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1. ISSN 2039-2117 (online) ISSN 2039-9340 (print) Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy Vol 5 No 15 July 2014 37 Employees’ Discernment…
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  • 1. ISSN 2039-2117 (online) ISSN 2039-9340 (print) Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy Vol 5 No 15 July 2014 37 Employees’ Discernment of Workforce Diversity and Its Effect on Job Satisfaction in a Public Service Department Wiza Munyeka Department of Business Management, University of Limpopo (Turf loop Campus), Private Bag 1106. Sovenga, 0727. South Africa Email: masterwiza2000@yahoo.com Doi:10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n15p37 Abstract In South Africa, much has been said and legislated in terms of enhancing workforce diversity of organizations. Workforce diversity issues are now considered important and are projected to become even more important in the future due to increasing differences in terms of age, gender, race or origin in the organization. Organizations need to focus on diversity and look at ways to become totally inclusive organizations because diversity has the potential of yielding greater job satisfaction and competitive advantages. The need to understand diversity is also driven by women and younger workers in the workplace. The current study focuses on the employees’ discernment of workforce diversity and its effect on job satisfaction. A sample of 90 employees was used in the study. The data was collected by means of a questionnaire which consisted of closed ended questions on a Likert-Scale. Statistical analysis was applied to the quantitative data obtained. Seven factors (age, marital status, ethnicity, income levels, period of service, professional qualification and job title) were investigated. The results indicated that five of the factors could have predictive effect on employee commitment to work. However, employee commitment was not significantly affected by the factor of gender. Keywords: Age; Cultural knowledge; ethnicity; Gender; Disability; job satisfaction; Marital status; Sexual orientation; Tenure; workforce diversity 1. Introduction This study focuses on one of the most important and broad-based challenges currently facing organizations in adapting to people who are different. The term used for describing this challenge is workforce diversity. Whereas globalisation focuses on differences between people from different countries, workforce diversity addresses differences among people within a given country (Strydom, 1998). According to Meyer (1999), most South African employees experience a lack of job satisfaction resulting in a low level of employee commitment that, in turn, impacts on performance and the achievement of organisational goals. The symptoms of these problems result in low productivity, high absenteeism, labour unrest, industrial action and high labour turnover. The current situation in the public sector in South Africa is not dissimilar. Public sector employees are faced with a multitude of factors that impact on effective and efficient service delivery. The study investigates how employees discern workforce diversity and the possible effect that diversity can have on their satisfaction at work. 2. Problem Statement According to Nelson & Quick, (1997) the South African workplace today is made up of different employees with unique (diverse) characteristics. Does this situation affect the way employees feel about their jobs? Moreover, many organizations in the new South Africa now engage different workers in their workforce to improve their image as they promote “Affirmative action” in line with South African government policy (Cavaleros Vooren & Delene, 2002). To work effectively with diverse people, managers need to know not only about the persons with whom they interact, but also their personality, behavior patterns in conflict situations, demographics and life experiences. The question that still remains unanswered is how employees feel about diversity in their working environments and whether workplace diversity results in dissatisfaction or anxiety and whether or not that may result in losses of productivity. Since most studies have been focusing on workforce diversity rather than discernments of employees in the workplace, this study focused on employees’ discernment of workforce diversity and its effect on job satisfaction in the context of a selected public service
