Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

The Meaning of Employee Engagement

  • William H. Macey (a1) and Benjamin Schneider (a2)

Abstract

The meaning of employee engagement is ambiguous among both academic researchers and among practitioners who use it in conversations with clients. We show that the term is used at different times to refer to psychological states, traits, and behaviors as well as their antecedents and outcomes. Drawing on diverse relevant literatures, we offer a series of propositions about (a) psychological state engagement; (b) behavioral engagement; and (c) trait engagement. In addition, we offer propositions regarding the effects of job attributes and leadership as main effects on state and behavioral engagement and as moderators of the relationships among the 3 facets of engagement. We conclude with thoughts about the measurement of the 3 facets of engagement and potential antecedents, especially measurement via employee surveys.

Copyright

Corresponding author

E-mail: wmacey@valtera.com, Address: Valtera Corporation, 1701 Golf Road, Suite 2-1100 Rolling Meadows, IL 60008

References

Hide All
Bass, B. M. (1999). Two decades of research and development in transformational leadership. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8, 932.
Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. (1990). Transformational leadership development: Manual for the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.
Bateman, T. S., & Crant, J. M. (1993). The proactive component of organizational behavior: A measure and correlates. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14, 103118.
Bernthal, P. (2004). Measuring employee engagement. Retrieved May 4, 2005, from www.ddiworld.com/pdf/ddi_MeasuringEmployeeEngagement_wp.pdf
Bono, J. E., & Judge, T. A. (2003). Self-concordance at work: Toward understanding the motivational effects of transformational leaders. Academy of Management Journal, 46, 554571.
Borman, W. C. (2004). The concept of organizational citizenship. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 238241.
Brayfield, A. H., & Rothe, H. F. (1951). An index of job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 35, 307311.
Brief, A. P., & Weiss, H. M. (2002). Organizational behavior: Affect in the workplace. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 279307.
Brown, S. P. (1996). A meta-analysis and review of organizational research on job involvement. Psychological Bulletin, 120, 235255.
Brown, S. P., & Leigh, T. W. (1996). A new look at psychological climate and its relationship to job involvement, effort, and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 358368.
Buckingham, M., & Coffman, C. (1999). First, break all the rules. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Burke, . (2005). Employee engagement. Retrieved May 4, 2005, from www.burke.com/EOS/prac_EmployeeEngagement.htm
Campbell, J. P. (1990). Modeling the performance prediction problem in industrial and organizational psychology. In Dunnette, M. D. & Hough, L. M. (Eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 687732). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Campbell, J. P., & Pritchard, R. D. (1976). Motivation theory in industrial and organizational psychology. In Dunnette, M. D. (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 63130). Chicago: Rand-McNally.
Colbert, A. E., Mount, M. K., Harter, J. K., Witt, L., & Barrick, M. R. (2004). Interactive effects of personality and perceptions of the work situation on workplace deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 599609.
Conte, J. M., Dean, M. A., Ringenbach, K. L., Moran, S. K., & Landy, F. J. (2005). The relationship between work attitudes and job analysis ratings: Do rating scale type and task discretion matter? Human Performance, 18, 121.
Cooper-Hakim, A., & Viswesvaran, C. (2005). The construct of work commitment: Testing an integrative framework. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 241259.
Corporate Executive Board. (2004). Driving performance and retention through employee engagement. Retrieved September 13, 2005, from www.corporateleadershipcouncil.com/Images/CLC/PDF/CLC12KADBP.pdf
Coyle-Shapiro, J. A. M., & Conway, N. (2005). Exchange relationships: Examining psychological contracts and perceived organizational support. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 774781.
Coyle-Shapiro, J. A. M., Kessler, I., & Purcell, J. (2004). Exploring organizationally directed citizenship behavior: Reciprocity or “It’s my job?” Journal of Management Studies, 41, 85106.
Crant, J. M. (1995). The proactive personality scale and objective job performance among real estate agents. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80, 532537.
Crant, J. M. (2000). Proactive behavior in organizations. Journal of Management, 26, 435462.
Dvir, T., Eden, D., Avolio, B. J., & Shamir, B. (2002). Impact of transformational leadership on follower development and performance: A field experiment. Academy of Management Journal, 45, 735744.
Erickson, T. J. (2005). Testimony submitted before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, May 26.
