Definitions Of Employee Engagement Management Essay

This chapter will entail taking a detailed review of literatures by various authors and academicians that centres on numerous definitions and impact of employee engagement on organisations, its benefits, drivers of engagement and human resource practices for engagement.


The concept of employee engagement has attracted considerable attention in recent years in the human resource management field. This has been one reason academic researchers are now in the bid, thereby resulting to competition and conflict with regards to the meaning of the term “employee engagement.”

Employee engagement is relatively a new term and has numerous aspects in terms of its definition in academic literatures. Traditionally, the concept of what motivates and engage employees could be found in financial reward. Contemporarily “Generation Y” workers between 1970s and 1990s constitute the workforce, more focused and are of the notion that engagement goes beyond reward and benefit (Globle, 1970).

Research opined that engagement spans through the theory of exchange, which signifies that employees engage with organisations that show commitment to them and provide anticipated results. Employee engagement spans up if the job is good if it fits the employees, if the given anticipations employees are met with regards to the given job, if there is organisational fairness and if there is maximum organisational assistance for employees. Eisenberger et al (1986).

“Engagement is about enabling access for employees to connect with the entire organisation, this cut across both employees and managers. It is also about enabling an environment where workers get motivated in other to feel connected with their work knowing full well that they care about the work they do. This has to do with job flexibility as well as continuous change. Katie Truss et al (2009).

Macey & Schneider (2008) defined employee engagement in two folds as having attitudinal and behavioural components. Employee Engagement is defined as “a condition which is desired, has a purpose for the organisation and denotes attachment, dedication, zeal, eagerness, purposeful effort, and vigour” (p.4).

Macey and Schneider (2008) also states that “the sources of confusion in definitions of engagement are due to the fact that some defined engagements attitudinally and some behaviourally.” They offer a series of propositions about (a) psychological state engagement (feelings of energy, absorption, satisfaction, involvement, commitment, and empowerment); (b) behavioural engagement (extra role behaviour, organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB), proactive/personal initiative, role expansion and adaptive); and (c) trait engagement (positive views of life and work; proactive personality, auto telic personality, trait positive effect, conscientiousness).

Psychological state engagement is vital to the engagement subject. This state is where individuals exhibit interest, affection and zeal (p.6). Trait Engagement characterise preference or course to experience the globe from a specific view point and that this trait engagement gets reflected in “psychological state engagement,”. Psychological state engagement is a successor of behavioural engagement (p.5).

Behavioural engagement, “characterise a direct visible behaviour in the job perspective” (p.14). It also has a direct affect on state engagement and an indirect affect as a border line clause between trait and state engagement.”

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The nature of leadership has an indirect affect on behavioural engagement through the creation of trust (p.6), how a person relates to the environment. Person and Environment fit, is also examined in Macey & Schneider’s (2008) model. Person and environment fit is an important connection between trait and state and as well as between state and behavioural engagement. Thus they quoted Bono and Judge’s 2003 study that indicated “Engagement with their work suggests that employees who see their work as consistent with their personal values will be more engaged” (p.23).

However, Burke (2008) believes that Macey and Schneider’s (2008) approach ignores the prominent role of knowledge and skill as antecedents to behaviour at work, and fails to consider the importance of adaptive behaviour. Studies show that engagement and satisfaction are similar both in structure and appearance. In terms of its measurement and assessment, engagement equally referred to satisfaction (2005).

Kim and Mauborgne (2005), view engagement in a different perspective from attitude and behaviour, according to them, engagement is a “reasonable procedure” being explained and with a clear prospect. Given their research, employees are concerned not only about the fairness of the procedure but also the result.

Their position is that reasonable procedures affects people’s attitudes and behaviours. Given their model, Engagement is part of the reasonable procedures characterised by reliance and dedication (attitude) which enables employee willingness (behaviour).

They defined engagement as “engaging employees in the organizational decisions that affect their well being by soliciting their input and enabling them recognise the merits of fellow colleagues input” (p. 175). In their view, engagement characterise organisational importance for employees significant inputs.

While Dvir et al (2002) defined active engagement behaviourally as an “elevated stage of action, scheme, and duty” (p.737), Wellins and Concelman (2005) defined engagement behaviourally as “zeal, dedication, additional attempt the enabling power that inspires employees to performance more effectively”(p.1). They characterised engagement into different fundamentals: purposeful effort (with plan, enablement), personal worth (assistance and appreciation), and team work (group unity).

Employee engagement is the number one health indicator among the three best of a company’s health indicators- customer satisfaction, cash flow and employee engagement (Jack and Suzy Welch, 2006). In another perspective, Colbert et al (2004) defined engagement attitudinally as a “high internal motivation state” (p.603).

