Essay on Employee Engagement Is A Real, Definable Concept

Essay on Employee Engagement Is A Real, Definable Concept

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While most people agree that employee engagement is a real, definable concept, there is a lack of uniformity on exactly how to define it. Yet, most definitions encompass two key facets: the degree to which employees fully occupy themselves in their work and apply discretionary effort, as well as the strength of their commitment to the employer and role. Stated another way, employee engagement is the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their organization and how hard they work and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.

Evidence that employee engagement drives improved business results continues to mount. The momentum started in the 1990s in no small part due to a seminal article in HBR entitled Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work. The article united, for the first time, two realities that leaders have known intuitively for years. First, engaged, loyal employees are more productive and deliver better customer service; and second, engaged, loyal customers drive business growth and profitability. At the risk of oversimplification, the concept of the Service-Profit chain can generally be described in the following way - engaged employees create loyal employees which drive satisfied customers which drive customer loyalty which drives profitability and growth.

While more and more companies are assimilating employee engagement into their business strategy, many still consider engagement a “soft” issue unworthy of leadership attention. This mentality comes at a price. Current research suggests that actively disengaged workers cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars due to poor staff retention, high absenteeism, and low productivity. Leading companies are attuned to the impact of eng...


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...nd work motivation. More recent research shows that specific job characteristics, like skill variety, task identity, task significance (which collectively contribute to a sense of work meaningfulness), autonomy and performance feedback are also critical components that promote motivation, personal responsibility and job satisfaction—in short, engagement.

The relationship between employee engagement, strong performance, and company growth is compelling to say the least. Changing employee attitudes by fine-tuning attributes of their work environment are no doubt helpful in building an engaged workforce, but they are insufficient. In order to create, preserve, and capitalize on an engaged workforce, additional actions around job design will be required. Without effective job design, it is unlikely that real employee behavior change will be sustained over the long term.

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