Methodology and Design for the Research

Introduction

Effective people management is an essential element that organisations should focus on in their strategic human resource management practices. Leblebici (2012) opines that nowadays the “relationship between employees and employers may be seen upside down” (p.38). The high rate of global economic growth has presented individuals with numerous job opportunities. Thus, employers have a duty to formulate effective human resource management strategies that will attract and retain talent. Traditionally, compensating employees through high pay was perceived as one of the most effective strategies to attract and retain a workforce.

However, improving the physical workplace environment might have a strong impact on an organisation’s ability to attract and retain a talented workforce. Leblebici (2012) further contends that the workplace environment influences the employees’ morale, engagement, and productivity positively or negatively. Unsafe and unhealthy working environments may subject employees to various occupational diseases, hence increasing the rate of absenteeism, employee turnover, and low performance.

Decker, Thomas, and Hong (2011) assert that a convenient workplace environment is a key component in improving the employees’ productivity. Employees in most organisations experience various workplace problems originating from diverse physical and environmental factors. The working environment has been cited in previous studies as one of the key determinants of employee engagement. Consequently, the rate of employee disengagement has increased significantly. The findings of previous studies show that fostering a favourable working environment reduces the rate of absenteeism and increases the employees’ productivity.

Moreover, Wells (2000) is of the view that employees’ comfort is influenced by the prevailing workplace conditions. Leblebici (2012) further argues that employees’ comfort “in the workplace is an important factor for measuring their productivity” (p.39). Therefore, the significance of organisations influencing the employees’ attitude positively cannot be ignored in order to achieve long-term success.

Problem statement

Most profit-making organizations in different economic sectors are increasingly seeking to achieve a high level of profitability in order to increase the likelihood of maximizing their shareholders’ wealth. In their pursuit of high profitability, organizations are increasingly adopting diverse strategic management practices such as market expansion. Moreover, the profit maximization objective has led to some organizations adopting unethical business practices, for example, by ignoring the working environment (Leblebici, 2012).

Nike is a classic example of organizations that have been criticized largely for subjecting employees to poor working environments. Nike outsources its production activities to overseas factories most of which are established in low-income countries such as Indonesia. Most employees working in these factories are subjected to work for over 16 hours per day every week (Taibi, 2013).

Subjecting employees to long working hours and poor conditions increases work-related stress, which is a major hindrance to the employees’ productivity (Colligan & Higgins, 2005). In addition to working conditions, employees encounter diverse stressors such as organizational change, which increases the uncertainty of job security. Consequently, their concentration and focus on the assigned job task are affected adversely. Most organizations in the contemporary business environment have over-relied on monetary and non-monetary reward systems in improving the employees’ productivity (Lamm & Meeks, 2010).

Some of the monetary rewards include equitable and fair compensation and bonuses. Conversely, the non-monetary rewards adopted include health plans, work-life balance schemes, and retirement schemes (Lamm & Meeks, 2010). However, the effectiveness of these strategies in fostering employee retention is increasingly being affected by the changing employees’ needs. Tews, Michael, and Bartlett (2012) assert that employees “are increasingly appreciating having fun in the workplace as a core determinant of their decision to stay in an organization” (p.105).

Workplace fun entails various interpersonal, recreational, social, and playful activities, which are intended to create pleasure amusement and enjoyment. Fun in the workplace positively affects the employees’ attitude, and thus their productivity. Therefore, one can argue that workplace fun is designed with the objective of improving organizational outcomes. Tews, Michael, and Bartlett (2012) further emphasize that fun in the workplace leads to the development of a strong organizational culture, which increases the employees’ motivation, and hence their motivation. Workplace fun has a significant effect on the employees’ problem-solving ability and creativity. According to Tews, Michael, and Bartlett (2012), workplace fun augments the employees’ productivity by improving their job performance.

Despite organizations’ commitment in formulating diverse employee retention strategies, the concept of workplace fun has been ignored largely due to lack of adequate understanding on how to implement fun in strategic human resource management practices. However, implementing workplace fun is a paramount aspect in organization’s pursuit for sustainability by improving the employees’ productivity.

Purpose statement

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the methodology and design to be adopted in examining whether implementing fun in the workplace increases the employees’ productivity, and hence the overall organizational performance.

Methodology

The methodology and design adopted in conducting a research study have a remarkable impact on the quality of the study. Creswell (2009) defines research design as the logic or systematic inquiry of a particular issue or phenomenon. Creswell (2009) emphasizes that research design “provides a framework for the collection and analysis of data” (p.40). Diverse approaches have been developed in an effort to improve the relevance of research findings. Some of these approaches include qualitative, quantitative, and mixed approaches.