The concept of employee engagement refers to a state where employees find meaning in their work and devote discretionary effort and time to work. Research suggests that workers who are engaged tend to be less stressed, more satisfied with their personal lives, use less health care, take fewer sick days, are more productive, and stay longer with their company than their less engaged counterparts (Gallup Organization, 2003; Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002).

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Employee engagement is one of the major determinants of the success and development of not only the individual but also the overall organisation. It provides a competitive advantage for organisations. Employee engagement however, is a management responsibility and if well managed reduces excess cost, underperformance and customer dissatisfaction. According to Albert and Hayes (2006), the “consent of the governed” is enshrined in the theory of democracy and is a major factor in self synchronisation and in Edge organisations.”

In accordance with the chartered institute of personnel and development (CIPD, 2010), “employee engagement goes beyond job satisfaction and it is not just motivation but rather it is a combination of employee dedication to its organisation, its ethics and a willingness to assist fellow employees… it’s not required as part of an employment contract.”


While the numerous definitions of employee engagement as enumerated above gives one understanding of the concept of “engagement”, its benefits to the individual and organisation cannot be over emphasised. According to Gubman, (1998; 2003), Engagement makes possible the ability of employees to perform better, want to remain with their employing organisations, and possibly portray their organisation in a better position. An engaged employee is mindful of the organisations structure to facilitate a better understanding with associate colleagues which in turn derive benefits to the overall organisation. The organisation on the other hand ought to cultivate a habit of sustainability in other to enable the engagement process and make it work.

The issue of employee engagement is unquestionable, precisely and clearly expressed, leaving nothing to implication. There are no doubts to its benefits to individual and organisational productivity as it denotes how an employee expresses his or her self in the work place with regards to its given role of job tasks. Jones and Harter (2005). Therefore, engagement cannot work with only the interest of one party of the employment relationship, it must encompass both parties of the employment relationship- the employer and the employee. It is a two way relationship which also permits employee voice.

It is also important to focus specifically on employees themselves in creating a healthy workplace. This not only informs the organization of what employees need but creates an environment in which employees feel valued, have input, have some measure of job control and have the opportunity to improve their own health. See below some of these benefits.


Flexibility is one job characteristic that has been found to be important to workers of all ages and career stages, but some studies suggest that it may be particularly preferable for older workers (Merrill et al 2005, Moen et al 2000). Flexibility has been generally accepted as important in contemporary work environment, which have been positively related to a multiplicity of individual, folks, and business results (Hill, Grzywacz et al 2008).

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Flexible work practices have long been viewed by employees as valuable workplace tools to facilitate work life management. while employees are of the notion that workplace flexibility influences decisions to join an organisation, satisfaction with their jobs, and plans to stay with their employers, employers have also come to recognize that workplace flexibility positively influences valued business outcomes such as attracting, motivating, and retaining key talent in competitive labour markets, increasing employee satisfaction and engagement, as well as improving efficiency and effectiveness. However, several studies have examined the role of organisational characteristics and work experiences as antecedents of engagement and retention (Burud and Tumolo 2004, Gibbons 2006, Meyer et al 2002).

In a nationally representative study of employees from mid- to large-size companies, perceived flexibility and ability to manage the demands of work and personal life were strongly related to higher levels of employee engagement and expected retention (Richman, 2006). These findings are corroborated in two national studies in which higher possibility to flexible work pattern is associated with better mental health and resilience, greater productivity and effectiveness, higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement, and lower turnover intention (Galinsky et al 2004, WFD Consulting 2007).

Internal organizational studies have also established that employees who have even a minimal degree of flexibility have considerably better job contentment, high degree of engagement with the organisation, and lower levels of stress (Corporate Voices for Working Families & WFD Consulting, 2005). In their summary of more than 550 pieces of research Burud and Tumolo (2004) concluded that flexible work practices reduce stress, absenteeism, and turnover, and increase employee satisfaction, commitment, and productivity.

According to the National Study of Business Strategy and Workforce Development, 55 per cent of employees specified that their organisations exhibit a relationship between workplace flexibility and workplace efficiency to a fair and maximum degree (Pitt- et al 2007). This study also found that 26 per cent of employers stated that it was exceedingly correct that the organisations they work for clearly communicate the importance that flexible working and managing has for business success.

In the works of Bond et al (2002) “fifty percent of employees with more opportunity to flexible work schedule on the job accounts higher life fulfilment, reduced health related problems, reduced interference of job and family life, and lesser degree of negative spill over from job to home”

Further, in the works of the National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW), 73 per cent of employees with high accessibility of flexible work patterns reported that there was a high likelihood that they would remain with their present employer for the preceding year, and 39 per cent of employees with a high accessibility of flexible work patterns reported high degree of faithfulness and enthusiasm to work harder than required to assist their employers become successful (Bond et al 2002, p. 34).

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