The main goal of the dissertation is to find out whether part time workers are less committed to their work places, as compared to full time workers. The study will seek to answer a number of questions. However, the main question will be: Are the commitment levels for the peripheral workers towards places of their work the same as that of the core workers? In order to achieve its objectives, the study will focus on answering three research questions. These include: Do peripheral workers demonstrate the same level of commitment towards the workplace as this is the case with core workers? Does the time working for the same organisation, affect the workers’ commitment and its level? What are the main factors that influence commitment of workers?
The scope of the research will be limited to Hilton International Hotels only. The study will specifically consider 2 of the 76 UK based branches of the hotel chain. The preferred hotels will be picked form London. In order to obtain data, the study will use such methods as the semi structured interview which will focus on obtaining information with the focus groups of the part time and the full time employees from the selected organizations. Interview will also be conducted on one on one basis, with the HR managers directly dealing with the issues affecting the employees, as well as the senior managers of the two branches who are perceived to have a high level of influence on the organizational policy issues. There will also be a review of the prevailing conditions and the terms under which both the permanent employees and their part time counterparts are working. This means that the researcher will seek more understanding of the job descriptions, policies, systems, and structures that guide the work of the two categories of employees.
The study objectives will be: to find out whether peripheral workers demonstrate the same commitment with respect to their workplace as this is the case with core workers; whether the amount of time that employee spent working for an organization has an effect on the level of his or her commitment; finally the key factors that affect the level of commitment of a worker.
Rationale of the Study
There has been an increase in preference of non-standard employment among the human resources managers of most developed organizations. The most sited reasons by the human resource managers to justify this trend is the willingness to reduce cost, meet the demand of customers, and to enjoy the flexibility as far as the balancing of the work initiative is concerned. There has been a biased assumption in the field that part-time workers are not as committed as full time workers. However, many of the organizations have not bothered to find out whether this would be the case and why it would be so.
It is, therefore, necessary to have an independent study that can provide the public and the human resource managers with accurate and unbiased information, so as to help them in making decisions regarding the choice of an appropriate nature of employment to offer. This study seeks to enrich the information available in the current literature by being unique in its research design. The study will acknowledge the need to have the views of all the stakeholders in regard to the topic. For, examples, the study will, first, seek the independent responds of both the part-time and the full-time employees regarding the topic. The findings at this level will then inform the areas which would need more clarification from the relevant HR specialists and the senior manager. This way, the study will be able to overcome the limitations of the initial ones done in this field while, at the same time, providing new information on the loopholes identified during the literature review.
Moreover, this research is also in line with the findings of the past studies that reported that the human resources managers need to be equipped with information regarding the factors that would affect the commitment of employees. This would avoid such generalizations as assuming that all the part time employees are not as committed to their work places as the permanent employees. Such generalizations, if not corrected, may act as significant barriers to the organizations which would have enjoyed the advantages that come with part-time employment.
The research will, therefore, enable organizations to enjoy such advantages as resulting from appropriate involvement of the part time employees. These may include; enhanced scheduling flexibility, reduction of both the amount of money that organizations have to spend on its wages and benefits, and the increase in efficiency with which the business can meet the demands of its customers. It, therefore, means that any organization, which avoids involving part time employees, is forfeiting such advantages. Moreover, studies have shown that those who work on a part time basis represent a greater proportion of the workforce and ignoring their plight would be fatal to the economy. This is well demonstrated in a study curried out by Conway and Briner, which revealed that the US alone had 20% of its employees working on a part time basis. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics published in the year 2001, this translated to over 22 million employees with Conway and Briner noting that it had doubled within the past four decades. The need to understand factors that cause the differences of the level of commitment of employees, thus, can not be avoided by any organization or country.
Conway and Briner note that, despite the importance of the part-time work force, as indicated by their proportion and contribution in the employment field, many organizations have not prioritized the need for regular research into the factors that are likely to lower their level of commitment. Instead, most organizations have been guided by generalizations that deny them an opportunity of benefitting from this vital resource. As a result, only a few empirical studies have been carried out regarding the commitment of part-time employees to their work. Most studies have only had clear indication of the demographic differences between the part-time employees and the full-time ones, but not the level of the differences between their commitments. Even the few, which have made attempts to finding out these differences, have not presented a theoretical study which could enable them find out the main factors that would commit a worker. This, instead, has been based on the general assumptions.