  • 2. ISSN 2039-2117 (online) ISSN 2039-9340 (print) Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy Vol 5 No 15 July 2014 38 department. 3. Objectives of the Study To identify the employees’ discernment of workforce diversity. To examine the extent to which the current state of diversity in the workplace is related to employees’ job satisfaction. To provide recommendations for management actions implemented in organizations to avoid problems caused by diversity. 4. Research Hypotheses In view of the statement of the problem it is hypothesised that: 1. H1: Attitudes towards workforce diversity are positively related to job satisfaction. 2. H2: The existence of workforce diversity management programmes is positively correlated with job satisfaction. HO: The existence of workforce diversity management programmes is not positively correlated with job satisfaction 5. Theoretical Framework Similarity/Attraction Theory5.1 The study made use of the Similarity/Attraction Theory; the similarity/attraction stream of research is predicated on the notion that similarity in attributes, particularly demographic ones, increases interpersonal attraction and liking (Pitts & Jarry, 2006). Individuals with similar backgrounds may find that they have more in common with each other than with those from different backgrounds, making it more comfortable for them to work together and collaborate in producing a product or solving a problem. Similarity allows one to have his or her values and ideas reinforced, whereas dissimilarity causes one to question his or her values and ideas, a process that is likely to be unsettling. Previous research has shown that in a situation where an individual has the opportunity to interact with one of a number of different people, he or she is most likely to select a person who is similar (Pitts & Jarry, 2006). That one is likely to be most attracted to those with similar attributes yields clear predictions for the relationship between organizational diversity and work-related outcomes. Previous research using the similarity/attraction concept found that dissimilarity led to a lack of “attraction” to others that manifested itself in decreased communication, message distortion, and communication error Nelson & Quick, (1997). Similarity/attraction theory predicts that high levels of diversity in an organization or in a work group are likely to lead to faulty work processes. These faulty work processes will, in turn, lead to job dissatisfaction and poor performance. Literature review5.2 5.2.1 Workforce diversity According to Cavaleros, et al. (2002) diversity refers to differences between people in organizations. To define diversity more specifically is a daunting task because there are many differences between people at work, including differences in race, gender, ethnicity, personality, tenure, organizational function etc. There is also the fact that diversity not only involves how people think of others and how this affects their interaction, but how they conceive of themselves. Cavaleros, et al. (2002) suggests that one way to approach the question is to consider “whether diversity should be broadly defined or narrowly defined”. A broad definition would see diversity as including all possible ways in which members of work teams may differ. It would consider differences of race, gender, age and other demographic categories as essentially the same as differences in values, attitudes, organizational functions, tenure and personality. Diversity may also refer to “otherness”. As Nelson & Quick, (1997) observe diversity may not only be looked at in terms of simply human differences, but it can be broken down into primary and secondary dimensions. Primary dimensions are those of age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, race and sexual orientation, while secondary dimensions cover such as those that can be changed. These include educational background, geographical location,
  • 3. ISSN 2039-2117 (online) ISSN 2039-9340 (print) Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy Vol 5 No 15 July 2014 39 marital status religion and others. Grobler, Warnich, Carrel, Elbert & Hartfield (2002) in their view of diversity in the South African context, stresses that the change in the demographic structure of the South African workforce now mirrors the diversity of the South African population as a whole. In other studies Grobler et al. (2002) point to six major aspects that make for diversity in the South African workplace, namely; ethnic groups, gender, young workers, South Africans with disabilities, sexual orientation and culture. 5.2.1.1 Ethnic groups The South African population is comprised of four ethnic groups, blacks, colored, Asians and whites. To complicate matters further, more than 11 languages are spoken across these groups. This state of ethnical differences highlights the complications that may arise because of these differences (Grobler et al. 2002). 5.2.1.2 Gender A greater number of women in the workforce do offset the decline in the number of male workers. Nevertheless, female workers are still not welcomed, by many employers, in top management positions. Preliminary surveys of the private sector show that one in four positions there are held by women as compared with almost two out of three positions in the public sector Grobler et al. (2002). Most male employees are still not very comfortable with women in the workplace, especially in managerial positions. 