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Title : Effect of Employee Engagement Strategies on Social Accountability and Reactivity in Nigerian Tertiary Health Institutions





Abstract

.

Introduction:

Social Accountability and Reactivity in the health sector is a contested and complex concept. Its meaning is often confused and unclear, and it is frequently used as a synonym for ‘Public Health'

( Needle, Petchey, Benson, Scriven, Lawrenson, & Hilari, 2011 ). Although there is no universally agreed definition, there is some consensus that social accountability and reactivity in the context of health care provision refers to holistic strategies encompassing behaviour, health education, community development, empowerment, prevention and protection. It includes a set of principles and strategies that enable individuals and communities to increase control over and improve their health ( Mihelmark, Kickbusch, Rootman, Scriven & Tones, 2008 ).

A number of models and theories, such as the Health Belief Model ( Scriven, 2005 ) and the Community Mobilisation Theory ( Nutbeam & Harris, 2004 ), inform the following three broad approaches to social accountability and reactivity in the health sector: (a) Health education (e.g. interventions to modify behaviours and attitudes; the provision of information, education and advice in order to support healthy lifestyles, activities of daily living and self-care); (b) Individual empowerment (e.g. building psychological perception, self-esteem, self-efficacy, motivation and internal locus of control); and (c) Community development/empowerment (e.g. advising and working with local government, the voluntary sector and other organisations).

These approaches operate at four levels: 1. Primary Health Promotion involves promoting the health of the general population to maintain health, prevent ill health and health damaging behaviour, and improve quality of life; 2. Secondary Health Promotion promotes the health of individuals or groups where health damaging behaviour has already occurred, to change behaviour and prevent health moving to a chronic or irreversible stage; 3. Tertiary Health Promotion promotes the health of those with chronic conditions or a disability to enhance potential for healthy living; and 4. Quaternary Health Promotion promotes the emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of the terminally ill ( Jackson & Waters, 2004 ).

In order to facilitate the process of increasing a person‘s control over their health, agents of health promotion are required to advocate, enable and mediate health action. These actions are stated as building healthy public policy, creating supportive environments, strengthening community action, developing personal skills and reorienting health services ( McPherson, Kersten, George, Lattimer, Breton & Elis, 2006 ). However, in order for effective health promotion to be achieved, it has been made very clear in medical literature that the responsibility for health promotion should be shared between health professionals, wherever health promoting activity is carried out. The International Union of Health Promotion and Health Education ( IUHPE, 2007 ) has specified that to put healthy public policy into practice, the systems, infrastructures, institutions, resources and skills needed to deliver health promotion must be clearly outlined in public health policy. Furthermore, the healthcare sector needs to be reoriented to take greater responsibility for health promotion and the management of chronic disease, especially since such a reorientation also has the potential to make significant contributions to the reduction of healthcare costs ( WHO, 2005 ). The IUHPE ( 2007 ) also states that the most successful health promotion programmes that empower communities are those that are linked to normal daily life, build on local traditions and are led by community members.

Therefore, public health initiatives should be focused on the future development of both prevention and treatment services and emphasising primary and community care services as playing a central role in helping people lead healthy lives. It is reiterated that health promotion should be embedded in the millions of daily contacts between clinical staff and patients and that more should be done to promote health at all life stages, systematically identify and support those most at risk of ill-health, and increase access to services that help people maintain and improve their health and wellbeing, with primary and community clinicians enhancing their role in promoting equality of opportunity and equality of health outcomes ( WHO, 1986 ).

Other activities for public health workers to improve the health of the public include expertise in reducing the problem of obesity, along with continuing action to reduce alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, sexual and mental health. Also, the pivotal role of health care workers in enabling greater participation, independence and health in children, families and older people is also emphasised. Further, dieticians promote healthy food choices and prevent disease by increasing awareness of the link between nutrition and health and translating scientific information relating to food and health into language that the general public can understand (WHO, 2005; IUHPE, 2007; Scriven, 2005).

The involvement of public health practitioners in promoting health is therefore already quite clear. However, in Nigerian tertiary health institutions, it is widely thought that, despite the need for health care workers to expand their health promoting role outlined above, their true potential for making contributions in this area has been poorly understood, most are unwilling to engage in health promotion activities and their skills and expertise consequently underutilised. One reason for this may be the lack of the drivers of engagement and these include among other issues, recognition for outstanding performance, clear work roles, availability of conducive physical work environment, mentoring, availability of opportunities for career advancement and professional development, provision of fair rewards and incentives, adequate supervisor and co-worker support. As a consequence, the performance of the Nigerian tertiary health sector in terms of social accountability and reactivity has often been questioned. The research was therefore, carried out to determine the effect of engagement strategies on social accountability and reactivity in the sector.

