1.1 Concept of employee engagement
1.1.1 Defining Engagement
One of the challenges of defining engagement is the lack of a universal definition of employee engagement, as a research focus on employees’ work engagement is relatively new.
More often than not, definitions of engagement include cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components. The cognitive aspect of engagement includes employees’ beliefs about the organization, management and working conditions. The emotional components (or beliefs) defines employees positive attitude, how they "feel" about their employer, company’s values, leaders and working conditions (Kahn, 1990; Towers Perrin, 2003; Robinson et al. 2004). The behavioral components measure the willingness to act in certain ways, skills which employees offer (Towers Perrin, 2003) and willingness to go the "extra mile” — some of these components are often used for the employee engagement definition.
Academic literature presents a couple of definitions of engagement. One of the first and most recognizable definitions of engagement is provided by Kahn (1990) and it suggests that personal engagement is: “the harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performance (p.694)”. His view concentrates on the personal engagement of workers in order to emphasize performance improvement through employing and expressing themselves on physical, cognitive and emotional levels during their performance. In the case of disengagement employees withdraw from role performance and try to defend themselves physically, cognitively or emotionally (Kahn, 1990). In summary, following Kahn (1990), engagement means the employees’ psychological presence at work.
Burnout researchers suggest that engagement is the opposite, a positive antitheses of burnout (Maslach et al. 2001). Maslach et al. (2001) state that “engagement is characterized by energy, involvement, and efficacy (p.416)”, the direct opposite of the three burnout dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and ineffectiveness.
Schaufeli et al. (2002), present work engagement as contrastive concept to burnout, they define work engagement “as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption (p. 74)”. They also state that engagement is not a momentary and specific state, but it is “a more persistent and pervasive affective-cognitive state that is not focused on any particular object, event, individual, or behavior” (Schaufeli et al., 2002, p. 74).
In his research Harter et al. (2002) referred to employee engagement as “the individuals’ involvement and satisfaction with as well as enthusiasm for work” (p. 269).
Three well-known organizations in the human resource area also offer definitions on the term. Perrin’s Global Workforce Study (Towers Perrin, 2003) definition defines engagement “as employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success”, by putting “discretionary effort into their work, in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy (p.1)”. Gallup organization defines employee engagement as the involvement with and enthusiasm for work. Gallup as cited by Dernovsek (2008) likens employee engagement to a positive employees’ emotional attachment and employees’ commitment. Institute of employment studies (Robinson et al. 2004) defines employee engagement as “a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organization and its value. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organization. The organization must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee” (p.9).
After the process of synthesizing definitions and conceptual frameworks of employee engagement, Shuck and Wollard...
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