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Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Engagement

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Purpose – Employee engagement has become a hot topic in recent years among consulting firms and in the popular business press. However, employee engagement has rarely been studied in the academic literature and relatively little is known about its antecedents and consequences. The purpose of this study was to test a model of the antecedents and consequences of job and organization engagements based on social exchange theory. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was completed by 102 employees working in a variety of jobs and organizations. The average age was 34 and 60 percent were female. Participants had been in their current job for an average of four years, in their organization an average of five years, and had on average 12 years of work experience. The survey included measures of job and organization engagement as well as the antecedents and consequences of engagement. Findings – Results indicate that there is a meaningful difference between job and organization engagements and that perceived organizational support predicts both job and organization engagement; job characteristics predicts job engagement; and procedural justice predicts organization engagement. In addition, job and organization engagement mediated the relationships between the antecedents and job satisfaction, organizational commitment, intentions to quit, and organizational citizenship behavior. Originality/value – This is the first study to make a distinction between job and organization engagement and to measure a variety of antecedents and consequences of job and organization engagement. As a result, this study addresses concerns about that lack of academic research on employee engagement and speculation that it might just be the latest management fad.
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Antecedents and consequences of
employee engagement
Alan M. Saks
Joseph L. Rotman School of Management,
Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources,
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Abstract
Purpose Employee engagement has become a hot topic in recent years among consulting firms and
in the popular business press. However, employee engagement has rarely been studied in the academic
literature and relatively little is known about its antecedents and consequences. The purpose of this
study was to test a model of the antecedents and consequences of job and organization engagements
based on social exchange theory.
Design/methodology/approach A survey was completed by 102 employees working in a variety
of jobs and organizations. The average age was 34 and 60 percent were female. Participants had been
in their current job for an average of four years, in their organization an average of five years, and had
on average 12 years of work experience. The survey included measures of job and organization
engagement as well as the antecedents and consequences of engagement.
Findings Results indicate that there is a meaningful difference between job and organization
engagements and that perceived organizational support predicts both job and organization engagement;
job characteristics predicts job engagement; and procedural justice predicts organization engagement. In
addition, job and organization engagement mediated the relationships between the antecedents and job
satisfaction, organizational commitment, intentions to quit, and organizational citizenship behavior.
Originality/value This is the first study to make a distinction between job and organization
engagement and to measure a variety of antecedents and consequences of job and organization
engagement. As a result, this study addresses concerns about that lack of academic research on
employee engagement and speculation that it might just be the latest management fad.
Keywords Stress, Employees, Job satisfaction
Paper type Research paper
In recent years, there has been a great deal of interest in employee engagement. Many
have claimed that employee engagement predicts employee outcomes, organizational
success, and financial performance (e.g. total shareholder return) (Bates, 2004;
Baumruk, 2004; Harter et al., 2002; Richman, 2006). At the same time, it has been
reported that employee engagement is on the decline and there is a deepening
disengagement among employees today (Bates, 2004; Richman, 2006). It has even been
reported that the majority of workers today, roughly half of all Americans in the
workforce, are not fully engaged or they are disengaged leading to what has been
referred to as an “engagement gap” that is costing US businesses $300 billion a year in
lost productivity (Bates, 2004; Johnson, 2004; Kowalski, 2003).
Unfortunately, much of what has been written about employee engagement comes
from the practitioner literature and consulting firms. There is a surprising dearth of
research on employee engagement in the academic literature (Robinson et al., 2004).
The purpose of this study was to investigate the antecedents and consequences of two
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0268-3946.htm
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Received August 2005
Revised June 2006
Accepted June 2006
Journal of Managerial Psychology
Vol. 21 No. 7, 2006
pp. 600-619
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0268-3946
DOI 10.1108/02683940610690169
types of employee engagement: job and organization engagements. Previous research
has focused primarily on engagement in one’s job. However, there is evidence that
one’s degree of engagement depends on the role in question (Rothbard, 2001). Thus, it
is possible that the antecedents and consequences of engagement depend on the type of
engagement. In the next section, employee engagement is defined followed by a
discussion of employee engagement models and theory and the study hypotheses.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement has become a widely used and popular term (Robinson et al.,
2004). However, most of what has been written about employee engagement can be
found in practitioner journals where it has its basis in practice rather than theory and
empirical research. As noted by Robinson et al. (2004), there has been surprisingly little
academic and empirical research on a topic that has become so popular. As a result,
employee engagement has the appearance of being somewhat faddish or what some
might call, “old wine in a new bottle.”
To make matters worse, employee engagement has been defined in many different
ways and the definitions and measures often sound like other better known and
established constructs like organizational commitment and organizational citizenship
behavior (Robinson et al., 2004). Most oftenit has been defined as emotionaland intellectual
commitment to the organization (Baumruk, 2004; Richman, 2006; Shaw, 2005) or the
amount of discretionary effort exhibited by employees in their jobs (Frank et al., 2004).
In the academic literature, a number of definitions have been provided. Kahn (1990,
p. 694) 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.” Personal disengagement refers
to “the uncoupling of selves from work roles; in disengagement, people withdraw and
defend themselves physically, cognitively, or emotionally during role performances”
(p. 694). Thus, according to Kahn (1990, 1992), engagement means to be psychologically
present when occupying and performing an organizational role.
Rothbard (2001, p. 656) also defines engagement as psychological presence but goes
further to state that it involves two critical components: attention and absorption.
Attention refers to “cognitive availability and the amount of time one spends thinking
about a role” while absorption “means being engrossed in a role and refers to the
intensity of one’s focus on a role.”
Burnout researchers define engagement as the opposite or positive antithesis of
burnout (Maslach et al., 2001). According to Maslach et al. (2001), engagement is
characterized by energy, involvement, and efficacy, the direct opposite of the three burnout
dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. Research on burnout and engagement
has found that the core dimensions of burnout (exhaustion and cynicism) and engagement
(vigor and dedication) are opposites of each other (Gonzalez-Roma et al., 2006).
