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BUS101 Exploring Business Research

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BUS101 Exploring Business Research

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Course Code: BUS101
University: University Of The Sunshine Coast

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Country: Australia

Question:

Topic : Work flexibility and incentives
For the sake of this assignment you have been given a much abbreviated example with only three questions and very short responses. Normally you would ask several establishing questions to build rapport with the participant before launching into serious questioning.
For the sake of this assignment you can assume that the purpose of the research has been explained to the participant, as well as the voluntary nature of participating and that simpler questions have been asked before these questions to establish rapport.

Answer:

Introduction
Thrive Consultancy is a well known consultancy company in Australia that offers services in human resource consultation, strategic planning, and marketing consultation for fifteen years. The company confers with other companies on their HR solutions, renewing and developing policies, developing KPIs, training, career and leadership development, and employee relation and communication. Thrive Consultancy also assists companies to create a sustainable business in terms of globalisation, technological advancement, and marketingthrough is strategic planning workshops. The purpose of the marketing consultancy programs of the company is to help other companies comprehend the clients’ perception of those companies, branding, marketing, advertising, and how to use social media.
Recently, the company has introduced a new policy and funding cuts. According to the new policy, there would be a fixed Monday to Friday 9-5 working hours, which means the employees would not get the flexible shift timing and work from home option. The cut in the funds indicates that the office kitchen would no longer provide free coffee, tea, biscuits, and milk. After this change, the company has been facing low morale and performance of the employees which is resulting into increase of absenteeism. The CEO wishes to find out the reason for this reason for this recent tendency of absenteeism.
Literature Review
Motivation
The success of an organisation depends on its workforce and the efficiency of it. Hence, it is crucial that organisations retain the employees and keep the rate of absenteeism low. According to recent researches, there are many reasons, for which absenteeism among the employees happens, such as lack of job satisfaction, salary, career growth, management and leadership, and reward and incentives (Arokiasamy, 2013; Aguenza & Som, 2018). These elements play as the motivational factors for employee retention in organisations. According to the job demand-resources (JD-R) theory, in times when the job is demanding and stressful, job resources like positive feedbacks and social support reduce that stress and the impact of job demand (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017). In addition to this, job resources, such as the assistance and support of other employees, also motivate employees to work efficiently in situations where the job demand is high (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017).  Therefore, it can be said that any inadequacy in these resources could result into absenteeism and employee turnover.
Factors Related to Absenteeism 
As discussed by Gangai (2014), absenteeism is a well recognised problem in organisations and steps should be taken by the executives to prevent it. There could be two types of absenteeism – involuntary and voluntary. Employees could have genuine reason for being absent such as sickness. This is termed as involuntary absenteeism, which means being absent for unavoidable reasons. There are situations when employees do not provide justifiable reasons for being absent or make a habit of taking unscheduled leaves. This situation is defined as voluntary absenteeism. On this regard, Kocakulah, Kelley, Mitchell and Ruggieri (2016) observed that sickness and family problems are the major reasons for unscheduled absenteeism. Sickness, personal and family issues along with stress effect the employees, and as a result productivity reduces and absenteeism increases. Gangai (2014) suggested that providing incentives on those factors that are making them absent is an effective way to motivate employees to be present at office. Kocakulah et al. (2016) also supported this claim and further indicated that apart from creating a positive work culture and giving incentives, flexible schedules along with childcare facilities could have a powerful impact on the employees and reduce absenteeism.
Workplace Culture 
As one of the crucial determinant of the financial gain of the organisations is the productivity of the workforce, it is vital for the organisations to retain the employees and reduce the rate of absenteeism (Idris, 2014). The researcher specifically mentions that benefits such as flexible shift time and opportunity of working from home create job satisfaction of the employees and increases the productivity. On the other hand, even though Allen, Johnson, Kiburz and Shockley (2013) agree that there is a relation between the work-family conflict and flexibility in workplace, their research claim that it is lesser in magnitude than assumed. Despite their findings, McNamara, Pitt-Catsouphes, Matz-Costa, Brown and Valcour (2013) observe that flexibility in working hours has a greater influence on the job satisfaction as it is the key factor in maintaining a balance between work and family responsibilities. They assert that when the organisations make supportive policies that help the employees balance their work and family life, and provide options that are suitable to the needs of the employees, it reduces the stress level of the employees and increases their job satisfaction.
Job Satisfaction 
Among the factors that influence job performance and absenteeism, job satisfaction is one of the most significant. Lack in job satisfaction leads to employee absenteeism and eventually, employee turnover (Kabungaidze, Mahlatshana & Ngirande 2013). Thereafter, it is crucial for the organisation to keep the employees satisfied in terms of job in order to increase their performance and productivity. As opined by Gayathiri, Ramakrishnan, Babatunde, Banerjee and Islam (2013), when an organisation provide quality work life that is flexible work environment and facilities, incentives, and work life balance, it is evident that the job satisfaction level of the employees increase and the absenteeism reduces. Dugguh and Dennis (2014) also suggest that the job satisfaction of the employees directly affect the productivity of the organisations, employee relation, and absenteeism. Hence, it can be said that workplace flexibility and incentives play critical roles in increasing job satisfaction and thus, the performance of the employees. Lack of these factors leads to job dissatisfaction and consequently, employee retention and absenteeism.
Research Objectives and Questions
The CEO of Thrive Consultancy has decided to comprehend whether the new policy and funding cuts are the reasons for the low performance and morale of the employees, or there are other reasons at play.
The research objectives are –