In contrast, this study acknowledges the enormous contributions of the part-time employees in their respective organizations and goes ahead to, in finding out whether the level of their commitment is lower than that of their permanent counterparts, carry out an independent and unbiased study. The study seeks to correct the weaknesses and biases which had characterized the past studies by taking a number of considerations. First, the study views all employees as equals and as people who have sought for opportunities in their present, working stations because they were committed to them, in the first place. Moreover, the study will utilized various research methods to collect first hand information from the employees themselves and use this information further to probe their bosses on the hidden factors that might make part-time employees less committed to their work.
The paper will also present its findings and the other factors that affect the level to which an employee can be committed to an organization, other than the basis of them being either part time or full time employees. One of such essential facts, which will be considered in this study, is the effect that the work attitudes of both the full time and part time employees have on the level of their commitment to the organizations for which they work. This factor was chosen for this study because of two reasons. First, it is a key factor in determining employees’ commitment to their work. Secondly, it has also suffered the nature of the past studies which have mostly been so theoretical, leading to unconvincing psychological resolutions which cannot act as the basis upon which the differences of the level of commitment of the two categories of employees can be explained.
This way, the research will address the existing loopholes created by the various limitations of the past studies. This will provide enough ground for the explanation of the difference in the level of commitment between the two categories of employees.
Theoretical Concept of Organizational Commitment
The organizational commitment as a concept is extremely popular today especially in the organizational and industrial psychology. A good proportion of the studies done in the past on this subject gave the concept an attitudinal perspective, including such aspects as being ready to identify with and be loyal to the organization for which one works. The concept of attitudinal perspective has been defined as the employees’ effective commitment in relation to the way, in which he or she is identified and involved in the organization, for which he or she is working. Organizational commitment is also indicated by such aspects as the intention to remaining in it, internalizing and identifying with the organizational goals and values, and finally, how much one is willing to put an extra effort for the benefit of the organization. Commitment, therefore, provides a strong linkage between the employees as such and their respective organization.
According to “side bet theory”, individual employees are only committed to the organization whenever their positions in the organizations are still intact. The theory emphasizes that the employee’s level of commitment is not influenced by the experience through which they are going. On the other hand, Porter and Steer, while supporting the theory, described organizational commitment as behaviour in which the organization can lock their employees.
According to Conway and Briner, there are a few researches that have been done on the topic of the differences in commitment between part time employees and full time employees. However, they note that even with the many studies, there has never been any empirical study done with the main objective on the establishment of the extent and reasons behind the difference in the level of commitment between the two groups of employees. The few studies, which have been done, have combined the relationship between commitments and satisfaction with the status of work. An example of such finding is a study conducted by McGinnis and Morrow and the findings published in 1990.
Conway and Briner have identified a number of scholars who have carried out research on this topic. However, they note a high level of inconsistencies in their findings. For example, studies by both Martin and Peterson in 1987 found part time workers to be more committed, while that by Lee and Johnson carried out in 1991 found out that the part time employees were less committed. On the other hand, another study by Krausz in 2000 found out that both groups of employees showed the same level of commitment towards their work.
Most of these past studies are majorly criticized because of their being theoretically designed. This has made their findings presented in the form of clear differences, which are empirical in nature, in general terms. Conway and Briner note that little efforts were put by the past researchers in trying to explain the difference between the two groups. In cases where attempts to come up with the explanations were made, the researchers employed the partial inclusion and frame of reference theories, which only included part time employees partially. The argument has been that such employees spend only a small fraction of the time in their work stations, while most of their time they spend in other activities away from the organization.
It is thus clear that these theories have not given part-time employees equal treatment. For example, the theory of frame of reference categorizes part time employees as having a different reference frame from the one applicable to full time employees. This notion arose in line with the belief that during comparison, part time employees will evaluate their jobs based on different groups and environmental aspects from the aspects used by those employed on a full time basis. An example has been the finding that part time employees normally put more consideration on how flexible their job is than full time employees.
