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Employee Engagement Critical Essay

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Updated: Jun 12th, 2019


Employee engagement is an evolving concept in the human resource development field and is related to management and organisational psychology. The causes of huge interest to employee engagement include its direct impact on job performance and big potential in enhancing great results.

The topic of work engagement is worth investigation, as it has a great potential in contributing to developing strategies able to ensure the proper functioning of any company (Nolan 2011). This report focuses on investigating the coverage of the topic in literature sources and analysing the approach of McDonalds Company to enhancing employee engagement.

McDonalds is recognized as one of the most successful competitors in the fast-food market. The success of the company is largely based on its effective strategy of promoting the work engagement of people working at it.

The company’s strategy is aimed at promoting employee pride in the business and improving brand perception (HR Excellence Awards 2011 2011). McDonalds is known as one of the leaders in organising a wide range of education programs for the employees to enhance work engagement (Jackson, Ones & Dilchert 2012).

A careful analysis of relevant literature about employee engagement will be provided to develop a set of characteristics that should be assessed to analyse the employee engagement enhancement strategy of the chosen company.

Literature Review

Though the concept of employee engagement is not clearly defined, there is a big amount of academic literature exploring the issue. The ambiguity of the meaning of the term results in the variety of sources investigating it as referring to different aspects, including traits and behaviours.

Numerous articles and books study the nature of employee engagement, the factors that influence it, and the methods for promoting it. The literature exploring employee engagement can be divided into three groups: works investigating the meaning of employee engagement, works investigating the importance and impact of employee engagement, and works discovering the characteristics crucial to promoting employee engagement.

The works studying the meaning of employee engagement contain numerous debates. The word “engagement” presents the initial source of debate, as it is used to define a psychological state, performance construct, disposition or a combination of the terms mentioned above (Carbonara 2012). Such abundance of definitions causes confusions while determining the nature of employee engagement.

However, lack of precision can be regarded as a natural characteristic of any concept at the early stages of its development. As employee engagement is a new concept in human resource management literature, various authors give different explanations to what the term means and which factors influence it.

The analysis of the central concepts helps to understand that the main debate on the meaning of employee engagement is based on different approaches to defining it as the sum of factors related to the employee’s behaviour and influencing the performance or a sum of impressions related to job satisfaction received by the employee at work (Byrne 2015; Exter 2013; Gruman & Saks 2011).

The most common definition of the term unites these two concepts and characterises employee engagement as the overall job impressions of the employee and his/her commitment to the job (Bhuvanaiah & Raya 2014). These factors directly influence the employee’s willingness to provide a high quality of work and improve job performance.

Various literature sources give explicit explanations on how employee management affects organizations. Though several debates related to the area of company activities most affected by employee engagement exist, most authors agree that it plays a crucial role in improving organisational performance (Gruman & Saks 2011; Mone & London 2014). Engaged employees put more efforts in providing effective performance and strive for the success of the company (Truss et al. 2013).

Bhuvanaiah and Raya (2014) claim that most studies also support the significance of the role of employee engagement in providing positive financial outcomes for the company. Kumar and Pansari (2015) support this statement and emphasise that high level of work engagement is directly associated with profitability growth.

The impact of employee engagement on financial revenues of the organization is supported by numerous literature sources (Byrne 2015; Exter 2013). Kiron (2014) points to another direction of impact of employee engagement – customer engagement. Engaged employees are more likely to contribute to effective relations with customers and benefit customer-driven services (Kiron 2014).

As employee engagement is regarded as influencing the performance and financial revenues of organizations, many literature sources explore the variety of characteristics crucial to increasing it.

Efficacious leadership and management, strong motivation and job satisfaction, and job resources outweighing job demands are the cornerstones of employee engagement largely investigated in the academic literature. The following paragraphs present the analysis of the literature exploring these characteristics influencing employee engagement.

Though many specialists viewed control models as the basis providing appropriate involvement in the past, most of the modern authors agree that interpersonal leadership is one of the keys to promoting employee engagement (Medlin & Green 2014).