Schaufeli et al. (2002, p. 74) define engagement “as a positive, fulfilling, work-related
state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption.” They further
state that engagement is not a momentary and specific state, but rather, it is “a more
persistent and pervasive affective-cognitive state that is not focused on any particular
object, event, individual, or behavior” (p. 74).
In the academic literature, engagement is said to be related to but distinct from other
constructs in organizational behavior. For example, Robinson et al. (2004, p. 8) state that:
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engagement
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... engagement contains many of the elements of both commitment and OCB, but is by no
means a perfect match with either. In addition, neither commitment nor OCB reflect
sufficiently two aspects of engagement its two-way nature, and the extent to which
engaged employees are expected to have an element of business awareness.
Organizational commitment also differs from engagement in that it refers to a person’s
attitude and attachment towards their organization. Engagement is not an attitude; it is
the degree to which an individual is attentive and absorbed in the performance of their
roles. And while OCB involves voluntary and informal behaviors that can help
co-workers and the organization, the focus of engagement is one’s formal role
performance rather than extra-role and voluntary behavior.
Engagement also differs from job involvement. According to May et al. (2004), job
involvement is the result of a cognitive judgment about the need satisfying abilities of
the job and is tied to one’s self-image. Engagement has to do with how individuals
employ themselves in the performance of their job. Furthermore, engagement involves
the active use of emotions and behaviors in addition to cognitions. May et al. (2004,
p. 12) also suggest that “engagement may be thought of as an antecedent to job
involvement in that individuals who experience deep engagement in their roles should
come to identify with their jobs.”
In summary, although the definition and meaning of engagement in the practitioner
literature often overlaps with other constructs, in the academic literature it has been
defined as a distinct and unique construct that consists of cognitive, emotional, and
behavioral componentsthatare associated with individualrole performance. Furthermore,
engagement is distinguishable from several related constructs, most notably
organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior, and job involvement.
Employee engagement models and theory
Given the limited research on employee engagement, there has been little in the way of
model or theory development. However, there are two streams of research that provide
models of employee engagement. In his qualitative study on the psychological conditions
of personal engagement and disengagement at work, Kahn (1990) interviewed summer
camp counselors and organizational members of an architecture firm about their moments
of engagement and disengagement at work. Kahn (1990) found that there were three
psychological conditions associated with engagement or disengagement at work:
meaningfulness, safety, and availability. In other words, workers were more engaged at
work in situations that offered them more psychological meaningfulness and
psychological safety, and when they were more psychologically available.
In the only study to empirically test Kahn’s (1990) model, May et al. (2004) found that
meaningfulness, safety, and availability were significantly related to engagement.
They also found that job enrichment and role fit were positive predictors of
meaningfulness; rewarding co-worker and supportive supervisor relations were positive
predictors of safety while adherence to co-worker norms and self-consciousness were
negative predictors; and resources available was a positive predictor of psychological
availability while participation in outside activities was a negative predictor.
The other model of engagement comes from the burnout literature which describes
job engagement as the positive antithesis of burnout noting that burnout involves the
erosion of engagement with one’s job (Maslach et al., 2001). According to Maslach et al.
(2001), six areas of work-life lead to burnout and engagement: workload, control,
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rewards and recognition, community and social support, perceived fairness, and
values. They argue that job engagement is associated with a sustainable workload,
feelings of choice and control, appropriate recognition and reward, a supportive work
community, fairness and justice, and meaningful and valued work. Like burnout,
engagement is expected to mediate the link between these six work-life factors and
various work outcomes.
Although both Kahn’s (1990) and Maslach et al.’s (2001) models indicate the
psychological conditions or antecedents that are necessary for engagement, they do not
fully explain why individuals will respond to these conditions with varying degrees of
engagement. A stronger theoretical rationale for explaining employee engagement can
be found in social exchange theory (SET).
SET argues that obligations are generated through a series of interactions between
parties who are in a state of reciprocal interdependence. A basic tenet of SET is that
relationships evolve over time into trusting, loyal, and mutual commitments as long as
the parties abide by certain “rules” of exchange (Cropanzano and Mictchell, 2005).
Rules of exchange usually involve reciprocity or repayment rules such that the actions
of one party lead to a response or actions by the other party. For example, when
individuals receive economic and socioemotional resources from their organization,
they feel obliged to respond in kind and repay the organization (Cropanzano and
Mitchell, 2005). This is consistent with Robinson et al.’s (2004) description of
engagement as a two-way relationship between the employer and employee.
One way for individuals to repay their organization is through their level of
engagement. That is, employees will choose to engage themselves to varying degrees
and in response to the resources they receive from their organization. Bringing oneself
more fully into one’s work roles and devoting greater amounts of cognitive, emotional,
and physical resources is a very profound way for individuals to respond to an
organization’s actions. 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. Thus, employees are more likely to
exchange their engagement for resources and benefits provided by their organization.
In summary, SET provides a theoretical foundation to explain why employees
choose to become more or less engaged in their work and organization. The conditions
of engagement in both Kahn’s (1990) and Maslach et al.’s (2001) model can be
considered economic and socioemotional exchange resources within SCT. When
employees receive these resources from their organization they feel obliged to repay the
organization with greater levels of engagement. In terms of Kahn’s (1990) definition of
engagement, employees feel obliged to bring themselves more deeply into their role
performances as repayment for the resources they receive from their organization.
When the organization fails to provide these resources, individuals are more likely to
withdraw and disengage themselves from their roles. Thus, the amount of cognitive,
emotional, and physical resources that an individual is prepared to devote in the
performance of one’s work roles is contingent on the economic and socioemotional
resources received from the organization.
Study hypotheses
Figure 1 shows a model of employee engagement. At the core of the model are two
types of employee engagement: job and organization engagements. This follows from
Employee
engagement
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the conceptualization of engagement as role related (Kahn, 1990; Rothbard, 2001); that
is, it reflects the extent to which an individual is psychologically present in a particular
organizational role. The two most dominant roles for most organizational members are
their work role and their role as a member of an organization. Therefore, the model
explicitly acknowledges this by including both job and organization engagements.
This also follows from the notion that people have multiple roles and as suggested by
Rothbard (2001) as well as May et al. (2004), research should examine engagement in
multiple roles within organizations.
