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 RESEARH 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
Workplace: A place where people work, such as an office or factory.
Flexibility: The quality of bending easily without breaking.
Workplace Flexibility: This is a situation whereby employers and employees make arrangements about working conditions that suit them.
Telecommuting: 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.
Job Shifts: 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.
Employee Commitment: It denotes an employee's enthusiasm for the company he or she works for.
Job Involvement: Job Involvement refers to the psychological and emotional extent to which someone participates in his/her work, profession, and company.
Employee: A person employed for wages or salary, especially at non-executive level.
Engagement: this is an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time.