The Commitment of Generation Y Employees in United Arab Emirates

Introduction

Background

Generations of people emerge due to differences in experience, values, attitudes, ambitions, and mindsets. Changing demographic attributes in various parts of the world have a marked impact on human resources. As in other parts of the world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is experiencing changes in the demographic attributes of its population and consequently its workforce. A generational change is a major factor that influences the changes in the demographic attributes of the workforce. Generation Y is the latest generation in the workforce representing individuals born between 1980 and 1999 (Lim 2012). Approximately, the ages of individuals in generation Y range from 18 years to 37 years. Generation Y employees contribute significantly to the UAE workforce for they comprise about half of the population. According to Lim (2013), Generation Y employees constitute 45% of the workforce with an increasing rate of 9% annually. The entry of Generation Y employees into the workforce has considerable implications for they comprise a generation with unique demographic attributes. In comparison, the older generation (Generation X) and the younger generation (Generation Z) constitute 26% and 22% of the workforce in the UAE respectively. In this view, it is apparent that Generation Y is the dominant segment of the workforce in the UAE, and thus, contributes significantly to economic growth and development.

The analysis of Generation Y employees shows that they have unique attributes that make them stand out in their workplaces and shape the workforce of a country. In the workplace, Generation Y employees are youthful, and thus, they are the most productive employees (Holt, Marques & Way 2012). Essentially, Generation Y employees are youthful employees because their ages range from 18 years to 37 years. Moreover, since Generation Y comprises highly-educated and skilled employees, they are effective and productive in their work. Career growth and development are among the key dreams and achievements of Generation Y employees. Having been born in the era of information technology, Valentine and Powers (2013) describes Generation Y individuals as tech-savvy and highly connected to the global world for they own computers, laptops, tablet, and smartphones. They are also adaptable to change and versatile since they have established innovative ways of doing work, which is more efficient and effective when compared to the conventional ways (Viswanathan & Jain 2013). Generation Y employees are committed to their work if it provides opportunities for career growth and development, teamwork, and work-life balance (Flanagan 2015). As Generation Y employees saw how their parents (baby boomers) endured hardships in their workplaces, they are not willing to endure the same experience. Therefore, human resources managers ought to understand that Generation Y employees have unique demographic attributes, experiences, and expectations.

The commitment of employees in the workplace is subject to many factors including work-related and non-work-related factors. According to Queiri and Dwaikat (2016), Generation Y employees tend to quit their jobs due to the absence of empowerment, training, and career development. Given that Generation Y employees have unique attributes that define them, they do have non-work-related factors that influence their commitment in the workplace. Established non-work-related factors that influence the commitment of employees are economic status, spiritual values, gender, age, academic level, and job status. According to Nieuwenhuis et al. (2016), the economic status of the neighborhood in which employees stayed during their adolescent period influences their job commitment in future. In the aspect of spirituality, Dehaghi, Goodarzi, and Arazi (2012) hold that it increases the commitment of employees by enhancing loyalty, responsibility, and involvement. Regarding demographic attributes such as gender, age, job status, and academic level, numerous studies have established that they have a statistically significant influence on the commitment of employees (Affum-Osei, Acquaah & Acheampong 2015; Beloor, Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy 2017; Lee & Chen 2013). The extrapolation of these findings forms the basis of the current study, which aims to demonstrate that demographic attributes of family background influence the commitment of Generation Y employees.