All these theories have, therefore, been employed in the study in a way in which they contradict one another in their explanation of the differences in the level of employees’ commitment and other related factors such as job satisfaction. For instance, being poor in the way one socialize has been used to judge certain employees as not being committed to their work. According to Conway and Briner, such inferences have been based on that both the partial inclusion theory and the frames of reference theory are easy to be manipulated by any researcher in their explanation of any findings concluded empirically. They further note that all the two theories have never been empirically tested, and that based on the fact that they are both not well elaborated, the mode in which they are to be operated is not clearly defined. According to them, this is the reason as to why there has been little understanding of the reasons behind the low level of commitment among part time employees and any other aspect related to them.
Other Factors Causing the Difference in the Employee’s Level of Commitment
Conway and Briner reported a study, in which psychological framework was used as the basis, so as to understand the reasons why those who are not employed on a full time basis are not as committed as those who are employed on a full time basis. They defined their concept as the beliefs of individuals and noted that it is normally shaped by the agreement, which an organization signs with its employees. That means it has to do with how these employees perceive the promises that they receive from the organization for which they work. Such believes, normally, make the employees have an expectation of appreciations in terms of inducements in return to the contributions they make to the company.
The psychological contract has thus been viewed as a framework that can be used to explain the relationship between employers and employees which, in turn, has a significant effect on the level to which the employees will be committed to their work. According to Conway and Briner, this concept can best be applicable so as to explain the behaviours and attitudes of the employees towards their employers. This can be done based on the contents of the negotiation and how the process of negotiation itself is carried out in a certain organization.
Commitment and Attitudes
Conway and Briner note studies have revealed that there is a relationship between psychological contract and attitudinal differences experienced at the various workplaces. According to them, these factors affect all the employees irrespective of whether they are employed on a full time or part time basis. However, in depth analysis has revealed that those employed on a full time basis differs from those employed on a part time basis on several attitudes, which affect the level of their commitment. This means that the level of psychological contract fulfilment, which one receives, can be used to explain their attitudes, which are useful in understanding their level of commitment.
The breach or fulfilment of this contract is what determines whether an employee will be committed to the organization or not. Research has shown that, in a case where the organization is keen to honour the psychological contract, the employees always exhibit a high level of fulfilment and, thus, commitment to the organization. In such a situation, the employees will not be willing to quit the organization. It is, therefore, clear that the concept of psychological contract could be particularly applicable in explaining the behaviours and attitudes that are common with employees. According to Conway and Briner, this concept is applicable even in the explanation of the behaviours of contingent employees, provided the variety of employment contract is known.
Conway and Briner identified a number of reasons why part-time employees’ psychological contract would be different from that of the employees employed on a permanent basis. Such differences may be caused by the disparities in the promises made to each of these two groups. Normally, the extent to which this psychological contract is fulfilled differ, which is based on reasons emanating from the differences at the level of the organization, interpersonal, individual, and those related to the fact that some employees spend less time at their station of work.
At the level of the organization, studies have revealed that most of the organizations treat their part-time employees in a different manner from the way in which they treat their full-time counterparts. Their contract and its fulfilment thereof are normally based on the amount and nature of work they undertake, the advancement opportunity, the benefit coverage, and the autonomy. Giving example, Conway and Briner (281) note that most of the organizations do not usually offer the same opportunities for promotion and training to the part time employees as that which they give to the full-time employees. Equally, some organizations only hire the part timers to help them whenever they are overwhelmed. They thus use them to achieve their own motives. This is likely to affect the level of commitment that an employee will have towards the organization for which he works.
According to Birkelund, it is because of the difference in their career orientations, that some part timers are loosely committed to the organizations for which they work. However, she notes that some part time employees have simply not been so much committed to their places of work because of the intension of enjoying the flexibility that comes with working on a part time basis. Such employees need more time to attend other commitments that they may have outside the official assignments from the organization. This is contrary to the permanent employees who, on the other hand, have high expectations from the organizations for which they work, making them especially committed to them. Such employees normally have higher expectations of benefiting from the organization, both on short and long-term basis.
