The present research project is devoted to the investigation of employee engagement and its implications for organizational performance. The paper starts with the identification of research aims, objectives, and methods and continues with a short review of high-quality articles and reports. The evaluated evidence reveals that in order to increase job and organizational engagement, company leaders must strive to promote job satisfaction among staff members and motivate them through various means. The key findings substantiated the formulation of a few practical recommendations to improve work engagement focusing on employee empowerment, reward systems, career growth opportunities, and enhancement of workplace culture. The expected impacts of those recommendations on employee performance at distinct organizational levels are outlined in the conclusion.
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Employee engagement is a strategic approach to organizational improvement endeavors and the stimulation of desired organizational change. The given strategy aims to achieve and maintain the highest level of employee motivation and workers’ devotion to the well-being of their company (Agrawal 2015). It is considered that engaged employees show positive organizational behaviors and directly contribute to favorable organizational outcomes including increased productivity and profitability (Osborne and Hammoud 2017). Leadership and job design are traditionally considered the most important factors defining the motivation of personnel. However, to engage employees in work, the design of the workplace environment and reinforcement practices should be substantiated by an in-depth understanding of underlying psychological mechanisms and drivers of motivation.
The given research project is intended to provide practical recommendations aimed to increase employee engagement and consequently promote positive organizational behaviors and productivity in personnel.
By costing millions of dollars to organizations annually, disengaged employees pose a significant managerial problem. The given research project attempts to address this essential matter by providing such deliverables as evidence-based practice recommendations. The research will be based on the information retrieved from 11 scholarly sources. The project will be deemed successful in case both predictors and outcomes of employee engagement are identified. Consequently, the data can be implemented within one or a few particular organizational environments in a single case study or comparative control study.
An expected project outcome is the demonstration of how various employee engagement practices can contribute to positive organizational performance and results. To attain this, the following objectives should be achieved: 1) collection and analysis of scholarly and professional evidence, 2) determination of final recommendations based on literature review findings, and 3) outlining of possible impacts on the organization due to the implementation of the proposed recommendations.
The given project does not produce new empirical evidence, which could contribute to the field of knowledge. Additionally, the relatively small sample size is employed. A more comprehensive and systematic literature review could increase the credibility of findings and minimize the risk of result biasing.
The inductive process and a narrative synthesis of evidence will be employed to analyze the patterns in the collected data. As a result, conclusions regarding different employee engagement practices and organizational outcomes will be made. Consequently, the practical recommendations will be formulated by using the deductive method. They will be derived directly from the evaluated evidence and reviewed theories. After the completion of the literature review, it will be possible to implement the generated findings in a case study research, using a sample of one organization. The given research design methodology can help evaluate organizational processes and experiences and, in this way, help deepen the understanding of different contexts defining employee engagement.
Secondary data is associated with major methodological benefits such as cost and time efficiency. Moreover, it can largely contribute to the research project by helping generate new insights regarding the matter of interest. In this project, 11 high-quality, peer-reviewed, and professional sources will be located via credible online databases such as Science Direct, Emerald Insight, Google Scholar, ProQuest, and so on. Secondary data will be derived from recent publications, both quantitative and qualitative. The sources focused on the investigation of employee engagement, as well as job satisfaction, employee motivation, and positive organizational behavior will be considered eligible for inclusion. Sources published before 2013 will be excluded from the literature review.
Quantitative data will be retrieved from “Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace.” It is a comprehensive study of employee engagement indicators conducted across 17 countries including the UAE. The total sample assessed by Steelcase (2018) comprised over 12,400 respondents. The sampling technique and sample size largely define the high credibility of the study findings. The report provides statistical information (percentages) on such aspects of employee engagement as workers’ level of control over workflows and processes, use of mobile technologies, workplace flexibility, and so on. In this way, these data substantially support the fulfillment of the purpose of the given research project.
Non-numerical information will be retrieved from some studies selected for the review. For instance, Osborne and Hammoud (2017) used personal interviews with experienced managers implementing employee engagement strategies to identify the prerequisites of employee motivation and commitment. For future research on employee engagement strategies, questionnaires aimed to collect employee and managers’ perceptions of different aspects of job satisfaction and motivation can be developed. During the design of the questionnaire form, the researcher will follow the major guidelines including transparency of intent, consistency of questions with the study objectives, the inclusion of sufficient answer options, and the use of information from previous research to substantiate interpretation of participants’ responses.
In their study, Osborne and Hammoud (2017) regard self-determination theory (SDT) as a foundation for employee engagement strategies. “Disengagement and personal engagement are related to the SDT in that an employee’s behavioral state is a key driver of motivation to demonstrating behavior at the professional and personal levels” (Osborne and Hammoud 2017, p. 52). From the given theoretical perspective, motivation is directly related to job satisfaction and personal emotional state: “when employees begin to withdraw and hide their identities, ideas, and feelings, they become disengaged and defensive, resulting in an adverse effect on work performance” (Osborne and Hammoud 2017, p. 52). For this reason, to engage employees in work, organizational leaders must address their motivation and attitudes.
Such work-related attitudes as job satisfaction are reactions to different elements of the organizational environment: relationships with colleagues, attributes of leader-member exchange, work flexibility, shared corporate values, etc. (Agrawal 2015; Baum & Kagan 2015). Karanika-Murray et al. (2015) state that a stronger and positive bond with a company is associated with increased employee engagement and organizational commitment. Additionally, greater job satisfaction may be a result of perceiving job duties and professional roles as meaningful and worthwhile (Hassan 2014). For this reason, two major components of employee engagement can be distinguished: job engagement and organization engagement. According to Agrawal (2015), the former occurs when a person enjoys his/her work processes and the latter − when he/she develops meaningful relationships with the company.
