Being Underemployed is the True Test of Who You Really are - The Nexus of Underemployment and Employee Engagement: Evidence from Sri Lanka


  • N. Jasintha Department of HRM, University of Jaffna



The current study intends to explore the nexus of underemployment and employee engagement among development officers in Sri Lanka. This study integrates the person-job fit theory with underemployment and employee engagement research. Employment possibilities exist for graduates in specific fields, but for a sizable number of graduates, finding a job has become the biggest challenge. As a result, improving graduate employability without having underemployment is a problem for the Sri Lankan university system. Expecting higher outcomes from underemployed employees has become pervasive by nature in Sri Lanka. Though previous studies paid attention to engagement level, little attention was paid to underemployment as an antecedent of employee engagement among the development officers, with the effect of age and gender as moderators. In addition to that, this study sheds new light on the underemployment level of development officers in Sri Lanka. A survey research strategy was used and data were collected from conveniently chosen 549 development officers working in the public sector. The Smart PLS 3.0 was utilised to analyse the data with a Multi group Analysis test to determine the age and gender effect on the nexus between underemployment and engagement. The results revealed that the individuals with the perception of underemployment are more likely to have lower employee engagement. No significant effects of age and gender were found in the nexus between underemployment and employee engagement. The study advances the boundaries of Human Resource Management literature while also providing helpful practical applications to the community. Policymakers can make more policies towards graduates to give them more proper job opportunities. This study can be done in a longitudinal way in order to identify the actual level of engagement throughout the period of time for a better understanding of development officers.

Keywords: Underemployment, Employee Engagement, Development Officers, Age and Gender