Statement of the Problem

Human resources managers experience difficulties in the attraction, recruitment, and retention of Generation Y employees in various sectors and companies in the UAE. This study holds that family background is a factor that influences the commitment of Generation Y employees. However, most studies have focused on demographical attributes of employees but neglected the demographical attributes of family members. Owing to limited findings, the study hypothesizes that attributes of family background such as academic qualification of parents, paternal job level, wealth status, and sibling position are familial factors that influence the commitment of Generation Y employees. An Earlier study by Lee and Chen (2013) established that demographical attributes, which form part of the family background, have a marked influence on the commitment of employees in their respective workplaces. In their literature review, Beloor, Nanjundeswaraswamy, and Swamy (2017) noted that gender, age, education level, and job status are some of the demographical attributes that influence the commitment of employees in the workplace. An empirical study demonstrated that there is a statistically significant positive relationship between demographic attributes, such as gender, marital status, age, and academic qualification, and organizational commitment (Affum-Osei, Acquaah & Acheampong 2015). Despite the understanding of the influence of demographic attributes of employees on their commitment, human resources managers continue to grapple with the challenge of attraction, recruitment, and retention. Therefore, based on these findings, the current study seeks to find out if the family background of Generation Y employees in the UAE influences commitment in the workplace.

Additionally, numerous studies have established that work-related factors such as intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence the attraction, recruitment, and retention of employees (Lim 2012; Franco & Lyapina 2016; Ismail & Ahmed 2015; Mafini & Dlodlo 2014). However, studies demonstrating the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of employees in the workplace are limited globally and lacking in the context of the UAE. In their study among Dutch youth, Nieuwenhuis et al. (2016) found out that neighborhood poverty is a statistically significant predictor of the commitment of employees. In this view, exposure to neighborhood economic status at the adolescent stage determines the commitment of employees to their work later in life. According to Dehaghi, Goodarzi, and Arazi (2012), adherence to spiritual values influences the commitment of the employee to their organizations by increasing responsibility, loyalty, and involvement in the workplace. Thus, the study holds that neighborhood poverty and religious commitment are non-work-related factors that influence the commitment of Generation Y.

Purpose of Research

  • The purpose of the study is to establish the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE.

Research Objectives

  1. To determine the influence of demographic attributes of family background on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE.
  2. To determine the influence of neighborhood economic status on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE.
  3. To determine the influence of religious commitment of Generation Y employees on their commitment to work in the UAE.

Main Research Question

  • What is the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE?

Research Questions

  1. What is the influence of biographic attributes of family background on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE?
  2. What is the influence of neighborhood economic status on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE?
  3. What is the influence of the religious commitment of Generation Y employees on their commitment to work in the UAE?

Hypothesis

  1. Biographic attributes of family background have a statistically significant influence on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE.
  2. Neighborhood economic status has a statistically significant influence on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE.
  3. Religious commitment has a statistically significant influence on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE.

Scope

The study focuses on examining the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE. The study will examine how demographic attributes of the family background of employees, neighborhood economic status, and religious commitment of employees influence their commitment to their respective organizations. In the family background, the study will examine paternal academic qualification, paternal job level, wealth status, and sibling order. In neighborhood economic status, religious commitment, and employee commitment the study will use established scales with a high degree of reliability score. In this view, the study will not examine the influence of other non-work-related factors apart from demographic attributes of employees’ background, neighborhood economic status, and spirituality of employees. As the study targets Generation Y employees, the ages of employees targeted range from 18 to 37 years. In this view, the study will not examine employees older than 37 years. Moreover, the study will examine Generation Y employees who are citizens of the UAE, and thus, the study will not include expatriates in its sample population.

Literature Review

Generation Y

Generation Y comprises a significant proportion of the population across the world. Essentially, Generation Y comprises individuals who were born between 1980 and 1999 who have similar values, experiences, attitudes, and inspirations. In the UAE, Generation Y comprises 45% of the population with unique attributes that make them stand out in their workplaces (Lim 2013). The entry of Generation Y employees into the labor market of the UAE has significant implications because they represent a considerable proportion and possess unique attributes and needs. Born in the era of information technology, Generation Y individuals are techno-savvy and best-educated for they can easily access information on the Internet through smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers. With the experience gained from their industrious parents who are baby boomers, Generation Y individuals understand the dynamics of labor and have created innovative ways of performing their tasks (Ozcelik 2015). For instance, Generation Y individuals are inquisitive, creative, prefer teamwork, value career growth, and desire empowering environments in their workplaces (Flanagan 2015). According to Guillot-Soulez and Soulez (2014), Generation employees prefer organizations that provide opportunities for training, career growth, and talent exploitation. The preferences of Generation Y employees put a lot of pressure on human resources managers to adjust their conventional management strategies and adopt progressive and responsive ones in line with the dynamic needs of employees.