Therefore, successful leading instead of controlling is considered one of the biggest contributors to raising the number of engaged employees. “The interpersonal aspect” of relations between leaders and other members of the team should be positive (Hansen, Byrne & Kiersch 2014, p. 34).

Effective management is another characteristic essential for employee engagement. It includes careful selection of the managers, providing appropriate educational activities for them, ensuring the managers’ willingness to care for the employees’ needs, encouraging employees to participate in problem-solving processes, etc. (Byrne 2015; ‘How to increase employee engagement’ 2014).

Besides presenting information about the role of successful leadership in employee engagement, the majority of academic sources put a stress on the importance of ensuring the high level of motivation for the employees.

Such factors as recognition, rewards, meaningfulness of the work, and healthy work environment are recognised as one of the cornerstones of creating motivation for the workers (Morrell 2011; Vitt 2014). Job satisfaction plays a crucial role in motivating the employees, as positive emotions during working hours boost their willingness to be devoted to the company (Hazelton 2014).

Numerous books and articles explore the importance of providing job resources outweighing job demands based on Job Demands–Resources (JD-R) model as one of the newest approaches to promoting employee engagement. According to this model, the work environment is divided into two parts.

The first part includes job demands, which can be defined as the features of the job that require special effort that can present a psychological or physiological cost (Gruman & Saks 2011).

The second part includes job resources, which can be defined as those aspects that benefit the worker and initiate a motivational process (Gruman & Saks 2011). Many academic articles emphasize that employee engagement can be boosted if job resources, including financial resources and moral satisfaction, are higher than the job demands (Byrne 2015; Carbonara 2012).

The analysis of relevant literature sources investigating the phenomenon of employee engagement demonstrates a lack of precision in giving a definition of the term. However, an abundance of sources exploring characteristics vital for enhancing employee engagement can be found.

Such characteristics, as efficacious leadership and management, strong motivation and job satisfaction, and job resources outweighing job demands were identified as appropriate for assessing the effectiveness of employee engagement enhancement strategy of the chosen company.

Reference List

Bhuvanaiah, T & Raya, R 2014, ‘Employee engagement: Key to organizational success’, SCMS Journal of Indian Management, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 61-71.

Byrne, Z 2015, Understanding employee engagement: Theory, research, and practice, Routledge, New York.

Carbonara, S 2012, Manager’s guide to employee engagement, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Exter, N 2013, Employee engagement with sustainable business, Routledge, New York.

Gruman, J & Saks, A 2011, ‘Performance management and employee engagement’, Human Resource Management Review, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 123-136.

Hansen, A, Byrne, Z & Kiersch, C 2014, ‘How interpersonal leadership relates to employee engagement’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 29, no.8, pp. 953-972.

Hazelton, S 2014, ‘Positive emotions boost employee engagement: Making work fun brings individual and organizational success’, Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 34-37.

‘How to increase employee engagement’ 2014, Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 28, no. 6 pp. 24-26.

HR Excellence Awards 2011 – Outstanding Employee Engagement Strategy: McDonald’s 2011, <>.

Jackson, S, Ones, D & Dilchert, S 2012, Managing human resources for environmental sustainability, John Wiley & Sons, San Francisco.

Kiron, D 2014, ‘Tying customer engagement to employee engagement’, MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 1-5.

Kumar, V & Pansari, A 2015, ‘Measuring the benefits of employee engagement’, MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 67-72.

Medlin, B & Green, K 2014, ‘Impact of management basics on employee engagement’, Academy of Strategic Management Journal, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 21-35.

Mone, E & London, L 2014, Employee engagement through effective performance management, Routledge, New York.

Morrell, F 2011, Ninety steps to employee engagement & staff motivation, Forest Gate Publishing, London.

Nolan, S 2011, ‘Employee engagement’, Strategic HR Review, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 3-4.

Truss, C, Delbridge, R, Alfes, K, Shantz, A & Soane, E 2014, Employee engagement in theory and practice, Routledge, New York.

Vitt, L 2014, ‘Rising employee engagement through workplace financial education’, New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, vol. 141, pp. 67-77.

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