To find out the effect of the new policy and funding cut on the employees.
To understand the reasons for the recent increase of absenteeism in the company.

To recommend strategies that would reduce the rate of absenteeism.

Therefore, the research questions are –

What is the effect of the new policy and funding cuts on the employees?
What are the reasons for the recent absenteeism in the organisation?

What measures can be recommended to reduce the absenteeism?

Methodology
This research follows qualitative research method in which the researcher employs observation in order to gather non-numerical information. This method is used to understand characteristics, definitions, descriptions, concepts, symbols, and meanings of various ideas of social science (Silverman, 2016). People are centre of this type of research study. Therefore, it can be said that qualitative research is related to the study of intangible issues and inexact ideas belonging to the experiential realm of life.
In this study, the primary data has been collected through in-depth and open-ending interviews with five staff members of the company from multiple posts. The interviews took almost twenty minutes for each employee. They followed a semi-structured interview style with an interview protocol. The interviews were conducted in a quiet meeting room within the office premises.
Each interviewee was asked three questions and the transcript of the gathered data from the interviews was transformed into tables through the process of coding. With the help of coding and thematic analysis, themes were developed and the theme structure was interpreted into graph (Vaismoradi, Turunen & Bondas, 2013; St. Pierre & Jackson, 2014). The validation of the interview is that all the three questions were situation and relatable to the job. The identities of the interviewees were withheld and they were all signed in the consent form before the conduction of the interviews.
Findings

Theme

Sub-theme (categories)

Direct quote

Job satisfaction

Workplace environment
· Office space
· Parking space

“I get my own office, which is great”
“It has a couple of perks like parking.”
“Oh I couldn’t be happier.”

Opportunity
· Training workshops

“I help design and implement training workshops for other companies which is heaps of fun. I really enjoy running them”
 “I would like some more training for my job.”
“I would really like some help now and then.”

Workplace culture

Flexibility at work
· Family responsibility
· Suitable timing

“I just wish they hadn’t made the changes to the working hours.”
“Well the lack of flexibility isn’t great.”
“I used to work from home on a Friday and that was good. Kind of made me a bit happier.”
“I’m just so exhausted all the time.”

Leadership
· Ineffective communication
· Lack of concern

“The supervisor is nice but she doesn’t really lead too well.”
“I keep trying to tell them that this is really limiting me and making it harder but they don’t seem to care.”

HR operations

Communication
· Lack of response
· Delay in work

“She is too busy to help me and doesn’t really reply to emails on time.”
“I tried to explain that to her [supervisor] but she just dismissed me like it’s not her problem.”
“HR sometimes the supervisor takes a while to get back to me.”
“My work gets held up waiting for their department [HR] to respond to a query or give me some help.”
“They aren’t listening to me or helping me.”
“HR [department] could answer emails faster.”

