Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 23
  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: October 2009

18 - Enhancing work engagement through the management of human resources


This chapter introduces a recently emerged psychological concept – work engagement – and seeks to apply this notion to the management of human resources in organizations. Our point of departure is that in order to prosper and survive in today's continuously changing environment, rather than merely “healthy” employees, organizations need engaged employees. What we exactly mean by work engagement and how this term is used throughout the literature is explained next. Because we strongly feel that recommendations for using HRM strategies to increase levels of employee engagement should be based on sound empirical research, we present an overview thereof. More specifically, we focus on the relationship of work engagement with related concepts and on the antecedents and consequences of work engagement. The assessment of work engagement is addressed in a separate section. In addition, we discuss how employees’ work engagement may be optimized by using HRM strategies. The chapter closes with some conclusions about work engagement research and about the usefulness of work engagement in the context of HRM. Our aim is to demonstrate the viability of the concept of work engagement for human resources practices in organizations.

The need for engaged workers in modern organizations

Table 18.1 illustrates what kinds of changes force today's organizations to rely more and more on the psychological knowledge and experience of their employees.

Essentially, the changes summarized in Table 18.1 boil down to a “psychologization” of organizations.

Aguilar, A. and Salanova, M. (2005). Leadership style and its relationship with subordinate well-being (manuscript submitted for publication).
Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2005). The cross-over of burnout and work engagement among working couples. Human Relations 58: 661–89.
Bakker, A. B., Schaufeli, W. B., Bulters, A. J., Rooijen, A., and Ten Broek, E. (2002). Carrière-counseling voor artsen via internet [Career counseling for physicians using the internet]. Medisch Contact 57: 454–6.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. New York: Freeman.
Bandura, A.(2001). Social cognitive theory: an agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology 52: 1–26.
Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.
Beckers, D. G. J., Linden, D., Smulders, P. G. W., Kompier, M. A. J., Veldhoven, M. J. P. M., and Yperen, N. W. (2004). Working overtime hours: relations with fatigue, work motivation, and the quality of work. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 46: 1282–9.
Bresó, E., Salanova, M., and Schaufeli, W. (2007). In search of the “third dimension” of burnout: a cross-national study among university students. Applied Psychology: An International Review 56: 460–78.
Costa, P. T. Jr and McCrae, R. R. (1980). Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38: 668–78.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper and Row.
Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Janssen, P. P. M., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). Burnout and engagement at work as a function of demands and control. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health 27: 279–86.
Vries, T. A., Peters, L., and Hoogstraten, J. (2004). Burnout en bevlogenheid bij fysiotherapeuten [Burnout and work engagement among physiotherapists]. Gedrag & Gezondheid 32: 241–50.
Durán, A., Extremera, N., and Rey, L. (2004). Engagement and burnout: analyzing their association patterns. Psychological Reports 94: 1048–50.
Frederickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist 56: 218–26.
González-Romá, V., Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A., and Lloret, S. (2006). Burnout and engagement: independent factors or opposite poles?Journal of Vocational Behavior 68: 165–74.
Hackman, J. R. and Oldham, G. R. (1980). Work redesign. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.
Hakanen, J. J., Bakker, A. B., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2006). Burnout and work engagement among teachers. Journal of School Psychology 43: 495–513.
Hallberg, U. and Schaufeli, W. B. (2006). “Same same” but different: can work engagement be discriminated from job involvement and organizational commitment?European Psychologist 11: 119–27.
Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., and Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology 87: 268–79.
Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., and Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotional contagion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hobfoll, S. E. and Shirom, A. (2000). Conservation of resources theory: applications to stress and management in the workplace. In Golembiewski, R. T. (ed.), Handbook of organizational behavior (2nd edn, pp. 57–81). New York: Marcel Dekker.
Howell, J. M. and Hall-Merenda, K. E. (1999). The ties that bind: the impact of leader–member exchange, transformational and transactional leadership, and distance on predicting follower performance. Journal of Applied Psychology 84: 680–94.
Judge, T. A. and Piccolo, R. F. (2004). Transformational and transactional leadership: a meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Journal of Applied Psychology 89: 755–86.
Langelaan, S., Bakker, A. B., Doornen, L. J. P., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2006). Burnout and work engagement: do individual differences make a difference?Personality and Individual Differences 40: 521–32.
Llorens, S., Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A., and Salanova, M. (2007). Does a positive gain spiral of resources, efficacy beliefs and engagement exist?Computers in Human Behavior 23: 825–41.
Llorens, S., Salanova, M., Bakker, A., and Schaufeli, W. B. (in press). Burnout and engagement among information technology workers: a cross-cultural study. Anxiety, Stress & Coping.
Locke, E. A. (1968). Towards a theory of task performance and incentives. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 3: 157–89.
Maslach, C., Jackson, S. E., and Leiter, M. P. (1996). Maslach Burnout Inventory: manual (3rd revised edn). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., and Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology 52: 397–422.
