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From theory to practice: understanding and improving employee engagement

A woman sitting with a laptop, employee engagement, Mindletic blog.

Employee engagement is a hot topic in the world of human resources, and for good reason. Engaged employees are more productive, more committed to their organizations, and more likely to put in extra effort to ensure their organization’s success. In this article, we will explore the various definitions and theories of employee engagement and how they can be used to create a more engaged workforce.

The definition of employee engagement

Employee engagement is defined as the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace. Gallup defines employee engagement as the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and are willing to put in extra effort to ensure their organization’s success.

Schaufeli and colleagues (2002) introduce the concept of engagement at work, describing it as a positive, fulfilling, and absorbing mindset related to work, marked by dedication and enthusiasm.

These definitions highlight the importance of employees being fully invested in their work and the workplace, and how this investment can lead to positive outcomes for both the employee and the organization.

According to Kwon & Kim (2020), the JD-R model presents dynamic interactions between diverse job demands and job/personal resources that influence employee engagement, as well as employee well-being and job performance. According to this model, job resources, such as physical, psychological, social, or organizational job-related attributes that positively influence an employee’s work achievement, physical and psychological well-being, and learning and growth, play an important role in helping employees to remain engaged. In contrast, job demands, such as job-related characteristics that require significant physical and psychological investment, can be detrimental to employee engagement if they are overwhelming.

The Role of Job Resources

Studies on factors that lead to employee engagement have identified various job resources that can predict engagement. For instance, Crawford et al. (2010) found that certain job resources, such as autonomy, feedback, development opportunities, positive workplace atmosphere, rewards and recognition, support, job diversity, and a good fit with the role, were positively related to employee engagement in a meta-analysis of job resources and job demands. Additionally, the study also found that three types of job demands, including job responsibility, time pressure, and workload, had a positive relationship with engagement.

The Role of Personal Resources

Individual attributes, like self-confidence, positivity, hope, and the ability to bounce back, can also be vital in maintaining employee engagement by helping to prevent burnout. These personal resources act as a form of psychological strength that can aid workers in managing job demands and staying involved in their job.

The Role of Job Demands

Though job demands are usually considered to have a negative impact on employee engagement, they can also serve as a driving force if they are within a reasonable limit. On the other hand, excessive demands can negatively affect work results and can cause burnout. Common examples of job demands include excessive workload, uncertainty about job security, unclear expectations, tight deadlines, and conflicting responsibilities.

How does employee engagement benefit employees themselves and their organizations?

Employee engagement is a hot topic in the field of management, and for good reason. Saks (2022) in his review revealed studies that have consistently shown that engaged employees are more likely to have positive attitudes, behaviors, and performance outcomes, as well as better well-being. Additionally, organizations with higher levels of employee engagement tend to see better financial and customer metrics of performance. In fact, some experts argue that employee engagement can give organizations a competitive edge in the marketplace. So, what can organizations do to promote employee engagement?

So, what can organizations do to promote employee engagement?

Research has identified several key factors:

Job design. Providing employees with interesting, challenging, and meaningful work is positively related to employee engagement. Allowing employees some control and autonomy in how they perform their job is especially effective in signaling to employees that the organization cares about them.

Training and development. Opportunities for learning and growth are positively related to employee engagement. By investing in its employees through training and development, an organization sends the message that it values the contributions and growth of its employees.

Flexible work arrangements. Giving employees the ability to make choices about when, where, and how they work fulfills their need for autonomy (Bal & DeLange, 2015). Organizations that offer flexibility in terms of when and where work can be completed signal to employees that they care about their needs and preferences.

Work-life balance programs. Programs and policies that help employees balance their work and personal lives, such as on-site childcare, parental leave, and longer vacation time, are positively related to employee attitudes, behaviors, and well-being, and negatively related to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

By focusing on these areas, organizations can create an environment in which employees are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work, which ultimately benefits both the employees and the organization as a whole.

Want to learn more about how to foster your employees’ productivity and help them overcome procrastination? Reach out to our team and get a free consultation now.