Krosnick and Presser (2010) assert that qualitative research design involves a subjective and systematic research approach that is mainly used in exploring diverse life experiences. Thus, the goal of qualitative research design is to create insight into a particular aspect. Leitz (2010) emphasizes that qualitative research design is mainly adopted in exploring the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of human behaviour and individuals’ experiences. On the other hand, the objective of quantitative research design is to explain a particular issue using statistical data.

Subsequently, diverse statistical methods such as regression and correlation analysis are utilized in order to understand the relationship between the dependent and the independent variables. Krosnick and Presser (2010) assert that the quantitative approach is mainly adopted in the process of assessing the relationship between variables and change in a particular phenomenon over a given duration.

In order to understand the relationship between fun in the workplace and the employees’ productivity, this study will adopt a mixed or hybrid research approach. Therefore, both qualitative and quantitative research approaches will be incorporated. The decision to adopt this research approach is informed by the need to enhance the quality of the research findings. Using a qualitative research design will enable the researcher to gather adequate data from the field due to the exploratory nature of the study.

Consequently, the likelihood of gathering relevant data from the field, hence bettering the outcome of the study will be improved. Adopting a qualitative research approach improves the relevance of a study to the target stakeholders as the researcher is in a position to collect data to be used in making inferences from the natural settings. Therefore, the likelihood of gathering first-hand information increases considerably (Creswell, 2009).

In order to gather relevant data on the extent to which fun in the workplace improves the employees’ productivity, this study will assess the extent to which fun has been incorporated in organizations’ strategic human resource management practices and its impact on the employees’ performance. Creswell (2009 asserts that qualitative research design enables researchers to gather substantial data from the field. Analyzing such data can be a tedious task. Conversely, using a quantitative research approach will improve the effectiveness with which the raw data is managed. The choice of quantitative research design is also informed by the need to improve the efficiency with which the research findings are explained and analyzed statistically. Creswell (2009) contends that quantitative research design enables researchers to present the research findings.

Population and sampling

The quality of research findings is subject to different factors such as the relevance of data collected. Subsequently, it is imperative for researchers to ensure that only relevant data is used in making deductions. In order to improve the quality of the data, researchers should target the right population. In conducting this study, the researcher will target organizations established in different sectors such as the manufacturing, hospitality, and retail industries.

Moreover, the target population will be comprised of both large and small-scale enterprises. Considering the extensive nature of the manufacturing, hospitality, and retail industries, this study will mainly concentrate on the United States. The researcher will assume that organizations established in the aforementioned industries understand the concept of fun in the workplace.

The researcher appreciates that there are numerous, retail, manufacturing, and hospitality firms established in the US. Consequently, it is unrealistic to conduct a research study on all the establishments due to time and resource scarcity. In order to deal with this limitation, the researcher will incorporate the concept of sampling, which involves selecting a subset of research variables from the total population.

A simple random sampling technique will be adopted in selecting respondents. This technique will enable the researcher to eliminate bias in constituting the research sample. Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2008) are of the opinion that simple random sampling “technique is used to make a confident statement, having involved different categories of employees” (p. 213). Therefore, employees in the top leadership and their subordinates from the selected organizations will have the same probability of being selected to participate in the study.

The researcher will assume that the respondents are well informed on workplace fun and its impact on the employees’ job performance, collaboration amongst workmates, level of motivation, and productivity. A sample of 100 respondents will be selected from the target organizations. The researcher will assume that the responses obtained from the selected respondents are representative of the views of most employees and employers in different workplaces concerning workplace fun.

Data collection

It is imperative for researchers to improve the quality of their research studies. One of the issues that they should take into consideration includes the reliability of the collected data. Subsequently, only reliable data collection instruments should be adopted. Lewis and Slack (2007) contend that reliability “entails the degree to which observations, tests, questionnaires, and other measurement procedures lead to the generation of similar results on repeated trials” (p.110).

The second aspect that researchers should consider entails the source of data. The two main sources of data used in conducting research studies include the primary and the secondary sources. Primary sources of data involve collecting data from the natural setting while secondary sources include sourcing data from past studies and published reports. The likelihood of collecting relevant data from primary sources is relatively higher as compared to secondary sources. Therefore, if a researcher decides to use secondary sources of data, s/he must ascertain that they are from credible sources.