Antecedents of employee engagement
Although there is little empirical research on the factors that predict employee
engagement, it is possible to identify a number of potential antecedents from Kahn’s
(1990) and Maslach et al.’s (2001) model. While the antecedents might differ for job and
organization engagement, identical hypotheses are made for both types of engagement
given the lack of previous research and this being the first study to examine both job
and organization engagement.
Job characteristics. Psychological meaningfulness involves a sense of return on
investments of the self-in-role performances (Kahn, 1992). According to Kahn (1990,
1992), psychological meaningfulness can be achieved from task characteristics that
provide challenging work, variety, allow the use of different skills, personal discretion,
and the opportunity to make important contributions. This is based on Hackman and
Oldham’s (1980) job characteristics model and in particular, the five core job
characteristics (i.e. skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and
feedback). Jobs that are high on the core job characteristics provide individuals with
the room and incentive to bring more of themselves into their work or to be more
engaged (Kahn, 1992). May et al. (2004) found that job enrichment was positively
related to meaningfulness and meaningfulness mediated the relationship between job
enrichment and engagement.
The workload and control conditions from the Maslach et al. (2001) model also
suggest the importance of job characteristics for engagement. In fact, job
characteristics, especially feedback and autonomy, have been consistently related to
burnout (Maslach et al., 2001). From a SET perspective, one can argue that employees
who are provided with enriched and challenging jobs will feel obliged to respond with
higher levels of engagement. Therefore, H1 is the following:
H1. Job characteristics will be positively related to (a) job engagement and
(b) organization engagement.
Rewards and recognition. Kahn (1990) reported that people vary in their engagement as
a function of their perceptions of the benefits they receive from a role.
Figure 1.
A model of the
antecedents and
consequences of employee
engagement
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Furthermore, a sense of return on investments can come from external rewards and
recognition in addition to meaningful work. Therefore, one might expect that employees’
will be more likely to engage themselves at work to the extent that they perceive a
greater amount of rewards and recognition for their role performances. Maslach et al.
(2001) have also suggested that while a lack of rewards and recognition can lead to
burnout, appropriate recognition and reward is important for engagement. In terms of
SET, when employees receive rewards and recognition from their organization, they will
feel obliged to respond with higher levels of engagement. Thus, the second hypothesis is
as follows:
H2. Rewards and recognition will be positively related to (a) job engagement and
(b) organization engagement.
Perceived organizational and supervisor support. Psychological safety involves a sense
of being able to show and employ the self without negative consequences (Kahn, 1992).
An important aspect of safety stems from the amount of care and support employees’
perceive to be provided by their organization as well as their direct supervisor. In fact,
Kahn (1990) found that supportive and trusting interpersonal relationships as well as
supportive management promoted psychological safety. Organizational members felt
safe in work environments that were characterized by openness and supportiveness.
Supportive environments allow members to experiment and to try new things and even
fail without fear of the consequences (Kahn, 1990). In their empirical test of Kahn’s
model, May et al. (2004) also found that supportive supervisor relations was positively
related to psychological safety.
Social support is also one of the conditions in the Maslach et al. (2001) model and a
study by Schaufeli and Bakker (2004) found that a measure of job resources that
includes support from colleagues predicted engagement. A lack of social support has
also consistently been found to be related to burnout (Maslach et al., 2001).
Two variables that are likely to capture the essence of social support are perceived
organizational support (POS) and perceived supervisor support (PSS). POS refers to a
general belief that one’s organization values their contribution and cares about their
well-being (Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002). The basic premise of organizational
support research is SET. In particular, POS creates an obligation on the part of
employees to care about the organization’s welfare and to help the organization reach
its objectives (Rhoades et al., 2001). Although POS has been found to be related to a
number of favorable outcomes (e.g. job satisfaction, organizational commitment,
performance) (Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002), no previous study has related it to
employee engagement.
However, one reason that POS might lead to positive outcomes is through employee
engagement. In other words, employees’ who have higher POS might become more
engaged to their job and organization as part of the reciprocity norm of SET in order to
help the organization reach its objectives (Rhoades et al., 2001). In other words, when
employees believe that their organization is concerned about them and cares about
their well-being, they are likely to respond by attempting to fulfill their obligations to
the organization by becoming more engaged. In addition, because employees tend to
view their supervisor’s orientation toward them as indicative of the organization’s
support (Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002), PSS is also likely to be an important
predictor of employee engagement. In fact, a lack of support from supervisors has been
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found to be an especially important factor linked to burnout (Maslach et al., 2001).
In addition, first-line supervisors are believed to be especially important for building
engagement and to be the root of employee disengagement (Bates, 2004; Frank et al.,
2004). Therefore, H3 and H4 are as follows:
H3. Perceived organizational support (POS) will be positively related to (a) job
engagement and (b) organization engagement.
H4. Perceived supervisor support (PSS) will be positively related to (a) job
engagement and (b) organization engagement.
Distributive and procedural justice. The safety dimension identified by Kahn (1990)
involves social situations that are predictable and consistent. For organizations, it is
especially important to be predictable and consistent in terms of the distribution of
rewards as well as the procedures used to allocate them. While distributive justice
pertains to one’s perception of the fairness of decision outcomes, procedural justice
refers to the perceived fairness of the means and processes used to determine the
amount and distribution of resources (Colquitt, 2001; Rhoades et al., 2001). A review
of organizational justice research found that justice perceptions are related to
organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment,
organizational citizenship behavior, withdrawal, and performance (Colquitt et al.,
2001). However, previous research has not tested relationships between fairness
perceptions and employee engagement.
The effect of justice perceptions on various outcomes might be due in part to
employee engagement. In other words, when employees have high perceptions of
justice in their organization, they are more likely to feel obliged to also be fair in how
they perform their roles by giving more of themselves through greater levels of
engagement. On the other hand, low perceptions of fairness are likely to cause
employees to withdraw and disengage themselves from their work roles. Fairness and
justice is also one of the work conditions in the Maslach et al. (2001) engagement model.