The analysis of labour market of the UAE shows that Emiratisation and retirement of Generation X have boosted the entry of Generation Y into the labour market. Demographics show that Emiratis and expatriates constitute 15% and 85% respectively of the workforce in the UAE (Lim 2012). Forstenlechner et al. (2012) assert that Emiratisation has increased the proportion of Emiratis in the labour market, and thus, contributing to a significant increase in the proportion of Generation Y employees (Forstenlechner et al. 2012; Kitana & Vhebi 2015). Thus, Emiratisation and the emergence of Generation Y employees have changed the attributes of employees in the labour market. Moreover, the retirement of Generation X employees in the past five years has led to their rapid decline from 35% in 2010 to 26% in 2015 (Lim 2012; Lim 2013). Therefore, statistics show that Generation Y employees are increasingly becoming the dominant segment of the UAE labour market. In this perspective, human resources managers have a challenge meeting the unique attributes of Generation Y employees in the UAE.

Commitment of Employees

The commitment of employees is one of the attributes that determine the productivity of employees and the performance of organizations. Essentially, commitment is the amount of passion that employees have towards their tasks, duties, and responsibilities in an organization (Nahm, Lauver & Keyes 2012). Human resources managers usually aim to promote the commitment of employees to improve their productivity and overall performance of an organization. Changing dynamics of employees in the UAE has a significant influence on the commitment of employees. Despite efforts of campaigning for Emiratisation, public and private sectors continue to grapple with the diminishing job opportunities among the nationals due to low commitment resulting in a massive decline of available jobs (Askary & Kukunuru 2014). With the emergence of Generation Y employees with unique needs, which require updated management strategies, the commitment of employees is hard to achieve. Human resources managers experience low commitment levels characterized by absenteeism, low interest, poor productivity, and lack of motivation. Askary and Kukunuru (2014) hold that commitment indicates the extent of creativity, innovativeness, profitability, satisfaction, and productivity of employees, and thus, reflecting their retention. In this view, commitment is an important parameter that reflects the utility of Generation Y employees in the workplace.

As a critical parameter in human resources management, commitment enables the determination of not only the retention of employees but also their productivity and performance. As experts have come up with numerous models of assessing commitment among employees, which have evolved and become complex to enhance validity and reliability of assessment (Baba & Sliong 2012). In 1991, John Meyer and Natalie Allen came up with a three-component model comprising affective commitment, normative commitment, and continuance commitment (Bouckenooghe, Schwarz & Minbashian 2015). Affective commitment measures the extent to which an employee is emotionally attached to an organization and identifies with its vision, mission, and goals. Normative commitment measures the degree to which employees feel obliged and indebted to an organization for receiving certain benefits and privileges. The aspect of continuance commitment measures the propensity of employees to remain in their positions owing to unfavorable loss associated with leaving. To enhance the validity and reliability of the commitment model, a five-component model was developed with passive continuance, active continuance, and value as additional aspects of measurements (Wong & Tong 2014). Active continuance measures the propensity of an employee to remain in an organization because it offers opportunities for training and promotion while passive continuance is the tendency of an employee to stay in an organization owing to a lack of better opportunities in other organizations. Value measures how employees perceive their value to their organizations and are willing to exert considerable effort.

Non-work-Related Factors

Numerous factors do influence the commitment of employees in their workplaces and organizations. The emergence of Generation Y employees with unique demographic attributes present challenges to human resources for they have complex needs related to non-work-related factors. According to Saha (2016), gender, age, academic qualification, marital status, and attitudes of employees are non-work-related factors that influence the commitment of employees to their organization. In this view, female, old, educated, and married employees are more committed to their organizations than male, young, uneducated, and single employees. Human resources managers employ these non-work-related attributes when recruiting employees that exhibit a commendable commitment to their work. Numerous studies have confirmed that gender, age, academic level, and marital status influence the commitment of employees (Beloor, Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy 2017; Affum-Osei, Acquaah & Acheampong 2015; Lee & Chen 2013). As these factors have been extensively studied and confirmed that they have a marked influence on the commitment of employees, the study seeks to examine additional non-work-related factors that influence Generation Y employees in the UAE.