Training
· Incompetency

“The supervisor should do one of the leadership courses.”
“I’m not too sure what I should be doing and feel like a bit more guidance might help.”

Incentives

Motivation
· Funding cuts
· Lack of appreciation

 “They took away the coffee machine!”
“It adds up to like twenty-five dollars a week just for one a day and I really need one to get through the afternoon.”
 “It’s just hard to come here when you don’t really feel appreciated.”

Chart 1: Rate Job Satisfaction after the change
 
Chart 2: Effect of workplace culture after the change
 
Chart 3: Effects of the incentive system after the change
 
Chart 4: Issues with the HR operations
The findings of the research suggest that there is a noticeable decrease in the rate of job satisfaction among the employees after the introduction of the new policy regarding shift hours and funding cuts for the office kitchen. Twenty percent of the employees have lower job satisfaction now where 40% have medium level of job satisfaction. On the other hand, 40% of the employees are still fully satisfied with their jobs and the change did not affected them. Analysing the factors of job satisfaction in the company, three different reasons came out – work culture, incentives, and HR operations. Whereas the first two reasons were in the research topic, the third reason came was unpredicted.
Workplace culture includes two subthemes, flexibility at workplace and leadership competency of the management. Among all the employees, 20% has experienced the change in the workplace culture highly, whereas the effect was medium and low among 40% of the employees each. Similar results have been found in the effect of the incentive system also – 20% was effected highly, 40% was effect medium, and the rest 40% was effected low. The incentive system involves funding cuts and appreciations. The research further showed that many employees are dissatisfied with the HR operations. Sixty percent of the employees stated that the HR department does not response in time or make proper responses at all, which lead to their delay in work and decrease work performance. It has also been observed that the HR department lacks in appropriate skills for their work.
Recommendations
According to the results, it was found that the new policy and fund cutting have an impact on the morale and performance of the employees, though in a lesser magnitude than expected. The research further pointed out that the incompetency of the HR department negatively affects the performance of the employees. Based on these findings, the below recommendations are made –

Trainings and workshops should be immediately arranged for the HR department.
Instead of one specific shift timing, the management could offer two shift timings according to the needs of the employees.
Employees, on whom the effect of the change has been the most, should be appreciated for their cooperation and loyalty to the company.
The company could offer low priced coffee, tea, biscuits, and milk to the employees inside the office premise.