A lack of fairness can exacerbate burnout and while positive perceptions of fairness
can improve engagement (Maslach et al., 2001). Therefore, H5 and H6 are as follows:
H5. Perceptions of procedural justice will be positively related to (a) job
engagement and (b) organization engagement.
H6. Perceptions of distributive justice will be positively related to (a) job
engagement and (b) organization engagement.
Consequences of employee engagement
The driving force behind the popularity of employee engagement is that it has positive
consequences for organizations. As indicated earlier, there is a general belief that there
is a connection between employee engagement and business results (Harter et al., 2002).
However, engagement is an individual-level construct and if it does lead to business
results, it must first impact individual-level outcomes. Along these lines, there is reason
to expect employee engagement to be related to individuals’ attitudes, intentions, and
behaviors.
Although neither Kahn (1990) nor May et al. (2004) included outcomes in their
studies, Kahn (1992) proposed that engagement leads to both individual outcomes
(i.e. quality of people’s work and their own experiences of doing that work), as well as
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organizational-level outcomes (i.e. the growth and productivity of organizations).
Furthermore, the Maslach et al. (2001) model treats engagement as a mediating
variable for the relationship between the six work conditions and work various
outcomes and like burnout, should be related to outcomes such as increased
withdrawal, lower performance, job satisfaction, and commitment (Maslach et al.,
2001).
There are a number of reasons to expect engagement to be related to work
outcomes. For starters, the experience of engagement has been described as a fulfilling,
positive work-related experience and state of mind (Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004;
Sonnentag, 2003) and has been found to be related to good health and positive work
affect (Sonnentag, 2003). These positive experiences and emotions are likely to result in
positive work outcomes. As noted by Schaufeli and Bakker (2004), engaged employees
likely have a greater attachment to their organization and a lower tendency to leave
their organization.
According to SET, when both parties abide by the exchange rules, the result will be
a more trusting and loyal relationship and mutual commitments (Cropanzano and
Mitchell, 2005). Thus, individuals who continue to engage themselves do so because of
the continuation of favorable reciprocal exchanges. As a result, individuals who are
more engaged are likely to be in more trusting and high-quality relationships with their
employer and will, therefore, be more likely to report more positive attitudes and
intentions toward the organization.
In addition, there is some empirical research that has reported relationships between
engagement and work outcomes. For example, engagement has been found to be
positively related to organizational commitment and negatively related to intention to
quit, and is believed to also be related to job performance and extra-role behavior
(Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004; Sonnentag, 2003). Schaufeli and Bakker (2004) found that
engagement was negatively related to turnover intention and mediated the relationship
between job resources and turnover intention. Therefore, it is predicted that job and
organization engagement will be related to work outcomes as follows:
H7. Job engagement will be positivelyrelated to (a) job satisfaction, (b) organizational
commitment, and (c) organizational citizenship behavior, and negatively related
to (d) intention to quit.
H8. Organization engagement will be positively related to (a) job satisfaction,
(b) organizational commitment, and (c) organizational citizenship behavior, and
negatively related to (d) intention to quit.
Finally, given that the antecedents are expected to predict engagement and
engagement predicts the outcomes, it is possible that engagement mediates the
relationship between the antecedents and the consequences. This is consistent with the
Maslach et al. (2001) model and is all the more likely given that most of the antecedents
(e.g. job characteristics, POS, justice perceptions) have been associated with various
work outcomes. Furthermore, several studies have found that engagement mediates
the relationship between antecedent variables and outcomes (Schaufeli and Bakker,
2004; Sonnentag, 2003). Therefore, the final hypothesis of this study is the following:
H9. Job and organization engagement will mediate the relationship between the
antecedents and the consequences.
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Method
Participants
Participants included 102 employees working in a variety of jobs and organizations.
The average age was 34; 60 percent were female. Participants had been in their current
job for an average of four years, and in their organization an average of five years.
They had on average 12 years of work experience. The sample is slightly younger than
the median age of population in the area (36.9) and the percent of female participants in
the study is somewhat higher than the percent of females in the population (52 percent).
Procedure
The data for this study was collected by students enrolled in a graduate course in
research methods at a large Canadian University in Toronto. At the time of the study,
the unemployment rate in the area was 7.71 percent. Each of 24 students in the course
was asked to distribute the survey to five currently employed individuals as part of a
class project on survey research. The survey included a cover letter/consent form that
informed participants about the purpose of the study. Participants were asked to
complete the survey as part of a study on employee work experiences and attitudes.
Participation was voluntary and participants were informed that their responses
would remain anonymous and confidential. Participants returned their survey in a
sealed envelope to the students who then handed them over to the lead investigator.
A total of 102 surveys were returned representing a response rate of 85 percent.
Measures
Job and organization engagement. Two six-item scales were designed for this study to
measure job engagement and organization engagement. Items were written to assess
participant’s psychological presence in their job and organization. A sample item for
job engagement is, “Sometimes I am so into my job that I lose track of time” and for
organization engagement, “One of the most exciting things for me is getting involved
with things happening in this organization.” Participants indicated their response on a
five-point Likert-type scale with anchors (1) strongly disagree to (5) strongly agree.
A principal components factor analysis with a promax rotation resulted in two
factors corresponding to job and organization engagements. All of the job engagement
items except one loaded 0.70 or higher with cross-factor loadings less than 0.20. The one
item loaded below 0.30 and had a higher cross-factor loading so it is was removed from
the job engagement scale resulting in a five-item scale (
a
¼ 0.82). All six of the
organization engagement items loaded 0.75 or higher and all of the cross-factor
loadings were less than 0.30 (
a
¼ 0.90).
Antecedents of engagement. Job characteristics were measured by six items from
Hackman and Oldham (1980) with each item corresponding to a core job characteristic
(autonomy, task identity, skill variety, task significance, feedback from others, and
feedback from the job). Participants indicated the extent or amount of each
characteristic in their job using specific seven-point anchors such as (1) very little to (7)
very much (
a
¼ 0.79). POS was measured by the eight-item short-form of the survey of
perceived organizational support (SPOS) and PSS was measured by the four-item scale
adapted from the SPOS (Rhoades et al., 2001). Participants’ responded using a
five-point Likert-type scale with anchors (1) strongly disagree to (7) strongly agree.