May, D. R., Gilson, R. L., and Harter, L. M. (2004). The psychological conditions of meaningfulness, safety and availability and the engagement of the human spirit at work. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 77: 11–37.
Montgomery, A., Peeters, M. C. W., Schaufeli, W. B., and Ouden, M. (2003). Work–home interference among newspaper managers: its relationship with burnout and engagement. Anxiety, Stress & Coping 16: 195–211.
Peterson, C., Park, N., and Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: the full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies 6: 25–41.
Salanova, M., Agut, S., and Peiró, J. M. (2005a). Linking organizational resources and work engagement to employee performance and customer loyalty: the mediating role of service climate. Journal of Applied Psychology 90: 1217–27.
Salanova, M., Bresó, E., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2005b). Hacia un modelo espiral de la autoeficacia en el estudio del burnout y engagement [Towards a spiral model of self-efficacy in burnout and engagement research]. Ansiedad y Estrés 11: 215–31.
Salanova, M., Grau, R., Cifre, E., and Llorens, S. (2000). Computer training, frequency of use and burnout: the moderating role of computer self-efficacy. Computers in Human Behavior 16: 575–90.
Salanova, M., Grau, R., Llorens, S., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). Exposición a las tecnologías de la información, burnout y engagement: el rol modulador de la autoeficacia profesional [Exposure to information and communication technology, burnout and engagement: the moderating role of professional self-efficacy]. Revista de Psicología Social Aplicada 11: 69–89.
Salanova, M., Llorens, S., Cifre, E., Martinez, I., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2003). Perceived collective efficacy, subjective well-being and task performance among electronic work groups: an experimental study. Small Groups Research 34: 43–73.
Salanova, M. and Schaufeli, W. (in press). Work engagement as a mediator between job resources and proactive behaviour: a cross-national study. International Journal of Human Resources Management.
Salanova, M., Schaufeli, W. B., Llorens, S., Peiró, J. M., and Grau, R. (2000). Desde el “burnout” al “engagement”: una nueva perspectiva [From burnout to engagement: a new perspective]. Revista de Psicología del Trabajo y de las Organizaciones 16: 117–34.
Schabracq, M. J. (2003). Organisational culture, stress and change. In Schabracq, M. J., Winnubst, J. A. M. and Cooper, C. L. (eds.), Handbook of work and health psychology (pp. 37–62). Chichester: Wiley.
Schabracq, M. J. and Cooper, C. L. (2000). The changing nature of work and stress. Journal of Management Psychology 15: 227–41.
Schaufeli, W. B. (2005). The future of occupational health psychology. Applied Psychology: An International Review 53: 502–17.
Schaufeli, W. B. and Bakker, A. B. (2001). Werk en welbevinden: naar een positieve benadering in de arbeids- en gezondheidspsychologie [Work and well-being: towards a positive approach in occupational health psychology]. Gedrag & Organisatie 14: 229–53.
Schaufeli, W. B. and Bakker, A. B. (2003). UWES – Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: test manual. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Psychology, Utrecht University (
Schaufeli, W. B. and Bakker, A. B.(2004a). Bevlogenheid: een begrip gemeten [Work engagement: the measurement of a concept]. Gedrag & Organisatie 17: 89–112.
Schaufeli, W. B. and Bakker, A. B.(2004b). Job demands, job resources and their relationship with burnout and engagement: a multi-sample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior 25: 293–315.
Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., and Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire: a cross-national study. Educational and Psychological Measurement 66: 701–16.
Schaufeli, W. B., Martínez, I., Marques Pinto, A., Salanova, M., and Bakker, A. B. (2002a). Burnout and engagement in university students: a cross national study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 33: 464–81.
Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., and Bakker, A. B. (2002b). The measurement of engagement and burnout: a confirmative analytic approach. Journal of Happiness Studies 3: 71–92.
Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T. W., Blanc, P., Peeters, M., Bakker, A., and Jonge, J. (2001). Maakt arbeid gezond? Op zoek naar de bevlogen werknemer [Does work make happy? In search of the engaged worker]. De Psycholoog 36: 422–8.
Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T. W., and Rhenen, W. (in press). Workaholism, burnout and engagement: three of a kind or three different kinds of employee well-being?Applied Psychology: An International Review.
Shimazu, A., Schaufeli, W. B., Kosugi, S., Suzuki, A., Nashiwa, H., Kato, A., Sakamoto, M., Irimajiri, H., Amano, S., Hirohata, K., Goto, R., and Kitaoka-Higashiguchi, K. (2006). Work engagement in Japan: development and validation of the Japanese version of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (manuscript submitted for publication).
Shirom, A. (2003). Feeling vigorous at work? The construct of vigor and the study of positive affect in organizations. In Ganster, D. and Perrewé, P. L. (eds.), Research in organizational stress and well-being (vol. 3, pp. 135–65). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Sonnentag, S. (2003). Recovery, work engagement, and proactive behavior: a new look at the interface between non-work and work. Journal of Applied Psychology 88: 518–28.
Storm, K. and Rothmann, I. (2003). A psychometric analysis of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale in the South African police service. South African Journal of Industrial Psychology 29: 62–70.
Ulrich, D. (1997). Human resource champions. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Klink, J., Blonk, R., Schene, A., and Dijk, F. (2001). The benefits of interventions for work-related stress. American Journal of Public Health 91: 270–6.
Verhoff, J., Douvan, E., and Kulka, R. A. (1981). The inner American. New York: Basic Books.
Wright, T. A. (2003). Positive organizational behavior: an idea whose time has truly come. Journal of Organizational Behavior 24: 437–42.
Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A. B., Kantas, A., and Demerouti, E. (in press). The measurement of burnout and work engagement: a comparison of Greece and the Netherlands. New Review of Social Psychology.