Fleming, J. H., Coffman, C., & Harter, J. K. (2005). Manage your human sigma. Harvard Business Review, 83, 106115.
Frese, M., & Fay, D. (2001). Personal initiative (PI): An active performance concept for work in the 21st century. In Staw, B. M. & Sutton, R. M. (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 23, pp. 133187). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.
Frese, M., Kring, W., Soose, A., & Zempel, J. (1996). Personal initiative at work: Differences between East and West Germany. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 3763.
Gagne, M., & Deci, E. L. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 331362.
George, J. M. (1991). State or trait: Effects of positive mood on prosocial behaviors at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 299307.
Gonzalez-Roma, V., Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Lloret, S. (2006). Burnout and work engagement: Independent factors or opposite poles? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 165174.
Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. (1980). Work redesign. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Hall, D. T., & Schneider, B. (1973). Correlates of organizational identification as a function of career pattern and organizational type. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17, 340350.
Harter, J. K., & Schmidt, F. L. (2006). Connecting employee satisfaction to business unit performance. In Kraut, A. I. (Ed.), Getting action from organizational surveys (pp. 3352). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 268279.
Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Keyes, C. L. (2003). Well-being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes: A review of the Gallup studies. In Keyes, C. L. & Haidt, J. (Eds.), Flourishing: The positive person and the good life (pp. 205224). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Hewitt Associates LLC. (2005). Employee engagement. Retrieved April 29, 2005, from http://was4.hewitt.com/hewitt/services/talent/subtalent/ee_engagement.htm
Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Huelsman, T. J., Furr, R. M., & Nemanick, R. C. (2003). Measurement of dispositional affect: Construct validity and convergence with a circumplex model of affect. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 63, 655673.
Hui, C., Lee, C., & Rousseau, D. M. (2004). Psychological contract and organizational citizenship behavior in China: Investigating generalizability and instrumentality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 311321.
Ilgen, D. R., & Pulakos, E. D. (1999). Employee performance in today’s organizations. In Ilgen, D. R. & Pulakos, E. D. (Eds.), The changing nature of work performance: Implications for staffing, motivation, and development (pp. 120). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 692724.
Kahn, W. A. (1992). To be fully there: Psychological presence at work. Human Relations, 45, 321349.
Kanfer, R. (1990). Motivation theory and industrial/organizational psychology. In Dunnette, M. D. & Hough, L. M. (Eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 75170). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Kanungo, R. N. (1982). Measurement of job and work involvement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 341349.
Kelley, T. L. (1927). Interpretation of educational measurements. New York: World Book.
Kraut, A. I. (Ed.). (2006). Getting action from organizational surveys. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Larsen, R. J., & Diener, E. (1992). Problems and promises with the circumplex model of emotion. Review of Personality and Social Psychology, 13, 2559.
Larsen, R. J., Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (2002). Emotion models, measures, and individual differences. In Lord, R. G., Klimoski, R. J., & Kanfer, R. (Eds.), Emotions in the workplace (pp. 64106). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Law, K. S., Wong, C. S., & Mobley, W. H. (1998). Toward a taxonomy of multidimensional constructs. Academy of Management Review, 23, 741755.
LePine, J. A., Erez, A., & Johnson, D. E. (2002). The nature and dimensionality of organizational citizenship behavior: A critical review and meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 5265.
LePine, J. A., & Van Dyne, L. (2001). Voice and cooperative behavior as contrasting forms of contextual performance: Evidence of differential relationships with Big Five personality characteristics and cognitive ability. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 326336.
Lobel, S. A. (1991). Allocation of investment in work and family roles: Alternative theories and implications for research. Academy of Management Review, 16, 507521.
Locke, E. A. (1976). The nature and causes of job satisfaction. In Dunnette, M. D. (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 12971349). Chicago: Rand-McNally.
Lodahl, T. M., & Kejner, M. (1965). The definition and measurement of job involvement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 49, 2433.
Lubinski, D. (2004). Introduction to the special section on cognitive abilities: 100 years after Spearman’s (1904) “‘general intelligence,’ objectively determined and measured.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 96111.
