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The Impact of Workforce Diversity on Employee Engagement: The Case of Company X

| January 20, 2017

A Brief Synopsis

The focus of this research is to determine the impact of workforce diversity on employee engagement, with particular emphasis on Company X. Today’s challenge is not to simply retain employees but to engage them fully; hence, the organisation is tasked to capture the minds and hearts of its diverse workforce at every phase of their work lives.  Workforce diversity pertains to employee’s heterogeneity in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics (Saha, 2006). Employee engagement, on the other hand, is the extent of their commitment to a particular thing or person in their organisation, the level of their work, and the length of time of their stay as a result of such commitment (Lockwood, 2007). Employee engagement can be a deciding factor to drive business success in today’s global competitive market, and since workforce diversity is a common scenario in many organisations, there is a corresponding need to allot a fuller attention to this aspect. Further, employee engagement does not only create a significant impact on employee retention, loyalty, and productivity, but it also serves as a key link to customer satisfaction and overall stakeholder value (Lockwood, 2007; Attridge, 2009).

Rationale of the Research

In this globalised age, an individual’s engagement with and enthusiasm for his/her work is very important. Organisations have grown to provide the resources needed by employees as well as the opportunities to learn new skills in order promote employee engagement within the workplace. It is necessary that employees feel that their work is meaningful and that they have a rewarding interaction with co-workers and supervisors. Companies with high-average levels of engagement are more productive and bring about highly satisfied customers. To manage workforce diversity, organisations introduce equal opportunity programmes and diversity management (Robbins et al., 2009).

Moreover, as the global environment becomes increasingly borderless, organisations find it more and more important to attract, engage, develop, and retain talents. The changing relationship between employers and employees drive HR professionals to identify and understand employees’ needs and preferences and ascertain how these needs could be met whilst also leveraging workplace talents thoroughly (Lockwood, 2007).

The urgency and need for a research on this topic is clearly brought out by the fact that a diverse workforce is more difficult to manage than a homogenous one (Bilmes and Gould, 2009), and hence, they might encounter barriers in being engaged to their work as a result. This research will identify the impact of such diversity on the levels of engagement that employees tend to have in a diverse workplace.

This research is also justified by the fact that the contemporary workplace is commonly focused on raising productivity and competitive advantages, to which an engaged workforce is proved to play an important contribution (Macey and Schneider, 2008). On the other hand, finding out how workforce diversity affects employee engagement, and in turn, productivity and competitive advantages, would be a good avenue to introduce new policies and strategies to address identified barriers.

Research Gap

Employee engagement has been a broad focus of study in the academic literature. The meaning of employee engagement remains ambiguous amongst practitioners and academic rese­­­­archers (Macey and Schneider, 2008). There is a gap between policies and practice in the strategic management of the HR function in some organisations, (Bhatnagar 2007) mentions, which can be filled by a study on employee engagement and workforce diversity like this current one.

Additionally, recent research trends indicate a need for more research on workplace diversity to examine the challenges surrounding the diversity concept and how employees can become more engaged in the midst of such diversity (Byrd and Scott, 2014).

 Research Questions

The research questions that this study will address are the following:

  • What is the impact of workforce diversity on employee engagement in Company X?
  • How are employee engagement and workforce diversity utilised in Company X in order

to gain competitive edge in the increasingly global marketplace?

  • What is the extent of HR efforts in fostering an integration of employee engagement and workforce diversity in Company X?

 Objectives

The objectives of the research are outlined below:

  • To review the extant literature on the concept of employee engagement and workforce diversity;
  • To present a case study research on employee engagement amongst a culturally diverse workforce and how the latter influences the former; and
  • To explore the ways in which strategic HR may enable an organisation to benefit from a diverse workforce through employee engagement.

Dependent Variable

The dependent variable in this study is employee engagement. The dependent variable serves as the status of the outcome, on which the research is focused (Babbie, 2011).

Independent Variable

The independent variable is workforce diversity. It is the variable that logically has some impact on the dependent variable described above (e.g. Cargan, 2007).

Intervening Variable

An intervening variable (also called ‘mediating variable’) serves as a causal chain between dependent and independent variables (Rubin and Babbie, 2011). The intervening variable in this study is competitive advantage.

Hypotheses

Below are the hypotheses for this study:

  • The impact of workforce diversity on employee engagement is competitive advantage.
  • Well-integrated employee engagement and workforce diversity lead to increased productivity and competitiveness.
  • Strategic HR programmes can enable integration between a diverse workforce and employee engagement.

References

Attridge, M. (2009) Measuring and Managing Employee Work Engagement: A Review of the Research and Business Literature. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 24 (4), 383-398.

Babbie, E. (2011) The Basics of Social Research. Mason, OH: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Bhatnagar, J. (2007) Talent Management Strategy of Employee Engagement in Indian ITES Employees: Key to Retention. Employee Relations, 29 (6), 640-663.

Bilmes, L. J. and Gould, W. S. (2009) The People Factor: Strengthening America by Investing in Public Service. Washington DC: The Brookings Institution.

Byrd, M. Y. and Scott, C. L. (2014) Diversity in the Workforce: Current Issues and Emerging Trends. New York: Routledge.

Cargan, L. (2007) Doing Social Research. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Catwright, S. and Holmes, N. (2006) The Meaning of Work: The Challenge of Regaining Employee Engagement and Reducing Cynicism.  Human Resource Management Review, 16 (2), 199-208.

Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., and Rich, B. L. (2010) Linking Job Demands and Resources to Employee Engagement and Burnout: A Theoretical Extension and Meta-Analytic Test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95 (5), 834-848.

Lockwood, N. R. (2007) Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role. Strategic Human Resource Management Research Quarterly. Retrieved on June 23, 2014 from http://www.shrm.org/research/articles/articles/documents/07marresearchquarterly.pdf

Macey, W. H.  and Schneider, B. (2008) The Meaning of Employee Engagement. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 1 (1), 3-30.

Robbins, S. P., Judge, T. A., Odendaal, A., and Roodt, G. (2009) Organisational Behaviour in Southern Africa. Second Edition. Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa (Pty) Ltd.
Saha, J. (2006) Management and Organizational Behaviour. New Delhi: Excel Books.

Rubin, A.  and Babbie, E. (2011) Research Methods for Social Work. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Shuck, B. and Wollard, K. (2009) Employee Engagement and HRD: A Seminal Review of the Foundations. Human Resource Development Review, 9 (1), 89-110.

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Category: Business, Essay & Dissertation Samples, Human Resources