Objectives of the Study:

The broad objective of the research was to assess the extent to which employee engagement strategies employed in Nigerian tertiary health institutions influence social accountability and reactivity in the sector. Specifically, the study seeks to achieve the following objectives:

To determine the extent to which recognition for outstanding work (ROW) influences social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

To establish the extent to which clear work roles (CWR) affects social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

To ascertain the extent to which the availability of conducive physical work environment (PWE) affects social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

To establish the extent to which the availability of opportunities for career advancement and professional development (OCA) influences social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

To determine the extent to which the provision of fair and appropriate rewards and incentives (FAR) influences social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

To ascertain the extent to which supervisor support (SUS) influences social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

To ascertain the extent to which co-worker support (CWS) affects social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Research Hypotheses:

To achieve the objectives of the study, the null hypotheses stated below were formulated:

Ho 1 : There is no significant influence between recognition for outstanding work and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Ho 2 : There is no significant effect between role clarity and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Ho 3 : There is no significant effect between conducive work environment and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Ho4: There is no significant influence between opportunities for career advancement and professional development and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Ho 5 : There is no significant influence between fair and appropriate rewards and incentives and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Ho 6 : There is no significant influence between supervisor support and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Ho 7 : There is no significant effect between co-worker support and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

Literature Review:

Employee engagement strategies are a set of workplace features that in combination are crucial to fostering high engagement. Therefore, to drive employees in achieving high levels of engagement, it is crucial to identify the main individual strategies that can motivate the employees to be highly engaged which in turn will lead to improved social accountability and reactivity in the sector.

Much research has emphasised the need for recognition for outstanding work performed by employees. In support of this view, CIPD ( 2006 ) survey suggested that one of the most significant strategies of employee engagement is the recognition for outstanding work. In addition, Jeffrey and Schaffer ( 2007 ) also stressed the relevance of non-financial recognition based rewards as motivationally superior to cash rewards. Therefore, it is expected that if workers in Nigerian tertiary health institutions are well recognised for outstanding work performed by them, they will be more engaged to their job duties, which will in turn, make them more socially responsive to the health needs of the public.

Bolino and Turnley ( 2005 ) and Salamon and Deutsch ( 2006 ) noted that organisations can enhance engagement in their employees by clarifying the roles to be performed by each employee such that each employee knows exactly his responsibilities, duties and performance levels expected by the organisation, thus leading to higher levels of job performance and in turn organisational performance. Hence the research intends to determine the influence of clear work roles on employee engagement and subsequently social accountability reactivity in tertiary health institutions in Nigeria.

Barkker and Demerrouti ( 2008 ) and Schaufeli and Salanova ( 2007 ) contended that one key to keeping employees engaged is to allow them to continue developing throughout their careers. In addition, Wellins and Concelman ( 2005 ) emphasised that most workers have the desire to keep their jobs inventive and interesting by acquiring new skills and applying new approaches in their work. When employees see their organisation as providing opportunities for acquiring new skills that will enhance their personal growth, work becomes more interesting to them which in turn lead to higher levels of performance. Hence, it is expected that the availability of opportunities for career advancement and professional development will influence the engagement and involvement of employees of Nigerian tertiary health institutions in public health programmes.

Deconinck ( 2010 ) asserted that having a supervisor to consult in adverse circumstances and who is willing to give you a listening ear can be a major motivational boost for employees. In addition, working in organisations with cooperative co-workers is essential for higher levels of engagement. This is particularly true if the entire organisation works together by helping each other learn new approaches and better methods of performing tasks. In this case, higher employee engagement is expected. Thus, the presence of supervisors who are willing to help subordinates learn new and better methods of performing their tasks is expected to positively influence the engagement and performance of employees of tertiary health institutions in Nigeria.

A conducive work environment is associated with increased staff collaboration and higher productivity ( Ilozor, Love & Treloar, 2012 ) as well as more positive job attributes and increased job satisfaction ( Lee, 2006 ; Lee & Brand, 2005 ). From a safety perspective, Gyekye ( 2006 ) indicates that environmental conditions affect employee safety perceptions which impact upon employee commitment. Hence, it is expected that providing adequate facilities and a conducive work environment is essential for promoting employee engagement and enhancing the performance of employees of Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