Demographic Factors

Demographic factors related to the family background have a considerable influence on the commitment of employees to their organizations. In the UAE where there is a significant increase in the proportion of employees in Generation Y, human resources are grappling to understand the complex needs of employees. Lim (2012) avers demographic factors mediate the influence of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees. Since employees have family backgrounds, examination of the demographic attributes of their families depicts their experiences, values, and aspirations. Affum-Osei, Acquaah, and Acheampong (2015) recognize that demographic attributes surrounding the background of employees comprise experiences that shape their commitment to their respective work or organizations. The study holds that additional demographic factors, namely, academic qualification of parents, paternal job level, wealth status, and sibling order influence the commitment of employees (Kultalahti & Viitala 2014). In this view, consideration of the influence of demographic attributes on the commitment of Generation Y employees is critical.

Economic Status of Neighborhood

Neighborhood economic status influences the economic activities and the status of individuals in society. A study demonstrated that a significant relationship exists between unemployment rates and neighborhood economic status (Brattbakk & Wessel 2013). The socialization mechanism of learning through conditioning and imitation explains why the youth in poor neighborhoods are unemployed due to a lower job commitment than the youth in affluent neighborhoods (Manley 2013). In essence, exposure to poor neighborhoods creates negative attitudes among the youth resulting in low job commitment and unemployment. In a study performed among 429 Dutch youth to establish the influence of neighborhood on the commitment of employees, the findings demonstrated that exposure to poor neighborhoods during the ages between 16 and 21 years results in diminished job commitment at the age of 25 years (Nieuwenhuis et al. 2016). Such findings are novel for they reveal that neighborhood influences behaviors of individuals and determines their job commitment. Thus, the study of the influence of neighborhood economic status on the commitment of Generation Y employees is imperative in advancing the understating of employees in the UAE.

Religious Commitment

Religion is a personal matter that influences the commitment of employees because it determines the values, principles, morals, and norms that individuals espouse. Essentially, religious commitment measures the extent to which individuals comply with religious beliefs, values, and practices. Choerudin (2015) asserts that religious commitment comprises affective, cognitive, and behavioral dimensions that drive people to espouse certain values, principles, morals, and norms. The affective dimension of spirituality is the emotional status, which shows feelings towards certain aspects of their work. The cognitive dimension refers to the knowledge and understanding of religious tenets that form the basis of spirituality in an individual while the behavioral dimension represents how individuals espouse their religious beliefs in the workplace. In a study, religious belief, commitment, and behavior explain 8.2%, 16.7%, and 20.2% of the variation in organizational commitment (Choerudin 2015). The extent of the effect shows that religion has some influence on the commitment of employees. In a similar study, the findings demonstrated that spirituality promotes the commitment of employees to their work and organization for it enhances responsibility, loyalty, and involvement. As religious commitment is a non-work-related factor, this study aims to study its influence on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE.

Theoretical Framework

The theory that the study applies to the study of the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of employees in the UAE is the ecological systems theory. Urie Bronfenbrenner developed the ecological systems theory, which elucidates the nature of social systems that individuals operate and interact with resulting in behavioral changes (Bone 2015). The ecological systems theory holds that individuals live in a social environment comprising successive layers of social systems. At the inner circle, there is an individual under the direct influence of family, peers, and church at the microsystem layer. At the next layer, there is the mesosystem, which depicts the interaction of individuals and different social factors of the microsystem. Exosystem is the third layer of the social system comprising neighbors, politics, and social media. At the fourth layer, there is the macrosystem, which represents attitudes, norms, ideals, and values of a culture that shape individuals in the society (Musgrave & Woodward 2016). As the study seeks to examine the influence of family background, neighborhood economic status, and religious commitment on the commitment of Generation Y employees, the ecological systems theory is the appropriate theoretical framework. The theoretical framework below shows an adapted model illustrating religious commitment and family background as microsystem factors and economic status of the neighborhood as exosystem factors influencing the commitment of Generation Y employees.