Macey, W. H., & Schneider, B. (2006). Employee experiences and customer satisfaction: Toward a framework for survey design with a focus on service climate. In Kraut, A. I. (Ed.), Getting action from organizational surveys (pp. 5375). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397422.
Mathieu, J. E., Gilson, L. L., & Ruddy, T. M. (2006). Empowerment and team effectiveness: An empirical test of an integrated model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 97108.
Mathieu, J. E., & Zajac, D. M. (1990). A review and meta-analysis of the antecedents, correlates and consequences of organizational commitment. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 171194.
May, D. R., Gilson, R. L., & 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, 1137.
McGregor, D. M. (1960). The human side of enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Meyer, J. P., & Allen, N. J. (1997). Commitment in the workplace: Theory, research and application. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Meyer, J. P., Becker, T. E., & Vandenberghe, C. (2004). Employee commitment and motivation: A conceptual analysis and integrative model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 9911007.
Miller, H. E., & Rosse, J. G. (2002). Emotional reserve and adaptation to job dissatisfaction. In Brett, J. M. & Drasgow, F. (Eds.), The psychology of work: Theoretically based empirical research (pp. 205231). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Moorman, R. H., & Byrne, Z. S. (2005). How does organizational justice affect organizational citizenship behavior? In Greenberg, J. & Colquitt, J. A. (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 355380). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Morgeson, F. P., Delaney-Klinger, K., & Hemingway, M. A. (2005). The importance of job autonomy, cognitive ability, and job-related skill for predicting role breadth and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 399406.
Morrison, E. W., & Phelps, C. C. (1999). Taking charge at work: Extra-role efforts to initiate workplace change. Academy of Management Journal, 42, 403419.
Motowidlo, S. J. (2000). Some basic issues related to contextual performance and organizational citizenship behavior in human resource management. Human Resource Management Review, 10, 115126.
Mowday, R. T., Porter, L. W., & Steers, R. M. (1982). Employee-organization linkages: The psychology of commitment, absenteeism, and turnover. New York: Academic Press.
Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). The concept of flow. In Snyder, C. R. & Lopez, S. J. (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 89105). New York: Oxford University Press.
O’Reilly, C. A., & Chatman, J. A. (1986). Organizational commitment and psychological attachment: The effects of compliance, identification, and internalization of prosocial behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71, 492499.
Organ, D. W. (1997). Organizational citizenship behavior: It’s construct cleanup time. Human Performance, 10, 8597.
Organ, D. W., Podsakoff, P. M., & MacKenzie, S. B. (2006). Organizational citizenship behavior: Its nature, antecedents, and consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Organ, D. W., & Ryan, K. (1995). A meta-analytic review of attitudinal and dispositional predictors of organizational citizenship behavior. Personnel Psychology, 48, 775802.
Parker, S. K. (1998). Enhancing role breadth self-efficacy: The roles of job enrichment and other organizational interventions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 835852.
Parker, S. K. (2003). Longitudinal effects of lean production on employee outcomes and the mediating role of work characteristics. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 620634.
Parks, J. M., & Kidder, K. L. (1994). “Till death do us part…”: Changing work relationships in the 1990s. In Cooper, C. L. & Rousseau, D. M. (Eds.), Trends in organizational behavior (Vol. 1, pp. 111136). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Pulakos, E. D., Arad, S., Donovan, M. A., & Plamondon, K. E. (2000). Adaptability in the workplace: Development of a taxonomy of adaptive performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 612624.
Rhoades, L., & Eisenberger, R. (2002). Perceived organizational support: A review of the literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 698714.
Roberts, B. W., Chernyshenko, O. S., Stark, S., & Goldberg, L. R. (2005). The structure of conscientiousness: An empirical investigation based on seven major personality questionnaires. Personnel Psychology, 58, 103139.
Rothbard, N. P. (2001). Enriching or depleting? The dynamics of engagement in work and family roles. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46, 655684.
Rothbard, N. P., & Edwards, J. R. (2003). Investment in work and family roles: A test of identity and utilitarian motives. Personnel Psychology, 56, 699730.
Russell, J. A., & Carroll, J. M. (1999). On the bipolarity of positive and negative affect. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 330.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 6878.