According to Fay and Thompson ( 2001 ) “Rewards systems have a critical role in determining the organization’s ability to attract high potential employees and to retain high performing employees to achieve greater levels of quality and performance”. Available literature suggest that perceived fairness of employee rewards (or the lack thereof) is often at the root of the reasons employees leave organisations ( Njanja, Maina, Kibet, & Njagi, 2013 ; Malhotra, Budhwar & Prowse, 2007 ). The idea of fairness also determines if an employee will make an extra effort to reach organisational goals, for these reasons, it is vital for organisations to ensure that their employee rewards are rooted in principles of fairness. From the assertions above, it is quite clear that fair and appropriate rewards and incentives are essential in enhancing employee engagement and performance in organisations. These incentives are financial and moral incentives and complement each other in the bid to get workers committed to their job duties. Also, it is essential to ensure that equity is maintained in the administration of rewards and incentives in organisations, because the perception of unfairness in rewards and incentives leads to an atmosphere of distrust and hostility reduces employee commitment and promotes employee turnover. Thus, it is important that Nigerian tertiary health institutions provide adequate and equitable rewards and incentives in order to improve and maintain performance levels or be socially responsive to their communities.

Co-worker support can motivate workers to take extra responsibilities and to engage in more pro-social behaviours that are needed to achieving collective goals, including helping co-workers with heavy workloads, sharing resources, and providing advice to co-workers who encounter work problems. Existing empirical studies also demonstrate employees who receive more support from their co-workers might obtain more job resources to deal with stressful and innovative tasks ( Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004, Zhou & George, 2001 ). This implies that, one can obtain emotional resources through interpersonal relationships with others which can enhance one's psychological availability. It also implies that co-worker support can lead to more engaged workers in Nigerian tertiary health institutions who may be more willing to be socially responsive to the health needs of their community.

From the literature review, it is expected that the strategies of engagement will improve social accountability and reactivity in the sector. Therefore, it is believed that once the individual engagement strategies are well implemented, workers are likely to become engaged which in turn will lead to improved social accountability and reactivity.

Methodology:

The study was a cross-sectional survey of Nigerian Federal Medical Centres. The sample of the study included 412 medical staff of the 22 Federal Medical Centres in Nigeria. The research study assessed dimensions/aspects of employee engagement by using a survey instrument. Survey respondents provided their ratings on a Likert rating scale, based on self observation. The primary purpose of the survey instrument was to measure employee perceptions of the engagement strategies covered in the study. The survey instrument contained 75 multiple choice questions pertaining to engagement strategies and employee retention. The respondents provided their input along a continuum of strongly disagree to strongly agree for questions pertaining to both engagement strategies and employee retention. The rating scale on these multiple-choice questions is akin to a 5-point Likert scale. The responses were categorised into three-agree which is 3.0≤X≤5.0, indifferent which is 2.0≤X<3.0 and disagree which is 1.0≤X<2.0, where X is the mean score of responses.

For the purpose of the study, reliability tests pertaining to clear work roles yielded a Cronbach’s α of .81; opportunities for career advancement and professional development had .89, conducive physical work environment had .87, supervisor support had .83, co-worker support had .93, constructive feed back and mentoring had .84, recognition for outstanding performance had .83, while fair rewards and incentives had .84. Also, reliability tests in respect of social accountability and reactivity produced a Cronbach’s α of .92. Nunnally ( 1978 ) recommended a Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.8 or higher for research studies. Since all values are over 0.80, the scale associated with the survey instrument was considered acceptable.

Table 1 : Model Summary between Employee Engagement Strategies and Social Accountability and Reactivity

Model Summary b
Model R R Square Adjusted R Square Std. Error of the Estimate Change Statistics Durbin-Watson
R Square Change F Change df1 df2 Sig. F Change
1 .979 a .959 .958 .27639 .959 1335.300 7 404 .000 .216
a. Predictors: (Constant), FAR, CWR, CWS, PWE, ROW, SUS, OCA
b. Dependent Variable: SAR

Table 2 .21: Regression Coefficients between Employee Engagement Strategies and Social Accountability and Reactivity

Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. Collinearity Statistics
B Std. Error Beta Tolerance VIF
1 (Constant) -.275 .095 -2.895 .004
CWR -.058 .035 -.034 -1.667 .096 .241 4.153
OCA .112 .070 .098 1.591 .112 .027 36.774
PWE .731 .040 .680 18.391 .000 .075 13.314
SUS .258 .068 .189 3.792 .000 .041 24.249
CWS -.169 .070 -.122 -2.397 .017 .040 25.138
ROW .094 .068 .082 1.382 .168 .029 34.668
FAR .122 .034 .101 3.588 .000 .130 7.695

Test of Hypotheses:

This section tests the research hypotheses stated earlier. Further details of the test of hypotheses are shown below.

