Job Performance and Employee Engagement - the Validity of Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (Uwes-9)

By Martin, Paul | Journal of Social and Psychological Sciences, July 2017 | Go to article overview

Job Performance and Employee Engagement - the Validity of Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (Uwes-9)


Martin, Paul, Journal of Social and Psychological Sciences


INTRODUCTION

Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction has become paradigmatic for much research, theory and practice. This topic has become very prominent much due to the fact that it has a direct impact upon employee motivation and productivity. It follows that the advent of positive psychology has the attention from occupational and organisational psychology to shift from negative aspects such as worker's burnout, stress and bad performance to more positive aspects such as their potential and optimal functioning. In addition, advent of positive psychology has also increased research on factors such as job satisfaction, motivation, and work engagement (Seligman, 2002). One should note that whilst burnt out individuals feel considerably more exhausted and demotivated, their counterparts feel more enthusiastic, motivated, and vigorous about their job (Seligman, 2003).

It is also interesting to notice that in contrast to humanistic psychology which was predominantly unempirical, positive psychology is largely based on an empirical epistemology. Thus, one must notice that the advent of positive psychology has brought with it the introduction of work engagement as a concept, given that the number of positive concepts within the empirical literature relating to occupational well-being was considerably scarce (Schaufeli & Salanova, 2007). It follows that in recent literature work engagement has become a particularly prominent construct among practitioners and scientists, and this has also led to the creation and development of a new body of research. More specifically, this body of empirical literature has consistently converged around the conceptualisation of work engagement as being characterised by increasingly high levels of personal investment in work and job related tasks (Rich, LePine, & Crawford, 2010).

It is thought that previous work engagement research has been marked by much confusion concerning its definition given the increasingly inconsistent operationalisations found within relevant literature (Macey & Schneider, 2008). For instance, it is not particularly clear if engagement empirically and conceptually different other constructs relating to workers' underlying job motivation, or as a reliable predictor of behaviour in the workplace (Wee, & Thomas, 2008; Macey & Schneider, 2008). It is also worth mentioning that despite the fact that much is known about engagement as a motivational variable (Schaufeli et al., 2002; Rich et al., 2010), one is yet to gain useful insights into the uniqueness of engagement as a predictor of employees' performance in the workplace. It follows, that a considerable amount of research and literature has devoted its attention to the construct "engagement", and in this way developed suitable operational definitions. However, such definitions were not always consistent, and therefore raised many issues concerning construct validity and reliability (Rich et al., 2010). For instance, Khan (1990) put forward the notion of personal engagement which seem to represent employees' inner states and the way in which they invest personal energy and in this way experience emotional connection with their job. From this vantage point it would appear that work roles are essentially opportunities for workers to commit themselves expressively, energetically, as well as behaviourally (Rich et al., 2010). It is also interesting to notice that when it comes to arranging an operational definition for engagement some argued that work engagement should refer to a psychological connection with performance of tasks in the work place as opposed to measuring attitudes towards the organisations features of the job role itself (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). For instance, previous measures such as the Gallup Workplace Audit (GWA [Harter, Schmidt & Hayes, 2002]) did not necessarily conform to the aforementioned conceptualisation given that it directly refers to conditions in the workplace as opposed to the job itself (Harter et al. …

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