Salanova, M., Agut, S., & Peiro, J. M. (2005). Linking organizational resources and work engagement to employee performance and customer loyalty: The mediation of service climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 12171227.
Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A., & Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire: A cross-national study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 66, 701716.
Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., Gonzalez-Roma, V., & Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout: A two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3, 7192.
Schiemann, W. A., & Morgan, B. S. (2006). Strategic surveys: Linking people to business strategy. In Kraut, A. I. (Ed.), Getting action from organizational surveys (pp. 76101). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Schneider, B. (1987). The people make the place. Personnel Psychology, 40, 437453.
Schneider, B., Goldstein, H. A., & Smith, D. B. (1995). The ASA framework: An update. Personnel Psychology, 48, 747773.
Schneider, B., White, S. S., & Paul, M. C. (1998). Linking service climate and customer perceptions of service quality: Test of a causal model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 150163.
Seibert, S. E., Kramer, M. L., & Crant, J. M. (2001). What do proactive people do? A longitudinal model linking proactive personality and career success. Personnel Psychology, 54, 845874.
Shamir, B., House, R. J., & Arthur, M. B. (1993). The motivational effects of charismatic leadership: A self-concept based theory. Organization Science, 4, 577594.
Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 482497.
Shirom, A. (2003). Feeling vigorous at work? The construct of vigor and the study of positive affect in organizations. In Ganster, D. & Perrewe, P. L. (Eds.), Research in organizational stress and well-being (Vol. 3, pp. 135165). Greenwich, CN: JAI Press.
Sonnentag, S. (2003). Recovery, work engagement, and proactive behavior: A new look at the interface between nonwork and work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 518528.
Spreitzer, G. M. (1995). Psychological empowerment in the workplace: Dimensions, measurement, and validation. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 14421465.
Staw, B. M. (2004). The dispositional approach to job attitudes: An empirical and conceptual review. In Schneider, B. & Smith, D. B. (Eds.), Personality and organizations (pp. 163192). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Thoresen, C. J., Kaplan, S. A., Barsky, A. P., Warren, C. R., & De Chermont, K. (2003). The affective underpinnings of job perceptions and attitudes: A meta-analytic review and integration. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 914945.
Towers-Perrin. (2003). Working today: Understanding what drives employee engagement. Stamford, CT: Author.
Van Dyne, L., & Ellis, J. B. (2004). Job creep: A reactance theory perspective on organizational citizenship behavior as over-fulfillment of obligations. In Coyle-Shapiro, J. A. M., Shore, L. M., Taylor, M. S., & Tetrick, L. E. (Eds.), The employment relationship: Examining psychological and contextual perspectives (pp. 181205). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Van Dyne, L., Graham, J. W., & Dienesch, R. M. (1994). Organizational citizenship behavior: Construct redefinition, measurement, and validation. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 765802.
Van Scotter, J. R., & Motowidlo, S. J. (1996). Interpersonal facilitation and job dedication as separate facets of contextual performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 525531.
Vey, M. A., & Campbell, J. P. (2004). In-role or extra-role organizational citizenship behavior: Which are we measuring? Human Performance, 17, 199135.
Warr, P. (1999). Well-being and the workplace. In Kahneman, D., Diener, E., & Schwarz, N. (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 392412). New York: Russell-Sage.
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 10631070.
Watson, D., & Tellegen, A. (1999). Issues in the dimensional structure of affect—Effects of descriptors, measurement error, and response formats: Comment on Russell and Carroll (1999). Psychological Bulletin, 125, 601610.
Weiss, H. M. (2002). Deconstructing job satisfaction: Separating evaluations, beliefs and affective experiences. Human Resource Management Review, 12, 173194.
Weiss, H. M., & Kurek, K. E. (2003). Dispositional influences on affective experiences at work. In Barrick, M. R. & Ryan, A. M. (Eds.), Personality at work (pp. 121149). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Wellins, R., & Concelman, J. (2005a). Creating a culture for engagement. Workforce Performance Solutions (www.wpsmag.com). Retrieved July 19, 2005, from www.ddiworld.com/pdf/wps_engagement_ar.pdf
Wellins, R., & Concelman, J. (2005b). Personal engagement: Driving growth at the see-level. Retrieved April 29, 2005, from www.ddiworld.com/pdf/ddi_personalengagement_ar.pdf
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • ISSN: 1754-9426
  • EISSN: 1754-9434
  • URL: /core/journals/industrial-and-organizational-psychology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed