Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Employee Engagement: Role of Self-Efficacy, Organizational Support & Supervisor Support

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Employee Engagement: Role of Self-Efficacy, Organizational Support & Supervisor Support

Article excerpt

Employee Engagement: a Snapshot

The importance of employee engagement in the current business scenario attains significance and it has been labelled as one of the "hottest topics in management" in recent times (Welbourne 2007), since engaged employees are fully "psychologically present", thus "giving it their all" (Brenthal 2004) to their tasks. Moreover with an incessantly deepening "engagement gap" reported amongst employees (Kowalski 2003), that is threatening to cripple organizational growth and productivity, it becomes imperative to advance research on the construct thus leading to a better appreciation and application of the same in the interest of the organization.

The academic work regarding the construct of engagement is limited to three distinct approaches, viz. the Role Theory Approach (Kahn 1990, May et al. 2004), the Burn Out Approach (Maslach & Leiter 1997, Schaufeli et al. 2002), and the Social Exchange Theory (SET) Approach (Saks 2006). The Role Theory Approach defines personal engagement as "the harnessing of organization members" selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances (Kahn 1990). Thus engagement is understood as "psychological presence" while occupying and performing an organizational role. The Burnout Approach, initiated by Maslach and Leiter (1997) argues that engagement is positive antithesis of burnout. According to this school, engagement is characterized by energy, involvement and efficacy which are direct opposite of three burnout dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. Schaufeli et al (2002) refute this approach by arguing that "it is not plausible to expect both the concepts to be perfectly negatively correlated with each other", thus calling for an independent assessment of the same. Therefore they define engagement as "a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigour, dedication, and absorption". Lastly, the SET Approach, put forth by Saks (2006), argues that displaying varying degrees of engagement is one way for individuals to repay their organization for the economic and socio-emotional resources they receive from it. Since it is more difficult for employees to vary their levels of job performance, given that performance is often evaluated and used as the basis for compensation and other administrative decisions, employees are more likely to exchange their engagement for resources and benefits provided by their organization.

The above theories, despite their appeal, do not explain the observed variability of engagement amongst employees on exposure to similar working conditions. Further there also exists a lack of explanation regarding the factor(s) that selectively propels employees of the same organization, to burnout or engagement.

Study Hypotheses

It is our contention that, exposed to similar organizational conditions and task characteristics, the variation in engagement levels among individuals is the result of individual differences amongst them. Numerous evidences dot the literature supporting our above stated premise. For example, Arvey et al. (1989) present evidence indicating that genetic predispositions may influence job satisfaction. Furthermore, longi-tudinal research has found that job satisfaction scores remain correlated over time, and that this can occur even when individuals change occupations or employers (e.g. Staw & Ross 1985). While it goes undisputed that work attitudes are influenced by work environment and do change over time, evidence also confirms that the rank order of individuals remains somewhat stable, the stability being argued to be associated with certain personality dispositions (George 1992). Since work attitudes involve affective reactions to one's workplace (Locke 1976), and engagement is believed to be intrin-sically motivated involvement owing to affective association with the role (Kahn 1990), the influence of dispositional traits on engagement gains heightened support. …

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