaction.

Hypotheses

  1. Null hypothesis: employee engagement has no effect on the job satisfaction levels of new employees.
  2. Alternative hypothesis: employee engagement has a significant effect on the job satisfaction levels of new employees.

A finding that engaged employees is more satisfied with their work than disengaged ones will lead to the confirmation of the null hypothesis and the rejection of the alternative hypothesis.

Method

Participants

The study participants were newly hired employees joining the workforce of two IT firms. One of the firms had an established engagement strategy for new employees, while the other did not. A convenient sample of 10 participants (male and female) from each firm volunteered to participate in this study. The participants were young graduates aged between 19 and 24 years and first-time employees. They were separated into two groups based on the presence or absence of employee engagement in their respective firms.

Design

The study employed an exploratory research design to investigate the effect of employee engagement (independent variable) on job satisfaction (dependent variable). The participants in the two groups differed in terms of exposure to employee engagement. The firm with engaged employees utilized both intrinsic and extrinsic methods. Data collection involved survey questionnaires that were mailed to consenting participants.

Procedure

A permission letter to conduct the study was sought from the respective management of the two firms. The human resource management provided the biographical data and email addresses of newly hired employees. An email request to participate in the study was sent to employees meeting the inclusion criteria. This helped protect subject anonymity and obtain informed consent from willing participants.

Subsequently, a survey questionnaire containing ten closed questions was sent to consenting participants via email. Respondents could give a yes/no answer or rate their satisfaction on a Likert scale. The choice of online questionnaires was meant to achieve a high response rate. Each respondent was required to indicate his/her satisfaction with his/her job profile, workplace environment, remuneration/benefits, and management practices. Each participant was required to return the completed questionnaires within a week. The results of the survey are discussed below.

Results

This study examined one main research question, namely, does employee engagement increase the job satisfaction levels of new employees? To address this question, mean scores of the engaged group were compared with those of the disengaged employees. The key variables compared were compensation, management practices, job profile, and working environment. The results of the survey are displayed in tables 1 and 2 below.

Table 1: Engaged employees’ job satisfaction indicators.

Variable Satisfied Unsatisfied
Compensation 9 1
Management practices 8 2
Job profile 10 0
Working environment 9 1

Table 2: Disengaged employees’ job satisfaction indicators.

Variable Satisfied Unsatisfied
Compensation 9 1
Management practices 4 6
Job profile 2 8
Working environment 1 9

The respondents’ satisfaction was measured based on the four variables. The number of employees satisfied with their compensation was the same in both groups (mean = 9). However, the number of engaged employees who indicated that they were satisfied with their firm’s management practices were twice the disengaged ones. A comparison between the two groups of employees is shown in the figure below.

A comparison of job satisfaction between engaged and disengaged employees.
Figure 1: A comparison of job satisfaction between engaged and disengaged employees.

All respondents from the firm with an employee engagement program were satisfied with their job profile. In contrast, only 20% of the employees from the firm without an engagement program indicated that they were satisfied with their job responsibilities. Additionally, 90% of the employees from the engaged group were satisfied with their working environment and conditions. On the other hand, only 10% of disengaged employees indicated that they were satisfied with the working conditions in their firm. Overall, job satisfaction was higher among engaged employees in all the four measures (mean = 9) than among disengaged ones (mean = 4), suggesting a strong correlation between employee engagement and job satisfaction. Thus, the results are consistent with the alternative hypothesis stated earlier.

Discussion

This study examined the correlation between employee engagement and job satisfaction. It should be understood that the data was collected from 20 employees drawn from two companies with different employee engagement programs. The study’s null hypothesis suggested that employee engagement would have no impact on job satisfaction levels. However, the results indicate that employee engagement has a positive correlation with job satisfaction, a finding that is consistent with the suggested alternative hypothesis.

In this study, employee engagement (both intrinsic and extrinsic) was found to have a significant effect on employee satisfaction with a firm’s management practices, job profile, and working environment. Previous studies indicate that proper engagement strategies increase the job satisfaction of employees, which reduces turnover rate (Mishra, Boynton & Mishra, 2014). In this study, intrinsic engagement methods, namely, the working environment, HR practices, and job profile, were found to have a significant effect on job satisfaction levels of the employees compared to compensation. This suggests that, for younger employees, organizational practices and working conditions have a bigger impact on job satisfaction than compensation (Soni, 2013). However, this finding should not be generalized because the study was limited by its small sample size. Future studies should compare the effects of employee engagement and motivation on job satisfaction.

Conclusion

Employee engagement methods, both intrinsic and extrinsic, help enhance employee performance in organizations. In this study, intrinsic employee engagement was found to increase job satisfaction among new employees. This implies that a good working environment, better organizational practices, and flexible job profiles make new employees more satisfied with their work, which reduces turnover.

References

Arrowsmith, J. & Parker, J. (2013). The meaning of ‘employee engagement’ for the values and roles of the HRM function. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(14), 2692-2712. Web.

Handa, M. & Gulati, A. (2014). Employee Engagement. Journal of Management Research, 14(1), 57-67. Web.

Holbeche, L. & Springett, N. (2003). In Search of Meaning in the Workplace. Horsham: Roffey Park. Web.

Gubman, E. (2004). From engagement to passion for work: The search for the missing person. Human Resources Planning, 1(3), 42-46. Web.

Mishra, K., Boynton, L. & Mishra, A. (2014). Driving Employee Engagement: The Expanded Role of Internal Communications. International Journal of Business Communication, 51(2) 183-202. Web.

Soni, S. (2013). Employee Engagement: A key to Organizational Success in 21st Century. Voice of Research, 1(4), 51-55. Web.