It is expected that by following these recommendations, the CEO of the Thrive Consultancy would be able to increase the morale and performance of the employees and reduce absenteeism.
Conclusions
Thrive Consultancy is a consultancy company that advice other organisations on their Human Resource operations, strategic planning, and advertising. The company has been facing challenges regarding the low morale and performance of the employees, which subsequently lead to increase of absenteeism. The reasons behind this, according to the CEO of the company, are the new policy that changes the flexible working hour system, and the funding cuts in the office kitchen, which takes away the free coffee, tea, biscuit and milk offerings. The CEO intends to find out whether these are the reasons behind the business problem or any other factor is at play. The literature review demonstrated that absenteeism has a strong relation with incentives and flexibility in workplace. It indicated that job satisfaction explicitly depends on incentives and flexibility in workplace. Thereafter, lack of job satisfaction decreases performance and increases absenteeism.
A qualitative research has been conducted for which in-depth and open-ended interviews have been taken from five of the company employees. The results of the interviews were coded and transformed into charts through thematic analysis. The findings of the research showed that, although the recent change in the company has affected the employees, it is lesser in magnitude. On the other hand, a novel fact came out from the study that the HR operations of the company lack in skills. Based on these findings, training for the HR department has been strongly suggested. Along with that, increase in the number of shift timings, appreciation, and low price beverage offerings have been suggested. In conclusion, it can be said that these recommendation are made after conducting an in-depth study of the situation o the company and hence, would solve the business problem of the company.
References
Aguenza, B. B., & Som, A. P. M. (2018). Motivational factors of employee retention and engagement in organizations. IJAME. Retrieved from https://www.managementjournal.info/index.php/IJAME/article/viewFile/233/222
Allen, T. D., Johnson, R. C., Kiburz, K. M., & Shockley, K. M. (2013). Work–family conflict and flexible work arrangements: Deconstructing flexibility. Personnel psychology, 66(2), 345-376. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kristen_Shockley/publication/237006835_Work-Family_Conflict_and_Flexible_Work_Arrangements_Deconstructing_Flexibility/links/5a0ef5cc458515de0329c02a/Work-Family-Conflict-and-Flexible-Work-Arrangements-Deconstructing-Flexibility.pdf
Arokiasamy, A. R. A. (2013). A qualitative study on causes and effects of employee turnover in the private sector in Malaysia. Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 16(11), 1532-1541. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4365/e8ea20e770151fde7dd66bf3dc4c42ea6ec8.pdf
Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2017). Job demands–resources theory: Taking stock and looking forward. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(3), 273. Retrived from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309021574/download
Dugguh, S. I., & Dennis, A. (2014). Job satisfaction theories: Traceability to employee performance in organizations. IOSR journal of business and management, 16(5), 11-18. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bb50/91f61cbd4a024add34d032b4bb0951015de2.pdf
Gangai16, K. N. (2014). ABSENTEEISM AT WORKPLACE: WHAT ARE THE FACTORS INFLUENCING TO IT?. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/45299909/journal_2.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1537298262&Signature=Pv%2Fha%2F%2FqR0VUCbxfzKnSkhoQF3E%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DABSENTEEISM_AT_WORKPLACE_WHAT_ARE_THE_FA.pdf
Gayathiri, R., Ramakrishnan, L., Babatunde, S. A., Banerjee, A., & Islam, M. Z. (2013). Quality of work life–Linkage with job satisfaction and performance. International Journal of Business and Management Invention, 2(1), 1-8. Retrived from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5ab4/1a9b14b5e3c791ae5d6da4dba9be3cfef9e5.pdf
Idris, A. (2014). Flexible working as an employee retention strategy in developing countries: Malaysian bank managers speak. Journal of Management Research, 14(2), 71. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Idris_Aida/publication/302958708_Flexible_Working_as_an_Employee_Retention_Strategy_in_Developing_Countries_Malaysian_Bank_Managers_Speak/links/573446b008ae9ace840748b9.pdf
Kabungaidze, T., Mahlatshana, N., & Ngirande, H. (2013). The impact of job satisfaction and some demographic variables on employee turnover intentions. International Journal of Business Administration, 4(1), 53. Retrieved from https://sciedu.ca/journal/index.php/ijba/article/viewFile/2258/1252
Kocakulah, M. C., Kelley, A. G., Mitchell, K. M., & Ruggieri, M. P. (2016). Absenteeism problems and costs: causes, effects and cures. The International Business & Economics Research Journal (Online), 15(3), 89. Retrived from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mehmet_Kocakulah/publication/301796227_Absenteeism_Problems_And_Costs_Causes_Effects_And_Cures/links/592c90a1aca27295a81599aa/Absenteeism-Problems-And-Costs-Causes-Effects-And-Cures.pdf
McNamara, T. K., Pitt-Catsouphes, M., Matz-Costa, C., Brown, M., & Valcour, M. (2013). Across the continuum of satisfaction with work–family balance: Work hours, flexibility-fit, and work–family culture. Social science research, 42(2), 283-298. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/40071537/Across_the_continuum_of_satisfaction_wit20151116-729-c1e5n3.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1537298533&Signature=lZuOIJcvXy6dKS0XlzVc8WEUlKI%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DAcross_the_continuum_of_satisfaction_wit.pdf
Silverman, D. (Ed.). (2016). Qualitative research. Sage. Retrived from https://epdf.tips/qualitative-research-theory-method-and-practice.html
St. Pierre, E. A., & Jackson, A. Y. (2014). Qualitative data analysis after coding. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alecia_Jackson/publication/270481796_Qualitative_Data_Analysis_After_Coding/links/56ae4c3308ae28588c61bae8/Qualitative-Data-Analysis-After-Coding.pdf
Vaismoradi, M., Turunen, H., & Bondas, T. (2013). Content analysis and thematic analysis: Implications for conducting a qualitative descriptive study. Nursing & health sciences, 15(3), 398-405. Retrived from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/nhs.12048

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