Enhancing Employee Engagement for Small and Medium Enterprises in Taiwan

Enhancing Employee Engagement for Small and Medium Enterprises in Taiwan

Kuo-Tai Cheng (National Tsing Hua University, Hsin-Chu, Taiwan) and Kirk Chang (University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/IRMJ.2019010102

Abstract

The aim of the research is to study the employee engagement strategies utilised in Taiwan's SMEs from the perspective of the employees. In doing so, a qualitative research method was employed using semi-structured interviews. Nine participants from five sectors of SMEs (electronics & information, metal transportation, machinery and equipment, food manufacturing, and textile) were interviewed. The authors' results reveal that having high levels of engagement amongst employees in Taiwan's SMEs will bring about an increase in work commitment amongst employees which encourages productivity for the organisation. These findings hold several important theoretical and practical implications.
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Introduction

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been found to accelerate the achievement of socio-economic objectives, including poverty alleviation in countries (Cook & Nixon, 2000). Due to SMEs’ importance in the development of the economy of several countries around the world (Mead, 1994), human resource (HR) practitioners have developed a special interest in what contributes to SMEs’ success in achieving a sustainable, competitive advantage in such economies (Teimouri, Jenab, Moazeni, & Bakhtiari, 2017). The Small and Medium Enterprise Administration of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs defines SMEs as organisations with fewer than 200 employees that create an annual turnover of not more than NT$100 million (Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, 2016). Moreover, SMEs comprise a large portion of the total employment growth of several countries around the world. SMEs produce a significant share of increases in the gross domestic product (GDP) in such countries (ADB, 2002). Considering the vital role SMEs play in Taiwan, it is important to know what engagement strategies the management within these companies employ to keep their staff committed to growing their companies.

Regarding the performance of SMEs in 2015, of particular note is the number of SMEs, which reached a record level of 1,383,981 and accounted for 97.69 per cent of all enterprises in Taiwan. In addition, the number of persons employed by SMEs rose to 8,759,000—the highest level in recent years—and represented 78.22 per cent of all employed persons in Taiwan (Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, 2016). Moreover, the issue of employee engagement has been thoroughly discussed among HR scholars because of its positive and significant impact on organisations and individuals. Employees today seek to work in companies where they can feel that they are contributing positively. Therefore, companies that understand the conditions that enhance employee engagement will have accomplished something their competitors will find very difficult to imitate. The mechanism behind the positive impact of employee engagement in organisations is quite clear: when employees are not passionate or enthusiastic about their job, it is impossible to perform as required which would, in the long run, lead to a decline in the company’s productivity. Bakker, Demerouti, and Brummelhuis (2012) reported that engaged employees experience positive emotions, including happiness and enthusiasm; they also experience better health, create their own job and personal resources, and transfer their engagement to others. All these attributes of an adequately engaged employee guarantee an increase in the organisation’s productivity. The emergence of employee engagement involves two converging developments: the growing importance of human capital and psychological involvement of employees in business, and the increased scientific interest in positive psychological states.

Given this heterogeneity in the empirical findings, the research aim is to study the employee engagement strategies utilised in Taiwan’s SMEs from the employees’ perspective. In this regard, a few studies have encouraged the notion of enhancing employee engagement in Taiwan’s SMEs. This research will be an eye opener as to whether or not employee engagement strategies have been established by Taiwanese SMEs and what they really entail. The researcher chose to study employee engagement in Taiwan’s SMEs due to the fact that SMEs are a significant part of Taiwan’s economy, as most large organisations begin as small businesses. Therefore, engaging employees in Taiwan’s SMEs is an important topic, because having engaged employees means that they will work towards achieving their company’s goals by investing their time and energy to ensure that their respective tasks are completed successfully.

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