A sample item for POS is “My organization really cares about my well-being” and for
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supervisor support, “My supervisor cares about my opinions” (
a
¼ 0.89 for both
scales). Rewards and recognition was measured by a ten-item scale designed for this
study. Participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they receive various
outcomes for performing their job well. They responded using a five-point Likert-type
scale with anchors (1) to a small extent to (5) a large extent to items such as, “A pay
raise,” “A promotion,” “Praise from your supervisor,” and “Some form of public
recognition” (
a
¼ 0.80). Colquitt’s (2001) seven-item scale was used to measure
procedural justice and his four-item scale was used to measure distributive justice.
Participants responded using a five-point Likert-type scale with anchors (1) to a small
extent to (5) a large extent. A sample item for procedural justice is, “Have you been able
to appeal the (outcome) arrived at by those procedures,” and a sample item for
distributive justice is, “Does your (outcome) reflect the effort you have put into your
work?” (
a
¼ 0.89 for procedural justice and
a
¼ 0.92 for distributive justice).
Consequences of engagement. Job satisfaction was measured by Cammann et al.
(1983) three-item scale. A sample items is, “All in all, I am satisfied with my job”
(
a
¼ 0.84). Organizational commitment was measured by the six-item affective
commitment scale used by Rhoades et al. (2001). A sample item is, “I feel personally
attached to my work organization” (
a
¼ 0.90). Intention to quit was measured by
Colarelli’s (1984) three-item scale. A sample item is, “I am planning to search for a new
job during the next twelve months” (
a
¼ 0.82). Participants responded to all items for
the above scales using a five-point Likert-type scale with anchors (1) strongly disagree
to (7) strongly agree. Organizational citizenship behavior directed to the individual
(OCBI) and organization (OCBO) was each measured by four-items each from Lee and
Allen (2002). Participants responded using a five-point Likert-type scale with anchors
(1) never to (5) always. A sample item from the OCBI scale is, “Willingly give your time
to help others who have work-related problems” (
a
¼ 0.75) and a sample item from the
OCBO scale is, “Take action to protect the organization from potential problems”
(
a
¼ 0.73).
Items for all scales used in the study are listed in the Appendix.
Results
Table I presents the means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations of the study
variables. First, it is worth noting that there is a significant moderate correlation
between job and organization engagements (r ¼ 0.62, p , 0.001). However, the results
of a paired t-test indicated a significant difference, t (101) ¼ 2.42, p , 0.05. These
findings indicate that while the two measures of engagement are related, they are also
significantly different with participants indicating significantly higher job engagement
(M ¼ 3.06) than organization engagement (M ¼ 2.88). Second, as expected, the
antecedents are related to job and organization engagement. Third, job and
organization engagement were significantly positively related to job satisfaction,
organizational commitment, and organizational citizenship behavior, and negatively
related to intention to quit. To test the study hypotheses, multiple regression analyses
were conducted.
Antecedents of employee engagement
In order to test the hypotheses for the antecedents of employee engagement, multiple
regression analyses were conducted in which each measure of engagement was
Employee
engagement
609
Variable M SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
1. Job engagement 3.06 0.82 (0.82)
2. Organization
engagement 2.88 0.85 0.62
***
(0.90)
3. Job characteristics 4.93 1.09 0.48
***
0.36
***
(0.79)
4. Perceived
organizational
support 3.44 0.75 0.44
***
0.58
***
0.42
***
(0.89)
5. Supervisor
support 3.71 0.87 0.25
**
0.34
***
0.33
***
0.61
***
(0.89)
6. Rewards and
recognition 2.75 0.73 0.23
*
0.28
**
0.26
**
0.60
***
0.51
****
(0.80)
7. Procedural justice 3.16 0.89 0.25
**
0.41
***
0.37
***
0.47
***
0.37
***
0.41
***
(0.89)
8. Distributive
justice 3.15 0.96 0.22
*
0.33
***
0.33
***
0.53
***
0.39
***
0.43
**
0.55
***
(0.92)
9. Job satisfaction 3.73 0.93 0.52
***
0.57
***
0.41
***
0.58
***
0.37
***
0.44
***
0.39
***
0.51
***
(0.84)
10. Organizational
commitment 3.05 1.00 0.53
***
0.69
***
0.43
***
0.51
***
0.26
**
0.25
**
0.37
***
0.23
*
0.61
***
(0.90)
11. Intention to quit 2.63 1.17 2 0.41
***
2 0.44
***
2 0.36
***
2 0.41
***
2 0.29
**
2 0.21
*
2 0.34
***
2 0.31
**
2 0.69
***
2 0.68
***
(0.82)
12. OCBI 3.70 0.66 0.24
*
0.27
**
0.22
*
0.31
**
0.19 0.18 0.10 0.12 0.07 0.24
*
2 0.05 (0.75)
13. OCBO 3.17 0.78 0.39
***
0.42
***
0.46
***
0.36
***
0.21
*
0.21
*
0.35
***
0.15 0.25
**
0.56
***
2 0.29
**
0.51
***
(0.73)
Notes:
*
p , 0.05;
**
p , 0.01;
***
p , 0.001; and reliabilities are in parentheses
Table I.
Means, standard
deviations, reliabilities,
and intercorrelations of
study variables
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610
regressed simultaneously on all six of the antecedent variables. As shown in Table II,
the results indicate that the antecedent variables explained a significant amount of the
variance in job engagement (R
2
¼ 0.30, p , 0.001) and organization engagement
(R
2
¼ 0.39, p , 0.001). With respect to the study hypotheses, both job characteristics
(0.37, p , 0.001) and organizational support (0.36, p , 0.01) were significant
predictors of job engagement. Organizational support was also a significant predictor
of organization engagement (0.57, p , 0.001), and procedural justice
approached significance (0.18, p , 0.10). These results provide support for H1a, H3a,
H3b,andH6a.