In order to enhance the credibility of the data, this study will collect data from primary sources. Thus, the researcher will be in a position to gather first-hand information from the field. The researcher will use interviews in collecting data. The data will be collected systematically using questionnaires as the data collection instrument. The questionnaire will be aimed at collecting the respondents’ views on the impact of fun in the workplace on the employees’ productivity.

The questionnaire will be designed effectively by incorporating open and close-ended questions. The open-ended questionnaires will provide the respondents with freedom in responding to the questions asked which minimize the likelihood of the researcher influencing the response. Subsequently, the probability of enriching the research findings will be improved. Additionally, the researcher will ensure that the questionnaires are reliable and valid. The questionnaires will be distributed to the selected respondents electronically using e-mails in order to minimize the cost of conducting the study.

A draft questionnaire will be designed and used in conducting a pilot test. Pilot testing will enable the researcher to identify various issues that might affect the reliability of the questionnaires. Examples of such issues include ambiguity and grammatical mistakes. Moreover, the questionnaire designing process will also entail eliminating social desirable responses, which might arise from the use of difficult vocabularies and poorly worded questions.

Lewis and Slack (2007) assert that the outcome of a research study may be affected by the respondent’s participation in the study. Therefore, researchers must nurture a strong relationship with the respondents by observing ethical conduct during the data collection process. During the data collection process, the researcher will adhere to best research practices. First, a reconnaissance will be conducted in order to inform the respondents of the purpose of the study prior to the actual study.

The reconnaissance will enable the researcher to obtain informed consent. Moreover, the researcher will assure the selected respondents of a high degree of confidentiality regarding the data collected from the respondents. In order to enhance the degree of participation, the researcher will avoid coercing the respondents. Thus, the respondents will not be restricted from pulling out of the research study.

Data analysis and presentation

The qualitative research design adopted in conducting this study will enable the researcher to collect a substantial amount of data from the field. Subsequently, the researcher appreciates the importance of effective presentation of the data in order to increase the effectiveness with which the target stakeholders understand the research findings. The data collection exercise will culminate in the collection of diverse types of data.

Some of the data collected will relate to the respondents’ demographic and occupational characteristics such as their educational background, age, gender, and management level. This information is paramount in assessing the variation of opinion regarding the concept of workplace fun across diverse employees and generations. The researcher will adopt graphs, tables, and charts in presenting the demographic information collected. Thus, the researcher will adopt computerized data analysis techniques. One of the tools that will be adopted includes Microsoft Excel, which will improve the effectiveness of data presentation using charts, tables, frequencies, bar graphs, and pie charts.

In order to enhance the data presentation process, the researcher will adopt the Guttmann Likert Scale. Using this Likert Scale will enable the researcher to establish the relationship amongst the various responses received from the respondents. Moreover, the researcher will be in a position to categorize the responses obtained from the market into different categories (Lietz, 2010). Consequently, the researcher will condense the data collected using the questionnaire. Moreover, the research will be in a position to understand the respondents’ opinions regarding the impact of fun in the workplace on their level of job satisfaction, organizational identification, and productivity.

A 5-point Likert Scale will be designed in order to evaluate the respondents’ opinions regarding the relationship between fun in the workplace and the level of the employees’ productivity. In order to assess the impact of workplace fun and the employees’ productivity, the researcher will assess a number of key components that are influenced by fun and hence the level of productivity. Some of the variables that will be evaluated include the degree of collaboration, the employees’ performance, the level of motivation, and job satisfaction. The decision to take into account these variables is informed by the view that there exists a strong relationship between fun in the workplace and the employees’ productivity.

In order to improve the effectiveness with which the responses are categorized, the researcher will include a number of questions aimed at evaluating the impact of fun on job satisfaction, level of motivation, collaboration amongst the workforce, and job performance. The rating scales to be used in categorizing the findings are illustrated below.

Do you consider fun in the workplace to be effective in improving the employees’ satisfaction?

  • No impact=1
  • Very ineffective=2
  • Ineffective=3
  • Effective =4
  • Very effective= 5

On the other hand, the researcher will also assess the impact of workplace fun on the level of job satisfaction. The following question will be used in assessing the relationship between these variables.

Do you believe that workplace fun influences the level of job satisfaction?

  • Strongly agree =5
  • Agree = 4
  • Partially agree=3
  • Disagree=2
  • Strongly disagree=1.

Similarly, the researcher will evaluate the effect of workplace fun on the level of the employees’ motivation by asking the following question.

