Mutual gains? Is there a role for employee engagement in the modern workplace?

| Publication date: 1 Aug 2017 | Theme: Employment & Social policy | NIESR Author(s): Bryson, A | JEL Classification: J24, J28, L22, L23, M12, M54 | NIESR Discussion Paper Number: 477

I examine the history of employee engagement and how it has been characterised by thinkers in sociology, psychology, management and economics.  I suggest that, while employers may choose to invest in employee engagement, there are alternative management strategies that may be profit-maximising. I identify four elements of employee engagement – job ‘flow’, autonomous working, involvement in decision-making at workplace or firm level, and financial participation – and present empirical evidence on their incidence and employee perceptions of engagement, drawing primarily from evidence in Britain.  I consider the evidence regarding the existence of mutual gains and present new evidence on the issue.  I find a non-linear relationship between human resource management (HRM) intensity and various employee job attitudes.  I also find the intensity of HRM use and employee engagement are independently associated with improvements in workplace performance. I consider the implications of the findings for policy and employment practice in the future.

Keyword tags: 
employee engagement
productivity
performance
human resource management
worker wellbeing
Publication type: 

Research programmes