Hypothesis One: There is no significant influence between recognition for outstanding work and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions

From Tables 1 and 2, recognition for outstanding work is insignificant with social accountability and reactivity (p-value is 0.168 which is greater than 0.05). Therefore, the null hypothesis is accepted that there is no significant influence between recognition for outstanding work and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Hypothesis Two: There is no significant effect between role clarity and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

From Tables 1 and 2, role clarity is insignificant with social accountability and reactivity (p-value of 0.096>0.05). Therefore, the null hypothesis is accepted that there is an insignificant effect between role clarity and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Hypothesis Three: There is no significant effect between conducive work environment and social accountability and reactivity in tertiary health institutions in Nigeria.

From Tables 1 and 2, the variable, physical work environment is significant with social accountability and reactivity (p-value is 0.000 which is <0.05). Therefore, the null hypothesis is rejected and the alternative accepted that there is a significant effect between conducive work environment and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Hypothesis Four: There is no significant influence between opportunities for career advancement and professional development and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Also, Tables 1 and 2, show that opportunities for career advancement and professional development insignificantly related with social accountability and reactivity (p-value of 0.112). Therefore, the null hypothesis is accepted that there is no significant influence between opportunities for career advancement and professional development and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Hypothesis Five: There is no significant influence between fair and appropriate rewards and incentives and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Tables 4.19, 4.20 and 4.21, show that fair and appropriate rewards and incentives significantly relate with social accountability and reactivity (p-value is 0.000). Therefore the null hypothesis is rejected and the alternative accepted that there is a significant influence between fair and appropriate rewards and incentives and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Hypothesis Six: There is no significant influence between supervisor support and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Similarly, Tables 4.19, 4.20 and 4.21, indicate that supervisor support is significantly related with social accountability and reactivity (P-value is 0.000). Therefore, the null hypothesis is rejected and the alternative accepted that there is a significant influence between supervisor support and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Hypothesis Seven: There is no significant effect between co-worker support and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian tertiary health institutions.

Also, Tables 1 and 2, show that co-worker support is significantly related with social accountability and reactivity (p-value of 0.017). Therefore, the null hypothesis is rejected and the alternative accepted that co-worker support significantly affects social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian Tertiary Health institutions.

Discussion of Findings:

Recognition for outstanding work is insignificant with social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian Tertiary Health Care Sector. Although the study did not find a significant relationship between recognition and social accountability and reactivity, this finding is not without precedence. Recognition has been found to have a weak but positive relationship with engagement by Harter, Schmidt and Hayes ( 2002 ). Also, Macfarlane ( 2005 ) found an insignificant but positive influence between recognition and the implementation of disease prevention and health promotion programmes in children and adolescents. In addition, in another study by Gupta, Khan, and Patel ( 2001 ), a weak relationship was revealed between recognition and health workers involvement in family planning promotional efforts.

Role clarity is insignificant with social accountability and reactivity. This is surprising, although such non-significant findings have also been observed in prior research. Anand, Banu, Rengarajan, Thirumoorthy, Rajkumar and Madhumitha ( 2016 ) found insignificant relationship between role clarity and employee engagement in a study of postal employees in rural areas. In a study by Peters, Chakraborty, Mahapatra and Steinhardt ( 2010 ), it was shown that role clarity is positively but insignificantly related to workers s' motivation. Also, studies by Mishra ( 1982 ) and Maestad and Torsvik ( 2008 ) revealed an insignificant relationship between role clarity and performance. In addition, there is some evidence that the effects of role ambiguity or clarity on attitudes are mediated by different needs of organisational members for clarity. Wolfe, Snoek and Rosenthal ( 1961 ) and Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, Rosenthal ( 1964 ) found that role ambiguity was highly related to experienced tension only for those workers who had high "need for cognition".

Conducive physical work environment is significantly related with social accountability and reactivity. This finding of the study is consistent with the results of earlier studies. Studies by Seights and Crim ( 2006 ) revealed a strong relationship between adequate resources and engagement. In addition a study by Islam and Shazali ( 2011 ) shows that a good quality physical working environment leads to better service to customers and supports higher output. Rowe, De Savigny, Lanata, and Victora ( 2005 ) found a significant relationship between work environment and workers involvement in public health initiatives. Also, Meessen, Musango, Kashala and Lemlin ( 2006 ) found a significant relationship between availability of work tools and performance of health workers.