5.2.1.3 Age According to Grobler et al. (2002) South Africa has a relatively young population; more than 62% are younger than 30 years of age. This differs from most western countries, where the majority of the workplace is comprised of middle aged and older working groups. The main cause is that South Africa is a developing country that has to invest in a young workforce. It does mean that tenured (older) employees may feel threatened by an increasingly younger workforce and fear to lose their jobs. Workplace age stereotypes are beliefs and expectations about workers based on their age. Often these stereotypes are negative, inaccurate, or distorted opinions about people based on their membership in a particular age group. They may be based on hearsay, preconceived ideas, or unfounded assumptions and incorrectly infer that all members of such group are the same (Grobler et al. 2002). 5.2.1.4 Disabled workers in South Africa Common disabilities in South Africa include hearing and sight impairments, physical disabilities, mental or emotional deficiency and various nerve disorders. Many individuals according to Grobler et al. (2002) experience anxiety around disabled workers especially if the disability is severe. However, the manager can set the tone for proper treatment of workers with disabilities. This is important as people with disabilities now fall within the so-called “designated groups” identified by the South African Employment Equity Act (EEA) 55 of 1998. This Act open ways for all South Africans and is against any form of discrimination against employees. Even so, most workers are still uncomfortable working with disabled co-workers, and this can lead to increased dissatisfaction unless all workers are taught to work with disabled co- workers. 5.2.1.5. Sexual orientation According to Stats-SA (1999) 10% of the population in South Africa is homosexual. This therefore means that 10% of men and women in the workplace are “gay”. The South African government’s acceptance of all “gay” people as normal does not mean that most workers in South African organizations are comfortable working with gay co-workers (www.stassa.co.za). 5.2.1.6 Cultural knowledge According to Van Niekerk, (2004) Cultural knowledge is a deep understanding of the beliefs, customs and traditions of cultures and a fundamental building block in relationships, including work relationships. Consequently, a management style should result in a manager being aware of the prevailing cultures in the organization. For cultural diversity it makes
  • 4. ISSN 2039-2117 (online) ISSN 2039-9340 (print) Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy Vol 5 No 15 July 2014 40 good sense for companies to alter their racial and gender mix so as to mirror the general population, or their customer base. Employment equity laws do force the pace of transformation, but while we are told that diversity in the workplace is good and that organizations benefit from it, tensions will be inevitable as organizations battle to get the best from their increasingly diverse workplaces. Lack of trust in cultural diversity is a massive problem in South Africa. Where trust exists, people talk to each other, share ideas and are respectful. Where trust is missing, toxic behavior becomes the norm (Van Niekerk, 2000). 5.2.2 Job satisfaction in the working environment Prolific research in the area of job satisfaction has been conducted over the past few decades (Boshoff, Cilliers & Van Wyk, 2003; Buitendach & De Witte, 2005; Calder, 2000; Derlin & Schneider, 1994; Dolliver, 2003; Hoole & Vermeulen, 2003; Kh Metle, 2005; Malherbe & Pearse, 2003). However, a paucity of studies exist in the public health industry investigating job satisfaction across different occupational classes. The vast majority of studies conducted in the public health industry in South Africa over the past years have mainly focused on job satisfaction amongst health care doctors and nurses (Damane, 1992; Herman, 2005; Mariani, Gcaba & Dalton, 2003; Mavanyisi, 2005; Pillay, 2003). 5.2.2.1. Theory and studies of employee job satisfaction Job satisfaction in one form or another has been related to such variables as turnover, absenteeism, productivity, group cohesiveness, general hygiene factors, job rewards, personal rights, labor unrest and performance appraisals. These dependent variables have monetary implications for organizations and therefore research on employee satisfaction is very important. In South Africa political change and frequent labor unrest necessitates a closer look at awareness of employees and their level of satisfaction Visser & Breed (1997). There is no single commonly agreed shared theory of job (employee) satisfaction. For the purposes of this study, Hertzberg’s two factor motivational theory will be used to show that elements that bring satisfaction simply refer to the positive/negative reactions of people to their jobs (www.coe.iup.edu). According to Cavalores et al. (2002) job satisfaction may be defined as an individual’s general attitude towards his/her job. Visser & Breed (1997) further indicates that a person