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Employee Engagement: Theory and Practice Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 11th, 2020

Definition of Employee Engagement

Despite its growing popularity, the concept of employee engagement does not have a single definition. Kahn describes it as a multifaceted phenomenon in which members of the organization attach themselves to their working roles (Dik 109). Frank et al. define it as an amount of effort exhibited by the employees as a result of the commitment to the organizational culture (14). As can be seen from these definitions, there is a common theme of psychological attachment to the working process necessary at some stage in the organization. This concept is summarized in the broad definition by Truss et al. who define employee engagement simply as a passion for work (206).

Principal Dimensions

Similarly to the variety of definitions, the principal components of employee engagement are different both in number and in content depending on the authors. Truss et al. describe it as comprised of the physical, emotional, and cognitive aspects (119). The emotional dimension constitutes the feelings of the employees regarding their co-workers, management, responsibilities, and environment. It was cited as the dimension responsible for the perception of safety, security, satisfaction with values, and the ultimate sense of contribution to the greater cause (Truss et al. 119). The cognitive aspect forms a set of conscious beliefs, such as the understanding of working conditions.

Unlike the emotional counterpart, the cognitive dimension is conceived on the basis of tangible evidence rather subtle psychological effects. For instance, the transparent relation between the performance and the received salary contributes mainly to cognitive engagement, while positive workplace culture benefits the emotional aspect. It should be noted, however, that the exact effect is more complex and interconnected. As a result of the combined effect of the organizational factors, employees demonstrate greater eagerness in achieving the set goals, which defines the physical aspect of engagement. Therefore, the interlocked effects of emotional and cognitive dimensions manifest in the physical energy devoted by the engaged employees in the organization.

Employee engagement is often used in conjunction, and sometimes interchangeably, with similar terms, such as organizational commitment, job involvement, and job satisfaction. While some of these concepts are closely related to the definition and characteristics of employee engagement, they also have a number of important differences. For instance, it is evident that job satisfaction by definition aligns well with the effects of the emotional and cognitive dimensions of the definition above. At the same time, it does not include (although certainly leads to) its physical aspect (Truxillo et al. 346). Therefore, we can say that job satisfaction is a necessary component of employee engagement. Similarly, job involvement, which is commonly understood as the readiness of the employee to engage in the working process, requires (but does not include) the prerequisite of emotional and cognitive engagement, and does not necessarily cover the broader participation in the workplace culture (Menguc et al. 2164).

One of the manifestations of job involvement, termed flow, is often cited as a desired psychological state which greatly enhances both the performance and the satisfaction of employees (Truss et al. 42). Therefore, it is one of many specific outcomes resulting from successful employee engagement. Finally, organizational commitment describes a broad range of attitudes, feelings, and knowledge which define the perception of organization the employees are bound to (Jones 123). This definition is the closest to the understanding of employee engagement and can have semantic differences depending on the source of definition. For example, the former can omit the factor of the added value and usefulness of the performed task, making the latter a more encompassing concept.


The knowledge and skill gained during this assignment can be used to systematize the knowledge during further inquiries. The domain of employee engagement is still in development and does not have a common core, which can add to ambiguity and present challenges for the researcher. The analysis above will help me implement the theoretical concepts into practice more effectively and efficiently.

Works Cited

Dik, Bryan, et al. Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace. American Psychological Association, 2013.

Frank, Fredric, et al. “The Race for Talent: Retaining and Engaging Workers in the 21st Century.” People and Strategy 27.3 (2004): 12-26.

Jones, Natalie. “Handbook of Employee Engagement: Perspectives, Issues, Research and Practice.” Human Resource Development International 14.5 (2011): 643-645.

Menguc, Bulent, et al. “To Be Engaged or Not to Be Engaged: The Antecedents and Consequences of Service Employee Engagement.” Journal of Business Research 66.11 (2013): 2163-2170.

Truss, Catherine, et al. Employee Engagement in Theory and Practice. Routledge, 2013.

Truxillo, Donald, et al. “A Lifespan Perspective on Job Design: Fitting the Job and the Worker to Promote Job Satisfaction, Engagement, and Performance.” Organizational Psychology Review 2.4 (2012): 340-360.

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