What is your opinion on the impact of fun in the workplace on the level of employee motivation?

  • Strongly and positively impacts the extent of motivation=5
  • Marginally impacts motivation=4
  • Negatively impacts motivation=3
  • Does not have any impact on the level of motivation=2
  • Has a strong and negative effect on employee motivation=1

Finally, the researcher will assess the relationship between workplace fun and collaboration amongst employees in diverse departments. The following dimensions will be used in assessing this relationship.

  • Fun is strong and positively correlated to employee collaboration=5
  • Fun is marginally correlated with collaboration=4
  • Fun is negatively correlated with collaboration= 3
  • Fun and employee collaboration are not correlated=2
  • Workplace fun is negatively correlated with collaboration=1

The research assumes that using the above 5-point Likert Scale will enhance the effectiveness with which the researcher analyses the data collected.

Strengths and weaknesses of the research methodology

Adopting a mixed research design will have a significant impact on the quality of the study. First, using the hybrid or mixed approach will improve the effectiveness with which the researcher collects data from the field, as s/he will be in a position to design questions that align with the research study. On the other hand, a quantitative research approach will enable the researcher to quantify the research data. Creswell (2009) asserts that mixed “research design improves the quality of a study by having one design build on the other or embed one within the other” (p.30).

Merging qualitative and quantitative research design improves the validity and relevance of a study’s findings as the research develops a broad view of the research problem. Creswell (2009) further argues that when “researchers examine many individuals quantitatively, the understanding of any one individual is diminished; moreover, when researchers study a few individuals qualitatively, the ability to generalize the results to many is lost” (p. 38). Consequently, using a mixed research design plays a fundamental role in addressing the inadequacies associated with a particular research design. For example, relying on quantitative research design may limit the effectiveness, with which the researcher collects data involving human behaviour.

Conversely, Creswell (2009) opines that relying on qualitative research design may affect the quality of the study because the personal interpretations made may be biased. Subsequently, it might be difficult to generalize a study’s findings to the overall target population. Another major strength associated with mixed research design is that the researcher will be in a position to answer research questions that require the incorporation of both qualitative and qualitative approaches. This study takes into account such questions, which are answered based on the 5-point Likert Scale.

Despite the above strengths, the researcher will encounter a number of challenges by relying on the mixed research design. First, the application of a hybrid or mixed research approach will depend on the researcher’s skills. Creswell (2009) is of the view that it is imperative for researchers to possess certain skills in order to apply the hybrid research approach effectively. In order to deal with this challenge, the researcher will develop sufficient skills on how to use qualitative and quantitative research approaches in conducting research studies. Some of the skills that the researcher will acquaint with include data collection methods and analysis techniques. Furthermore, the researcher will develop skills on how to utilize computerized data analysis tools such as Microsoft Excel.

Another major limitation that the researcher will encounter relates to time and resources. A substantial amount of resources and time will be required in order to collect a sufficient amount of data from the field. For example, collecting and analyzing the data collected qualitatively and quantitatively might consume a substantial amount of time and resources. In a bid to overcome this limitation, the researcher will assess the research requirements before commencing the data collection and analysis processes.

Summary

The paper illustrates the various aspects that will be considered in conducting a study aimed at assessing the relationship between fun in the workplace and the employees’ productivity. In order to understand the relationship between workplace fun and the employees’ productivity, the study will assess diverse workplace issues that are affected by the working environment. Some of the issues that will be evaluated include the level of the employees’ motivation, job satisfaction, employee collaboration, and job performance. Integrating fun into the workplace can improve the working environment, hence influencing the employees’ productivity.

In order to improve the quality of the study, this study will rely on a mixed research design. Subsequently, the researcher will incorporate the quantitative and qualitative research approaches. The qualitative research design will enable the researcher to gather a substantial amount of data from the field. Additionally, the qualitative research design will ensure that data is collected from the natural setting by selecting respondents from well-established firms in the manufacturing, retail, and hospitality industries. Consequently, the likelihood of collecting relevant data from the field will improve significantly. Using a mixed research design will improve the quality of the study, as it will be possible to eliminate the inadequacies associated with using a single research design.

Furthermore, taking into account diverse economic sectors will improve the degree of generalizing the study’s findings. On the other hand, quantitative research design will play a vital role in condensing the data collected from the field. Furthermore, quantitative research design will play a fundamental role during the data analysis process. It is projected that adopting the above research methodology and design will improve the quality of the study’s findings, and hence its relevance to organizations in different economic sectors in their strategic management practices.

References

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