2.5       UNDERPINNING THEORY

 

The theory may enter into a research study in the following ways, suggesting into a problem for study giving a hypothesis to be tested, providing a conceptual model for delimiting the scope of the study,  helping in the selecting of variables or identification of classes of data to be collected and making research findings intelligible.

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The ultimate goal of science is the development of theories to explain the lawful relationship that exists in a particular field.  As we know, a theory is a statement or set of statements explaining one or more laws.  Usually including one indirect concept needed to explain the relationship. 

In this research, a researcher using three theories to support the study, that is Maslow’s Theory, Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory, and Adams’ Equality Theory.

2.5.1    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

 

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who created the Hierarchy of Needs in 1948, which argued that psychological health was dependent on the fulfilling of needs in order of priority.  This theory put forward the idea that people must satisfy lower level deficit needs (4-5)(refer Table 2.1) before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs (1-3) (refer Table 2.1).

These needs are the basis for human survival and growth.  However, look closely at them, they lay a large part of employee engagement levels and how employees are engaged and motivated within the company.  Let us break it down and see how this works:

·         Survival – We know this is a basic need.  This includes the need to have a job, a salary that pays bills, and a sense of financial independence.

·         Safety/Security – When we have a job, we need to know that they are secure.  With the way the job market nowadays, it is hard for many to move past this second most basic need.  It also causes individuals to need structure in the workplace, with a chain of command and a process for their duties so they feel confident that they are doing their job correctly.

·         Belonging – People need to feel like they are part of a team, that they are a part of something bigger.  As employees, humans need to know the company values their individual contributions.  If your organization is set up around team principles, then this sense of belonging and “camaraderie” should come almost naturally.

·         Importance – This need dovetails into “belonging” need in the sense that individuals need to feel like they are important to a team, projects and the overall organization.  This need is most prevalent inside of a larger company where the need to engage employees on a personal level becomes harder and harder for higher-level management.

·         Self-Actualization – Most employees have some level of ambition and want to achieve more than, where they are currently positioned.  Giving those opportunities for growth, learning, leadership, and advancement give them all of the tools they need to begin to self-actualize within the company’s wall.  When they reach this point and are taking full advantage of the tools made available to them, they inspire others along the way and create a ripple effect of employee engagement.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs can also be applied to employee engagement in the workplace:

Highly Engaged        –           An employee is happy to help and inspire their co-workers and will not leave.
Engaged                     –           Someone who feels that they play a vital and important role in business and is more likely to achieve.
Almost Engaged       –           They know that they are part of something bigger in the company but may leave if offered a better opportunity.
Not Engaged             –           Is looking for new opportunities, are unhappy with the management and possibly their working conditions.
Disengaged               –           They are only working for their salary, are dissatisfied with their job and are likely to leave the company soon.

Similarly to Maslow Hierarchy, an employee needs their basic needs such as their salary and work condition to be fulfilled first before reaching high-level needs such as feeling part of something bigger within an organization.  Higher employee engagement also means higher employee retention and lower employee churn cuts recruitment and training cost of business.  Reward and recognition programs are a great way to motivate staff and increase the number of employees higher up the employee engagement hierarchy of needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2.1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Applied to Employee Engagement

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