Employee engagement and satisfaction of self-determination needs : an exploratory study in the contract research sector
De Wet, Elizabeth Hester
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Orientation: The pharmaceutical industry is forced to contain costs by outsourcing drug testing to commercial contract research organisations (CROs), which ensure the performance of clinical trials by experienced employees who must competently and skillfully exercise due care and diligence. Talent in South Africa is scarce, expensive and hard to retain. Research purpose: To investigate the relationship between the satisfaction of self-determination needs and employee engagement in the South African contract research sector. In addition, relationships to perceived managerial support, emotional exhaustion and intention to leave were investigated. Motivation for the study: Organisations and researchers should be made aware that a lack of employee engagement has financially harmful implications for business throughout the world, with a loss of productivity, low retention rates and decreased profitability. Research design, approach and method: A quantitative, cross-sectional approach was employed. The convenience sample (n=260) included CRO-employed males and females of 18 years and older, with different levels of education and tenure. Confirmatory factor analysis and calculation of Cronbach’s alpha were used for validity and reliability testing. Data were summarised descriptively. Coefficients of correlation and Cohen’s d effect size were computed to assess relationships. Main findings: Employee engagement was found to have a strong positive relationship with the satisfaction of self-determination needs, a moderate positive relationship with perceived managerial support and moderate negatively related to both emotional exhaustion and intention to leave. Practical/managerial implications: The study highlights the relationship between needs satisfaction and employee engagement in the workplace; especially perceived managerial support should be considered in order to promote and sustain employee engagement. Contribution/value-add: The study provides increased knowledge toward efficiency and effectiveness of CRO services by exploring the elements through which employee engagement and satisfaction of self-determination needs impact on the attraction and retention of staff, particularly of male employees, in the contract research sector.