Consequences of employee engagement
To test the hypotheses for the consequences of employee engagement, multiple
regression analyses were conducted in which each of the outcomes was regressed on
job and organization engagement. As shown in Table III, the engagement measures
explained a significant amount of the variance in job satisfaction (R
2
¼ 0.37,
p , 0.001), organizational commitment (R
2
¼ 0.50, p , 0.001), intention to quit
(R
2
¼ 0.22, p , 0.001), OCBI (R
2
¼ 0.08, p , 0.05), and OCBO (R
2
¼ 0.20, p , 0.001).
Both job and organization engagement predicted job satisfaction (0.26, p , 0.01 and
0.41, p , 0.001), organizational commitment (0.17, p ¼ 0.06 and 0.59, p , 0.001),
intention to quit (2 0.22, p ¼ 0.06 and 2 0.31, p , 0.01), and OCBO (0.20, p , 0.10 and
Variables Job engagement Organization engagement
Job characteristics 0.37
***
0.12
Perceived organizational support 0.36
**
0.57
***
Supervisor support 2 0.05 2 0.03
Rewards and recognition 2 0.03 2 0.13
Procedural justice 0.01 0.18
*
Distributive justice 2 0.06 2 0.05
R
2
0.30 0.39
F 6.55
***
9.74
***
Notes:
*
p , 0.10;
**
p , 0.01;
***
p , 0.001; and values in table are standardized
b
coefficients
Table II.
Multiple regression
analyses predicting
employee engagement
Job
satisfaction
Organizational
commitment
Intention
to quit
Organizational
citizenship
behavior-individual
Organizational
citizenship
behavior-organization
Job
engagement 0.26
***
0.17
*
2 0.22
*
0.11 0.20
*
Organization
engagement 0.41
a
0.59
a
2 0.31
***
0.20
*
0.30
***
R
2
0.37 0.50 0.21 0.08 0.20
F 29.18
a
48.78
a
14.21
a
4.29
**
12.64
a
Notes:
*
p , 0.10;
**
p , 0.05;
***
p , 0.01;
a
p , 0.001; and values in table are standardized
b
coefficients
Table III.
Multiple regression
analyses for engagement
predicting consequences
Employee
engagement
611
0.30, p , 0.01). However, for OCBI organization engagement approached significance
(0.20, p ¼ 0.10) and job engagement was not significant. These results provide support
for H7a-H7d and H8a-H8c, and H8e.
Mediating effects of employee engagement
According to Baron and Kenny (1986), three conditions must be met to establish
mediation. First, the independent variable(s) (the antecedents of engagement) must be
related to the mediator (employee engagement). Second, the mediator (employee
engagement) must be related to the dependent variable(s) (the consequences of
engagement). Third, a significant relationship between the independent variable(s)
(antecedents of engagement) and a dependent variable(s) (consequences of engagement)
will be reduced (partial mediation) or no longer be significant (full mediation) when
controlling for the mediator (employee engagement). Conditions one and two have been
met as described above. For condition three, the antecedents must first be related to the
consequences.
In order to test for a mediation model in which engagement mediates the
relationship between the set of antecedents and each consequence, additional
regression analyses were conducted in which the consequences were regressed on the
antecedents alone and then again with the engagement measures controlled. For job
satisfaction, the antecedents explained 42 percent of the variance but dropped to
15 percent ( p , 0.001) with the engagement measures controlled. For organizational
commitment, the antecedents explained 35 percent of the variance but only 5 percent
(ns) when the engagement measures were controlled. For intention to quit, the
antecedents explained 24 percent of the variance but only 6 percent (ns) with the
engagement measures controlled. For OCBI, the antecedents explained 12 percent of
the variance but only 5 percent (ns) with the engagement measures controlled and for
OCBO, the antecedents explained 31 percent of the variance but only 13 percent with
engagement controlled ( p , 0.01).
In summary, the results provide partial support for H9. For all of the outcomes, the
variance explained by the antecedents was substantially reduced when job and
organization engagement were controlled, and in fact, reduced to non-significance for
organizational commitment, intention to quit, and OCBI. Overall, these results suggest
that the relationship between the antecedent variables and the consequences is
partially mediated by job and organization engagement.
Discussion
There has been a great deal of interest in employee engagement in recent years
especially among practitioners and consultants. Although much has made about the
importance of employee engagement for organizational performance and business
results, there is little empirical evidence to back up these claims leading one to
speculate that engagement might just be the “flavor of the month” or the latest
management fad. The purpose of this study was to test a model of the antecedents and
consequences of job and organization engagements based existing models of
engagement and SET. This study provides one of the first empirical tests of the
antecedents and consequences of employee engagement and makes a number of
contributions to this new and emerging area.
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First, this study approached engagement as role specific with respect to one’s job
and organization. In fact, the results demonstrate that job and organization
engagements are related but distinct constructs. Participants’ scores were significantly
higher for job engagement compared to organization engagement. In addition, the
relationships between job and organization engagement with the antecedents and
consequences differed in a number of ways suggesting that the psychological
conditions that lead to job and organization engagements as well as the consequences
are not the same. As well, both job and organization engagements explained significant
and unique variance in job satisfaction, organizational commitment, intention to quit,
and OCBO. These findings are the first to suggest that there is a meaningful distinction
between job and organization engagements.
Second, this study found that a number of factors predict job and organization
engagement. While POS predicted job and organization engagement, job
characteristics predicted job engagement and procedural justice predicted
organization engagement. Third, the results of this study indicate that job and
organization engagement are related to employees’ attitudes, intentions, and behaviors.
In particular, job and organization engagements predicted job satisfaction,
organizational commitment, intention to quit, and OCBO while only organization
engagement predicted OCBI. Furthermore, organization engagement was a much
stronger predictor of all of the outcomes than job engagement. Fourth, like several
other studies (Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004; Sonnentag, 2003), the results of this study
suggest that employee engagement partially mediates the relationship between
antecedent variables and consequences.
Finally, the results of this study suggest that employee engagement can be
understood in terms of SET. That is, employees who perceive higher organizational
support are more likely to reciprocate with greater levels of engagement in their job
and in the organization; employees who are provided with jobs that are high on the job
characteristics are more likely to reciprocate with greater job engagement; and
employees who have higher perceptions of procedural justice are more likely to
reciprocate with greater organization engagement. Engaged employees are also more
likely to have a high-quality relationship with their employer leading them to also have
more positive attitudes, intentions, and behaviors.
