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Quantitative exercise

The purpose of this research is to explore the connection between work engagement and work satisfaction among two groups: white collar workers and blue collar workers.  The proposed methodology for this study is survey-based: a survey will be created that will identify and measure different components of work engagement and its impact on how an individual conceptualizes work satisfaction.  A survey is likely the most tractable way to explore this research question for a number of reasons.  Foremost, in this context, neither an experimental or quasi-experimental study design is likely feasible to implement. This is because it would be difficult, if not impossible, to randomly assign workers to various work positions based on interest, and then modify the intensity of “work engagement” across positions.  Even if it was possible, it is not abundantly clear that the results would be generalizable to workers across a spectrum of jobs and understand the putative relationship between work engagement and work satisfaction.

I want to examine work engagement in exactly 200 individuals divided equally into two groups : 1) “blue-collar”- defined as work positions in which individuals primarily work with their hands and work ‘off-site; that is, not in an office-based environment daily; 2) “white collar”- defined as work positions in which individuals primarily work behind a computer and in an office-based environment on a daily basis.  The study subjects will be between the ages of 18-65 (in order to have validity across different ages), and will be sampled from four different geographic areas in the United States (east, mid west, south, and west).

The hypothesis to be tested in this study is: levels of work engagement and work satisfaction are positively correlated. I expect that individuals who have higher levels of work engagement will have higher overall levels of work satisfaction.

There is a rich literature exploring the concept of work engagement vis-à-vis a number of important outcomes such as productivity, employee health, and levels of creativity.  While these studies are inevitably important in better understanding the impact of work engagement, we believe that concepts such as worker productivity and health are being mediated by the concept of work satisfaction, of which its relationship to worker engagement needs to be explored in greater depth.  Thus, in this study the measures of worker engagement will be the independent variable and worker satisfaction will be the dependent variable.  The survey will be analyzed using correlational data and factor scales to understand what constitutes work engagement.

This research will have broad implications for human resource directors and companies looking to boost worker satisfaction.  In particular, the study will look at not only the relationship between worker engagement and satisfaction, but will also look at various ways to boost that engagement in different work sectors.

The survey questions are based on the Likert-scale, focusing on the intensity of agreement with ten different questions (“strongly agree”, “agree”, “undecided”, “disagree”, “strongly disagree”).

Scale Items (All items are scaled on the Likert agreement scale):

  • I currently feel satisfied in my work position
  • Engaged to me means doing work that I find meaningful
  • Engaged to me means doing work that keeps me busy
  • Engaged to me means doing work with great financial reward
  • Engaged to me means doing work with advancement possibilities
  • I work better when I find the work interesting to me
  • My job satisfaction is quite volatile based on the work I get
  • My job satisfaction tends to stabilize over time regardless of the work I get
  • Being able to engage on a team project is very important to me
  • Being to do work alone for long periods of time gives me satisfaction

Sources:

Fong, T.C. & Ng, S. (2012). Measuring engagement at work: validation of the Chinese version of the Utrecht work engagement scale. 19(1), 391-397.

Kanste, O. (2011). Work engagement, work commitment and their association with well-being in health care. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 25(1), 754-761.

Innstrand, S.T., Langbelle, E.M., Falkum, E. A longitudinal study of the relationship between work engagement and symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Stress Health, 28(1), 1-10.

Likert, R. (1932). “A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes,” Archives of Psychology140,  55.

Vigderhous, G. (1977).  “The Level of Measurement and ‘Permissible’ Statistical Analysis in Social Research,” Pacific Sociological Review, Vol. 20 (1), 1977, 61-72.