with a high level of job satisfaction holds positive attitudes towards the job, while a person who is dissatisfied with his/her job holds negative attitudes about it. Visser & Breed (1997) argues that a person’s job is more than just the obvious activities of shuffling papers, waiting on customers or driving a truck. Rather, jobs include interaction with co-workers and bosses, following organizational rules and policies, meeting performance standards, living with working conditions that are often less than ideal and the like. In addition, Fitz-enz (2002) emphases that an employee’s assessment of how he/she is satisfied or dissatisfied with their job is a global summation of a number of discrete job elements. Hertzberg was the first researcher to show that satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work nearly always arises from different kinds of factors. Hertzberg showed that certain factors truly motivate (motivators) whereas others tend to lead to dissatisfaction (hygiene factors). Accordingly Hertzberg developed the motivation-hygiene theory (www.net.mba.com). In developing Fitz-enz (2002) pointed to six main factors causing dissatisfaction. These are company policy, supervision, relationship with the boss, working conditions, salary and relationship with peers satisfaction, by contrast is caused by recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth. Robbins Odendaal & Roodt (2004) replicated Hertzberg’s theory for the South African context. The results of their study showed that similar motivators and hygiene factors were causing satisfaction and dissatisfaction respectively for both the white and black schooled population. For the unschooled black, satisfaction and dissatisfaction were caused mainly by the hygiene factors because they had no exposure to motivators. 5.2.2.1.1. The link between job satisfaction (Hertzberg’s theory) and workforce diversity Job satisfaction was earlier defined as an individual’s cognitive, affective and evaluation reaction to their jobs. As indicated by Nel, Van Dyk, Schultz & Werner (2004), job satisfaction influences absenteeism, labor turnover, commitment and organizational citizenship. This brings to mind, Hertzberg’s two-factor motivational theory as different factors and differences among people in the organization can make people feel exceptionally good or bad about their jobs. Cavaleros et al. (2002) show that diversity in the work situation encompasses every individual difference that affects a task relationship; this can mean that people may want different supervision, working conditions or even have different attitudes towards their bosses because of their diverse characteristics. Robbins et al. (2004) conducted studies
  • 5. ISSN 2039-2117 (online) ISSN 2039-9340 (print) Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy Vol 5 No 15 July 2014 41 in South African organizations to see how satisfied/dissatisfied employees were about their jobs, making use of the following diverse characteristics: age, gender, marital status and tenure. 5.2.2.2. Age Robbins et al. (2004) found that senior employees are more satisfied with their jobs and more steady and productive. This issue is now under the spot-light because young employees have now made it into the workplace. 5.2.2.3. Gender There has been an influx of women into the South African labor force over the past 30 years. Recent statistics (2001) showed that women constitute 42.8% of the workforce and experience a high level of satisfaction at work (Robbins et al. 2004). The study will make use of these statistics in investigating whether it is true that most of the male workers are dissatisfied with the current statistics of women in the workplace. In addition, women are complaining that most organizations place men in managerial positions and women in lower level positions (glass ceiling); hence this study will generate ways in which managers should manage workforce diversity and look at the importance of workforce diversity in the workplace. 5.2.2.4. Marital status Indications on marital status are that married employees are les absent, contribute less to turnover and are more satisfied with their jobs as compared to unmarried co-workers (Robbins et al. 2004). 5.2.2.5. Tenure Robbins et al. (2004) argued that tenure is inversely related to absenteeism and that there is a positive relationship between tenure and job satisfaction. Nevertheless, there are many diverse characteristics of employees that may bring some changes in these results. The above results demonstrate that employees may feel differently about their jobs because of diverse characteristic they have. Nelson & Quick (1997) explain that Hertzberg’s theory distinguishes between intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors include advancements and achievements and are related to job satisfaction. In their study Nelson & Quick (1997) include intrinsic political affiliation among the factors as subtle but powe
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