Distinct components of job satisfaction, an essential part of employee engagement, operate at different levels. For instance, Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory suggests that employees’ behaviors are driven by intrinsic factors (motivators), such as achievement and recognition, and extrinsic factors (workplace hygiene), such as rewards and job security (Damij et al. 2015). It is considered that hygienic needs, defined by physical and psycho-social conditions at the workplace, can only minimize dissatisfaction but unable to motivate employees directly, yet they can mediate performance by supporting job satisfaction (Damij et al. 2015). Conversely, motivational factors including achievement, recognition, work itself, professional growth, etc. are more important compared to the hygienic/external ones because they are sources of internal satisfaction, which leads to greater job commitment (Rahman et al. 2017; Hansen et al., 2016). Nevertheless, Kian et al. (2014) note that satisfaction with both internal and external factors may result in stronger and prolonged engagement in work.
Recent statistics reveal that only 13% of employees around the globe are highly engaged and satisfied (Steelcase 2018). The Engagement and the Global Workplace report also shows that the major prerequisites of employee engagement are work autonomy and flexibility, the level of technological advancement at the workplace, the overall work style (e.g., collaborative, individual, nomadic, etc.), as well as micro- and macro-cultural contexts (Steelcase 2018). The findings of the global survey are consistent with recent research findings on organizational behavior and employee engagement, which reveal that when the workplace is associated with numerous psychological hazards, such as job insecurity and work overload, employees are exposed to excess stress and tend to develop adverse psychological conditions and mindsets leading to dissatisfaction and poor performance (Hall et al. 2013).
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Although the evidence provided in the reviewed sources is valid, most of them have one major limitation. The main gap identified in the studies is the inability to show how different factors of job satisfaction define employees’ behaviors and relationships with the workplace in different circumstances. For example, supporters of motivation-hygiene theory consider remuneration a less important factor in terms of employee engagement, yet many people see economic factors as essential to job satisfaction because they induce the feeling of sea security, a sense of personal reward, and opportunities for advancement (Stelzner and Schutte 2016). It means that the perception of workplace values can largely differ from one community and population group to another. For instance, Osborne and Hammoud (2017) state that while Millennials usually do not want to make personal sacrificareersr career and tend to value monetary compensation, Baby Boomers are more oriented towards processes within companies. Based on this, it is possible to say that the understanding of employees’ values and preferences is essential in the design of an appropriate engagement strategy. The assessment of demographic characteristics and personal values of workers can thus support the development of knowledge about the turnover trends in organizations.
Recommendations and Implementation Plan
The findings of the literature review revealed that in order to foster the positive organizational behavior and engagement, the management should strive to promote higher job satisfaction through the implementation of an effective motivation system that takes into account various needs and behavioral mechanisms. It is important to consider that workers become more engaged when their personal goals are aligned with the organizational objectives. In this way, the first recommendation will relate to an increase in employees’ functional and decision-making autonomy. By empowering employees, managers will be able to sustain the intrinsic motivation of subordinates. To achieve this, organizational restructuring and new workplace design, as well as the purchase of new mobile technologies, etc., may be required. Thus, this method may be associated with significant time and financial investments.
Secondly, the reward and reinforcement system should meet the basic needs of employees and must be designed in a way that allows consideration of individual contributions and expertise. When a person feels underpaid, he/she can decrease productivity to minimize costs. Conversely, a fair and adequate reward and benefits system can promote the sense of workplace security and, in this way, increase employees’ desire to work. The major pitfall of the method is that it may be insufficient to develop long-term employee-organization relationships with all staff members, especially those who seek meaning in their work.
Thirdly, for many people, continuous engagement in professional development and awareness of existing professional growth opportunities can result in greater job satisfaction and longer employment. Thus, employees must be provided with on-the-job training. Along with this, internal recruitment practices should be performed in the company. The given method produces advantages for both the organization and individuals as it helps reduce costs associated with external recruitment and provides an opportunity for employee’s self-realization and self-improvement. The disadvantage is that internal recruitment does not allow increasing workforce diversity. Moreover, if selection methods lack transparency, it may be a source of interpersonal conflicts within the company.
Lastly, it is essential to create a positive work environment in which employees would have good relationships with each other, and would feel respected. Ethical standards and policies including fair recruitment and transparent performance appraisal practices must be implemented within the organization. It will help reduce perceived inequity among workers. New values and standards can be communicated via the organizational knowledge management system (e.g., meetings, emails, etc.). Overall, the given recommendation can be regarded as the most comprehensive and basic approach among all the mentioned above.
Conclusion: Expected Impacts
According to Osborne and Hammoud (2017), “the rising level of disengaged employees can have a significant impact on an organization’s profit, ability to retain skilled employees, and employee citizenship” (p. 60). Conversely, the formulated strategic recommendations can have multiple favorable impacts on organizations. From the financial perspective, although many of the outlined methods can require initial investments (e.g., increase in wages), in the long run, they can contribute to an increase in revenues through productivity growth. The initiatives may also have a significant impact on employees. Baum and Kagan (2015) state that “satisfied workers perform better, have lower absenteeism and display higher motivation” (p. 213). Thus, it is possible to say that more empowered staff members, who feel valued and paid consistently with their efforts and are provided with a chance for professional and personal realization, will perceive the workplace as secure and, therefore, will be committed to the organization. Positive effects on employees will directly affect organizational processes, accelerating the realization of multiple projects, improving communication, and ensuring compliance with organizational goals. Additionally, in customer-oriented enterprises, greater employee engagement supported through adherence to the provided recommendations can contribute to the improvement of services, enhancing customer experiences, and developing their loyalty.
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