Opportunities for career advancement and professional development insignificantly related with social accountability and reactivity. This finding is somewhat surprising because scholars have argued that the availability of opportunities for career advancement and professional development is an important resource that promotes employee engagement and organisational performance ( Hackman & Oldham, 1976 ; Ryan & Deci, 2000 ; Combs, Liu, Hall & Ketchen, 2006 ). However, studies by Meessen, Musango, Kashala and Lemlin ( 2006 ) and Gupta, Khan and Patel ( 2001 ) revealed insignificant relationships between opportunities for career development and performance of health workers. Notwithstanding, a possible reason for this null finding may be that career advancement and professional development is a high level need- self-actualisation (personal growth, fulfilment). Nurses and similar cadres of employees are the most dominant cadre of health workers in the Nigerian tertiary health sector. This group of health care workers may be trying to satisfy lower level needs rather than the high level need of self-actualisation.

Fair and appropriate rewards and incentives significantly relate with social accountability and reactivity. The result agrees with the findings of studies conducted by Mikovich and Newman ( 2005 ), and Vandenberghe and Tremblay ( 2008 ) that found a strong positive relationship between fair rewards and engagement. In addition, Ram and Prabhakar ( 2011 ) posited that job characteristics and reward (intrinsic and extrinsic) are antecedents of employee engagement. Al-Nsour ( 2012 ), investigated the impact of monetary incentives on the performance of employees in Jordanian universities. The findings indicated that monetary incentives were ranked at the top of other incentives and correlated with performance.

Supervisor support is significantly related with social accountability and reactivity. This result is in line with studies by Roades, L., Eisenberger, R., & Armeli, S. ( 2001 ) and Saks ( 2006 ) that found a strong correlation between supervisor support and engagement. Das, Hammer and Leonard ( 2008 ) found a significant relationship between employees’ relationship with supervisor and the quality of medical advice in low income countries. This signifies that supervisors who appropriately support and "time in" to individual subordinates, elicit direct commitment in return.

Co-worker support is significantly related with social accountability and reactivity. The finding is consonant with many other studies. Schaufeli and Bakker ( 2004 ) found that co-worker social support is positively related to the engagement dimensions of vigour and dedication in a cross-sectional study. Also, Simpson ( 2008 ) reported that interaction among nurses was related to job engagement. In addition, Jannsen, Schaufeli, and Houkes ( 1999 ) reported on a cross-sectional study of nurses that co-worker support is negatively related to the burnout dimensions of emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation. McLoughlin and Batley ( 2012 ) in their analysis of the effects of sector characteristics on accountability relationships in service delivery, found evidence that supports the relationship between employee engagement (including social support) and social accountability in the health sector.

Conclusion:

Based on the results of the study, there is a weak relationship between employee engagement strategies and social accountability and reactivity in Nigerian health institutions. Out of the employee engagement strategies investigated in the study, role clarity, recognition for outstanding performance, mentoring and opportunities for career advancement and professional development are not significantly contributing to social accountability and reactivity in the sector. The other strategies (fair rewards and incentives, supervisor support, conducive physical work environment and co-worker support) were found to significantly relate to social accountability and reactivity in the sector. Hence, the organisations need to prioritize and give more attention to the strategies that are highly contributing to social accountability and reactivity in the sector with a view of becoming more socially responsive to the health needs of their communities.

Recommendations:

Based on the findings of the research, the recommendations below are made:

  1. The government should provide a competitive benefit package for the Nigerian tertiary health sector. This can be achieved by carrying out surveys to know what is available in the health sectors of other countries so that it can be used as a basis and modified to have an edge.

  2. Engagement of employees should be enhanced by the government through the provision of a conducive physical work environment (work tools and equipment, comfortable office accommodation, amongst others).

  3. Management of the Nigerian tertiary health sector should pay close attention to the selection or appointment and development of supervisors to ensure that they maximize their potential to be engaging leaders.

  4. Finally, though three of the seven strategies covered in the study (clarity of work roles, recognition for outstanding performance and opportunities for career advancement and professional development) showed no significant influence on social accountability and reactivity in the sector, research evidence shows that employee engagement levels fluctuate and the significance of the antecedents of engagement is also not static ( Sanborn, Malhotra, & Atchison, 2011 ; Kontakos & Stepp, 2007 ). Therefore, management needs to continually carry out engagement surveys in order to establish the factors that most significantly affect engagement levels of workers at various points in time, with a view of formulating appropriate strategies that would enhance engagement levels of workers that will positively influence social accountability and reactivity in the sector.

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Article Details

Issue: Vol 9 No 07 (2018)
Page No.: 20867-20879
Section: Management and Economics
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15520/ijcrr/2018/9/07/544


 How to Cite
Abata*, D. R. (2018). Effect of Employee Engagement Strategies on Social Accountability and Reactivity in Nigerian Tertiary Health Institutions. International Journal of Contemporary Research and Review, 9(07), 20867-20879. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.15520/ijcrr/2018/9/07/544

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