Theoretical Framework
Figure 1: Theoretical Framework

Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework (Figure 2) depicts that family background, religious commitment, and neighborhood economic status are predictors of commitment of Generation Y employees.

Conceptual Framework
Figure 2: Conceptual Framework

Methodology

Research Design

The study will use a survey research design in the collection and analysis of the findings. In the collection of data, the study will use surveys with established scales that quantify family background, religious commitment, neighborhood economic status, and commitment of employees. In data analysis, the study will use descriptive statistics and inferential statistics in the presentation and interpretation of findings. The study seeks to use the quantitative approach in ascertaining the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE. According to Maxwell (2012), the quantitative approach is robust for it allows quantification of data and performance of inferential statistics. Creswell (2013) argues that the quantitative approach, as research design, offers a way of collecting accurate data that is not only valid but also reliable in making inferences. Given that the study aims to establish the influence of non-work-related factors, namely, family background, spiritual analysis, and neighborhood economic status, on the commitment of Generation Y employees. In ascertaining the strength and direction of relationships between dependent and independent variables, the qualitative approach is appropriate (Leavy 2017). Therefore, the study will use a survey research design and the quantitative approach in ascertaining the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees.

Target Population and Sampling

The study targets Generation Y employees in various organizations in the UAE. The generation Y employees are employees that have ages between 18 years and 37 years or rather employees born between 1980 and 1999. Lim (2013) holds that Generation Y represents a significant proportion of employees for they constitute 45% of the employees in the UAE. In this view, the inclusion criterion is that the employee’s target should belong to Generation Y. Another inclusion criterion is that the employees should be Emiratis. The study will employ simple random sampling in selecting participants of the study. As a probability method of sampling, simple random sampling gives employees an equal chance of selection, eliminates researchers’ biases, and promotes representation of the population (Creswell 2013). Thus, the study will target Generation Y employees in the UAE that meet the inclusion criteria and sample them using simple random sampling.

Sample Size Determination

The study will determine the sample size of the study using the formula for the infinite target population. In essence, the study will use Cochran’s formula [n = (Z/E)2 pq] in ascertaining sample size (Bernard 2012). In this formula, n is a sample size that is a function of critical value for the confidence interval (Z), margin error (E), the anticipated proportion of responses (p), and the anticipated proportion of none responses. In this case, the study will take a critical value for 95% confidence interval (Z = 1.96), margin of error (E = 0.05), the anticipated proportion of responses (p = 0.9) and anticipated none responses (q = 0.1), which gives sample size of 139 participants (n = 138.3). The sample size of 139 participants is adequate to represent the population of Generation Y employees randomly distributed among the workforce in the UAE. Therefore, the study will sample 139 Generation Y employees randomly and administer surveys to them.

Research Instrument

The study will design a questionnaire and use it in collecting data from Generation Y employees in the UAE. The questionnaire has established scales of family demographic factors, neighborhood economic status, religious commitment, and commitment of employees, which have been adapted to the study of the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees. In the measurement of the demographic factors of the family, the study will examine paternal academic qualification and job level, wealth status of a family, and birth order. The study derived these variables from numerous studies, which have established that demographic factors have a significant influence on the commitment of employees (Affum-Osei, Acquaah & Acheampong 2015; Lim 2012; Askary & Kukunuru 2014). In measuring the neighborhood economic status, the study will adopt six variables from Neighbourhood Economic Index (NEI) (Mode, Evans & Zonderman 2016). The six variables of NEI measures the proportions of households with unemployed, households having people of out employment, households receiving food relief, households earning less than $30,000 yearly, households without a car, and households in poverty. According to Mode, Evans, and Zonderman (2016), NEI has a very high internal reliability because its Cronbach’s alpha is 0.95. Hence, the reliability of NEI enhances the accurate measurement of the neighborhood economic status of Generation Y employees.