Interpersonal level normally concerns with the way in which workers are treated either by their fellow workers or their supervisors. These may include practices that are understood to be illegal like stereotypes, which may also affect the level of commitment an employee may be showing towards the organization. Finally, because they are only available at the organization for a short time, the organizations’ may not offer part time employees more promises as is done to other employees. In fact, in many cases, some employees are not even well conversant with the promises the company has for them. This may lead such problems as related to poor communication between the employees and the organization with lack of commitment being one of them.
Birkelund has noted that irrespective of the fact that the level of significance of the part time work has grown, organizations have continued to construct it negatively. This explains why many organizations have continued to exploit their employees. She warns that there is a need to shift the theoretical representation of both the part time employees and part time work. She notes that the growth of significance of part time work should be taken positively as a pluralistic, arrangement of career, and equitable work. She notes the tendency for people in the developed nations like the US and the UK to associate part time work with penalties such as inadequate benefit.
She observes that the HR of many leading organizations within the developed world normally associate part time work with low wages, higher percentage workers with low skilled and low level of commitment, lack of job security, and finally lack of enough opportunities for career development. She notes the tendency of sociologists to portray part time work as secondary work while at the same time such concepts as “a new subclass of workers” have been used to describe those who are working on a part time basis. He also mentioned the claim by scholars like Cathrine Hakin who had argued that women who presented themselves in Europe’s labour market were either “self made” or “grateful slaves”. The diffidence between the two categories, according to her, depends on the level of commitment of these women to their work.
Describing her concept of “grateful slaves”, Birkelund notes that Hakin had argued that such women who work on a part time basis in the occupations dominated by women, especially those with low pay, are normally lowly committed to their work. She, however, emphasized that the notion of viewing all part time job as disadvantageous is not correct. According to her, such claims do not have their grounds and, therefore, only works to influence the commitment of those who are seeking to render their services on a part time basis. According to her observation, various nations and organizations have improved the commitment of their part time employees by presenting cogent formulated agreements.
He notes that whenever the part time workers are presented with proportionate wages and reasonable benefits, they normally show a high level of commitment just like their colleagues employed on a permanent basis. Equally, research has shown that those part time workers who are included in viable career paths have shown significant level of commitment. Birkelund urges that countries and organizations need to integrate part time work with the policies guiding the operation of the work place. She observed that this is already happening in the majority of the European countries where the part time jobs is already being supplied as a standard work. Those working on a part time basis in these nations, therefore, enjoy reduced working hours, proportionate benefits and wages as well as full protection of their employment. She argued that this could be the reasons behind the findings that there is a high level of commitment among the part timers in the European nations, in comparison to the cases with the US countries.
It is thus clear that there are a number of other factors besides an employee being a full time or part time employee, which affects the level to which an employee will be committed to his work irrespective of whether they work on a part time or full time basis. In summary, the factors include the incorporation of part time work as a standard form of employment within the organizational policy, opportunities for career progression, benefit coverage and equitable remuneration among other kinds of social protection offered by the organizations (Birkelund, 11).
In its philosophical approach, the study employed a mixture of critical realism and interpretivism. This was based on the understanding that it is almost impossible to have a research question in this study addressed entirely by the philosophical approach. The critical realism fits the study, since there are general assumptions that have been made regarding the relationship between the commitment of part time workers and their commitment in the work place. However, because the reason behind such an allegation is not yet established, there would be a need for an independent study involving all he stakeholders to help ascertain the claim. An interpretive would, therefore, help in establishing clear links between these variables. This means that the study would be able to find out and explain the reasons for the connections between part time workers and the allegations put against them.
The study also takes into account the additional factors that affect the commitment of workers like the conditions the workers are subjected to and terms of employment. Such concepts are normally understood via interpretive means. This was made possible, since the approach makes an assumption that the reality cannot always be observed and is, therefore, determined by the relationship between the employer, especially the HR and the part time and full time workers.