Implications for research
The results of this study suggest that employee engagement is a meaningful construct
that is worthy of future research. There are several avenues to consider. One area
would be to investigate other potential predictors of job and organization engagement.
The present study included a number of factors associated with Kahn’s (1990, 1992)
and Maslach et al.’s (2001) engagement models. However, there are other variables that
might also be important for both job and organization engagement. For example,
human resource practices such as flexible work arrangements, training programs, and
incentive compensation might also be important for engagement. Future research
could include a broader range of predictors that are linked to particular types of role
engagement. Along these lines, future research should attempt to flesh out the types of
factors that are most important for engagement in different roles (e.g. job, organization,
and group).
Employee
engagement
613
Future research might also consider individual difference variables that might
predict employee engagement. Several personality variables including hardiness,
self-esteem, and locus of control are related to burnout and might also be important for
engagement (Maslach et al., 2001). Self-efficacy has also been recognized as an
important factor in burnout and engagement (Maslach et al., 2001). There is also some
evidence that individuals with a strong exchange ideology are more likely to feel
obliged to reciprocate a benefit (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005). Thus, the relationship
between various antecedents and engagement might be stronger for individuals with a
strong exchange ideology. Future research might test the moderating effects of
exchange ideology for the relationship between antecedents and engagement.
A final area for future research is to study the potential effect of experimental
interventions on employee engagement. There is some evidence that exchange-inducing
interventions can invoke a sense of obligation on the part of individuals who feel obliged
to reciprocate (Ganzach et al., 2002). Thus, future research might investigate the extent to
which interventions can create a sense of obligation that leads individuals to reciprocate
with higher levels of engagement. For example, training managers to be more
supportive might be effective for improving perceptions of organizational support and
caring. Job design interventions that provide employees with more autonomy and
variety in their work as well as career management interventions might also be effective.
This is likely to be a fruitful area for future research given the increasing interest on the
part of organizations to improve employee engagement and address the so-called
“engagement-gap.”
Implications for practice
The results of this study also have some practical implications. First, POS was the only
significant predictor of both job and organization engagement. Interestingly, this is the
one antecedent variable in the study where SET has been used to explain employee
attitudes and behavior. In the context of this study, it would appear that the caring and
concern associated with POS creates a sense of obligation on the part of employees who
reciprocate with greater levels of job and organization engagement. Thus, organizations
that wish to improve employee engagement should focus on employees’ perceptions of
the support they receive from their organization. Organizational programs that address
employees’ needs and concerns (e.g. surveys, focus groups, and suggestion programs)
and demonstrate caring and support (e.g. flexible work arrangements) might cause
employees to reciprocate with higher levels of engagement.
Second, an important practical implication for managers is the need for them to
understand the importance of social exchange for employee engagement. In particular,
managers need to provide employees with resources and benefits that will oblige them
to reciprocate in kind with higher levels of engagement. Although the results of this
study highlight the importance of job characteristics and social support, there might be
other factors that are more important for different employees. Thus, a “one size fits all”
approach to employee engagement might not be the most effective. Managers should
find out what resources and benefits are most desired by employees and most likely to
create a sense of obligation that is returned with greater levels of engagement.
Finally, managers should understand that employee engagement is a long-term and
on-going process that requires continued interactions over time in order to generate
obligations and a state of reciprocal interdependence (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005).
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In addition, engagement needs to be viewed as a broad organizational and cultural
strategy that involves all levels of the organization (Frank et al., 2004), a series of
actions and steps (Shaw, 2005) that require the input and involvement of organizational
members (Robinson et al., 2004), and consistent, continuous, and clear communications
(Kress, 2005).
Study limitations
The results of this study should be considered in light of its limitations. Similar to other
studies in this area (May et al., 2004; Rothbard, 2001; Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004;
Sonnentag, 2003), this study used cross-sectional and self-report data. This limits the
conclusions one can make about causality and also raises concerns about common
method bias. With respect to causality, we cannot be sure that the antecedents cause
engagement or that engagement causes the consequences. While these linkages are
consistent with the literature on engagement (Kahn, 1990, 1992) burnout (Maslach et al.,
2001; Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004), and SET (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005) it is
possible that engaged employees have more positive perceptions of their work
experiences or that some of the consequences cause engagement. Longitudinal and
experimental studies are required to provide more definitive conclusions about the
causal effects of employee engagement and the extent to which social exchange
explains these relationships.
While the results of this study might have been affected by method bias, there are
several reasons to place some confidence in the results. First, the results indicated that
participants’ job and organization engagement scores were significantly different from
each other. Second, the relationships between each measure of engagement and the
antecedents and consequences differed in a number of meaningful ways. For example,
job characteristics predicted job engagement but not organization engagement, and
organization engagement but not job engagement predicted OCBI. Third, the fact that
both job and organization engagements were significant predictors of four of the
outcome variables (job satisfaction, organizational commitment, intention to quit, and
OCBO) suggests that they are independently related to these outcomes. This pattern of
results reduces concerns about common method bias as does the fact that all of the
scales in this study were multi-item and had high reliability (Spector, 1987).
Finally, the data collection involved a snowballing approach rather than a random
sampling method. As a result, some caution is required in generalizing the results to
the larger population. On the positive side, the sample did not vary greatly from the
population with respect to age and gender.
Conclusion
Although employee engagement has become a hot topic among practitioners and
consultants, there has been practically no empirical research in the organizational
behavior literature. This has led to speculation that employee engagement might just
be the “flavor of the month” or a fad with little basis in theory and research. The results
of this study suggest the following:
.
there is a meaningful distinction between job engagement and organization
engagement;
.
a number of antecedent variables predict job and organization engagement;
Employee
engagement
615
.
job and organization engagement are related to individual consequences;
.
job and organization engagement mediate the relationship between antecedent
variables and consequences; and
.
SET provides a meaningful theoretical basis for understanding and studying
employee engagement.