In the assessment of religious commitment of Generation Y employees, the study will use an established scale called Religious Commitment Inventory (RCI). This scale has 10 Likert statements that measure adherence to beliefs, values, and practices of religion among individuals (Miller, Shepperd & McCullough 2013; Alaedein-Zawawi 2015). The rating of each statement is on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5 where 1 indicates not at all true to true (Ajibade et al. 2015). In this view, the study will use RCI in assessing the commitment of Generation Y employees to their religious beliefs, values, and practices. In the measuring of commitment of employees, the study employed a five-component model comprising affective commitment, passive continuance, active continuance, normative commitment, and value commitment (Wong & Tong 2014). The model has 18 Likert statements measured on a seven-point Likert scale. The model is appropriate for measuring employee commitment because it assesses numerous variables.

Data Collection

The study will collect data from Generation Y employees who work in various organizations in the UAE. The study will seek permission from organizations in which it targets their employees and inform them about the essence of research to avoid undue conflicts. After sampling and recruitment of participants, the study will seek informed consent and administer a developed questionnaire (Appendix A). To enhance the collection, storage, and retrieval of data, the study will use Survey Monkey. The study will place a questionnaire in Survey Monkey and provide links to recruited participants via their emails. The data collection process will be complete once the number of complete surveys attains 139, which is the calculated sample size of the study. Researchers will then retrieve data from Survey Monkey and clean them for effective and accurate data analysis.

Data Analysis

The study will perform both descriptive statistics and inferential statistics in determining the influence of non-work-related factors on the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE. To aid in data analysis, the study will use the Statistical Program of Social Sciences (SPSS). Correlation and regression analyses enable the determination of strength and direction of relationships between variables of interest (Field 2013). Important variables in the study are family demographics, neighbourhood economic status, religious commitment, and employee commitment. Correlation analysis is essential in ascertaining the magnitude of relationships between variables. In inferential statistics, the study will use regression analysis to determine if family demographics, neighbourhood economic status, and religious commitment are statistically significant predictors of employee commitment of Generation Y.

Theoretical Contribution

This study will make a significant theoretical contribution since it will indicate how social systems influence the commitment of Generation Y employees in the UAE. In this view, the findings of the study will elucidate the mechanism of the ecological systems theory. In essence, the study will elucidate how religious commitment, neighbourhood economic status, and demographic attributes of a family are social factors in the ecological systems theory that determine the commitment of Generation Y employees. Moreover, the findings will contribute to theoretical development in human resources management for it will indicate that non-work-related factors also play a significant role in the commitment of Generation Y employees. As the study will provide empirical findings, it will contribute to the body of knowledge for students, researchers, and human resources managers to apply in their respective fields of interest. Given that the UAE is grappling with the challenge of unemployment, the findings will strengthen Emiratisation.

Practical Implications

The study will have significant implications to the realm of human resource management because the study seeks to venture into a novel field and reveal subtle factors that influence the commitment of Generation Y employees. Essentially, religious commitment, demographic attributes of family, and neighbourhood economic status are factors that studies of human resource management have neglected, and thus, little or no information is available regarding their influence on Generation Y employees. If the study confirms the hypotheses that family demographics, neighbourhood economic status, and religious commitment are statistically significant predictors of the commitment of employees, the practical implications of the findings are that human resources managers need to consider them in the recruitment of employees. In essence, by assessing family demographics, neighbourhood economic status, and religious commitment, human resources managers can predict the commitment of Generation Y employees. However, if the study finds out that family demographics, neighbourhood economic status, and religious commitment are not statistically significant predictors of the commitment of Generation employees, the implication is that the findings form the basis for further studies in other populations to establish the role of these factors in human resource management.

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