The study employed a mixture of deductive and inductive approaches. This enabled to test the existing arguments derived from the theory of the frame of reference and that of partial inclusion. The research was also based on the already known facts and the experiences of the researcher both in management and the applied, conceptual model. However, to enable the researcher succeed in generating new knowledge on the topic, the study employed the use of semi-structured interview, which is understood as being more inductive.
On the strategy of the research, the study employed the use of a case study. This enabled the researcher to obtain and present holistic findings on the subject, in question. The strategy, for example, allowed a research around people, structures, and even policies. This means that the study is likely to succeed in demonstrating how the commitment of employees can be affected or complemented through the provision of favourable terms. This was made possible through employing the use of semi-structured interviews. The method was complimented by the use of the qualitative questionnaire. The two methods were considered viable since they would also help the researcher to save time, hence, enabling working within the budgeted time frame.
The one on one interview was also conducted with a number of the relevant HR specialist. Overall, the two methods helped the researcher to have a better understanding of perspectives and views of the part time employees, full time employees and those of the HR managers towards difference in the level of commitments between the two categories of employees. This way, the researcher was be able to know whether the claims that part time employees are less committed to their work than the full time employees is anything to go by or mere claims having understood the conditions under which the part time employees work. This also allowed the researcher to make appropriate recommendations and conclusions which will not only be helpful to Hilton International Hotel but the entire HR profession.
The case study was a holistic two cases study with two branches of the Hilton International Hotel which were the units of analysis within the United Kingdom. Thus, the research considered 100 employees with 50 employees being selected from each hotel. Out of the 50, 25 were part time employees with the other 25 full time employees. That means that each of the two hotels had 25 of their full time employees and 25 of their part time employees participating in the research. Stratified sampling method was used in selecting the participants. This enabled the employees from the two organizations to be divided into either full time or part time employee groups. After coming up with the two groups, the 25 representatives from each group were then chosen, based the on random sampling method to give each member the same probability of being considered.
The use of case study enabled the researcher to carry out the study from a number of stakeholder perspectives. This means that besides interviewing the HR specialists under which the issues affecting the employees directly lies, the senior manager who is viewed to have a knowledge and influence on the formulation of the organizational policies was also interviewed on the one on one basis. The study also considered probing part time employees, so as to find out additional reasons why they would be less committed to their work places. It is also worth noting that considering two different branches enabled the researcher to compare the findings obtained from different cases. This may give additional insights like the possibility of the attitudes of the part time employees being determined by circumstances surrounding their work.
Choice and Limitations of the Research Methods
It is, therefore, obvious that this study employed the use of four methods. First, the semi-structured interviews, which were used to conduct the focus group study with both the full time employees and the part time employees from the two hotels. Second was the one on one interview, which helped in obtaining information from both the HR manager dealing directly with the issues of employees and the senior HR managers of the selected branches. There was also an extensive review of the job descriptions of both the part time employees and the full time employees. Finally, the study considered reviewing the organizational and the national, corporate HR documents. Of much interest were the documented policies, systems, and structures governing the relationship between the part time employees and their employers. This enabled the researcher to get insights on the conditions under which both the full time employees and the part time employees work.
The semi-structured interview was chosen because it allows the researcher to seek clarifications from the interviewee. The focus group was also considered since it would enable the participants to discuss freely giving close insights about the topic of discussion. On the other hand, the one on one interview with senior HR managers and the HR managers helped give more insights on what was already known about the topic and the answers obtained from the focus group discussions with the full time employees and the part time employees. The only limitation, which could be common to these methods, would be the researcher taking more time than was allocated in the timetable. However, these methods were, therefore, highly appropriate for this research.
Data Analysis and Ethical Issues
The participants who were interviewed had no problem with having the researcher jotting short hand notes on the issues that they discussed. In addition, the researcher sought the permission of the participants to have the proceedings recorded. More attention was paid on the sections of the interview that were essential for answering the research questions which he transcribed. This enabled the researcher to have easy task during the data analysis considering that he transferred all the data and stored them safely in a personal computer. He then erased the data from the temporary storage digital device as was agreed with the participants. Concerning the ethical considerations, the researcher secured permissions from the management of the two hotels and that of the participants long before the actual study. Moreover, the participants’ voices were only recorded only after their consent was secured.