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Appendix
Job engagement
I really “throw” myself into my job.
Sometimes I am so into my job that I lose track of time.
This job is all consuming; I am totally into it.
My mind often wanders and I think of other things when doing my job (R).
I am highly engaged in this job.
Organization engagement
Being a member of this organization is very captivating.
One of the most exciting things for me is getting involved with things happening in this
organization.
I am really not into the “goings-on” in this organization (R).
Being a member of this organization make me come “alive.”
Being a member of this organization is exhilarating for me.
I am highly engaged in this organization.
Employee
engagement
617
Job characteristics
How much autonomy is there in your job? That is, to what extent does your job permit you to
decide on your own how to go about doing the work?
To what extent does your job involve doing a “whole” and identifiable piece of work? That is,
is the job a complete piece of work that has an obvious beginning and end? Or is it only a small
part of the overall piece of work, which is finished by other people or by automatic machines?
How much variety is there in your job? That is, to what extent does the job require you to do
many different things at work, using a variety of your skills and talents?
In general, how significant or important in your job? That is, are the results of your work
likely to significantly affect the lives or well-being of other people?
To what extent do managers or co-workers let you know how well you are doing on your job?
To what extent does doing the job itself provide you with information about your work
performance? That is, does the actual work itself provide clues about how well you are doing
aside from any “feedback” co-workers or supervisors may provide?
Rewards and Recognition
A pay raise.
Job security.
A promotion.
More freedom and opportunities.
Respect from the people you work with.
Praise from your supervisor.
Training and development opportunities.
More challenging work assignments.
Some form of public recognition (e.g. employee of the month).
A reward or token of appreciation (e.g. lunch).
Distributive justice
Do the outcomes you receive reflect the effort you have put into your work?
Are the outcomes you receive appropriate for the work you have completed?
Do your outcomes reflect what you have contributed to the organization?
Are your outcomes justified given your performance?
Procedural justice
Have you been able to express your views and feelings during those procedures?
Have you had influence over the outcomes arrived at by those procedures?
Have those procedures been applied consistently?
Have those procedures been free of bias?
Have those procedures been based on accurate information?
Have you been able to appeal the outcomes arrived at by those procedures?
Have those procedures upheld ethical and moral standards?
Perceived organizational support
My organization really cares about my well-being.
My organization strongly considers my goals and values.
My organization shows little concern for me (R).
My organization cares about my opinions.
My organization is willing to help me if I need a special favor.
Help is available from my organization when I have a problem.
My organization would forgive a honest mistake on my part.
If given the opportunity, my organization would take advantage of me (R).
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Perceived supervisor support
My supervisor cares about my opinions.
My work supervisor really cares about my well-being.
My supervisor strongly considers my goals and values.
My supervisor shows very little concern form me (R).
Job satisfaction
All in all, I am satisfied with my job.
In general, I do not like my job (R).
In general, I like working here.
Organizational commitment
I would be happy to work at my organization until I retire.
Working at my organization has a great deal of personal meaning to me.
I really feel that problems faced by my organization are also my problems.
I feel personally attached to my work organization.
I am proud to tell others I work at my organization.
I feel a strong sense of belonging to my organization.
Intent to quit
I frequently think of quitting my job.
I am planning to search for a new job during the next 12 months.
If I have my own way, I will be working for this organization one year from now (R).
OCBI
Willingly give your time to help others who have work-related problems.
Adjust your work schedule to accommodate other employees’ requests for time off.
Give up time to help others who have work or non-work problems.
Assist others with their duties.
OCBO
Attend functions that are not required but that help the organizational image.
Offer ideas to improve the functioning of the organization.
Take action to protect the organization from potential problems.
Defend the organization when other employees criticize it.
Corresponding author
Alan M. Saks can be contacted at: saks@utsc.utoronto.ca
Employee
engagement
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... Work engagement has become an issue of interest in organizational psychology because it relates to different aspects of organizational prosperity. And numerous researchers have found the relationship between work engagement and, from a corporate perspective, important issues such as productivity, job satisfaction, motivation, organizational commitment, low level of turnover intention, customer satisfaction and work performance, health, lower absenteeism and organizational and job satisfaction (Hallberg, & Schaufeli, 2006;Saks, 2006;Schaufeli, Taris, & Van Rhenen, 2008). Employees with higher levels of work engagement direct more efforts toward organizational goals (Macey, Schneider, Barbera, & Young, 2009), and they are more committed to the organization (Field, & Buitendach, 2011). ...
... The instruments used in this study were adopted from prior studies. Nine items adapted from Adli et al (2014) measured e-HRM (five items to measure e-training, five items to measure e-compensation, and four items to measure e-performance appraisal), and five items adapted from Saks (2006) measured employee engagement. The instrument was based on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from (1) strongly disagree to (5) strongly agree ...
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The infrastructure and use of the Internet have developed rapidly in recent years, which propelled traditional human resources systems into a new electronic human resources (E-HRM) approach. A vision of King Abdullah II, King of Jordan, is to invest in the information technology sector in terms of providing the necessary infrastructure and activating e-government and electronic services for public sector and citizens. Therefore, this paper come to explore the relationship between e-HRM and employees' engagement (EE). A total number of 215 usable questionnaires were collected from employees working in different public organizations in Jordan. Partial least square (PLS-SEM) is employed to test the research hypotheses. The results indicate that e-training and e-compensation has a positive relationship with EE, while no relationship between e-performance appraisal and EE. Accordingly, the current study recommends that governments to enhance and apply e-HRM in their organization to improve and increase EE. The study's limitations and recommendations for future studies are also considered.
... Previous studies found that EE is influenced by work environment and work conditions, such as a positive workplace, opportunities for growth, recognition, and feedback from the company (Harter, Schmidt, & Killham, 2003). Additionally, EE is influenced by employees' psychological and physical conditions, such as their level of happiness, enthusiasm, and physical health (Loehr, 2005) and by job satisfaction, job characteristics, organizational commitment, and organizational citizenship (Saks, 2006). Cawe (Cawe, 2006) found that communication knowledge sharing, and organizations' reputation and branding were EE drivers. ...
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