Organizational Context Assignment 2A
Introduction on Employee Engagement
Stephen R. Covey once said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers”. One of the most talked about concept in the present era is on “Employee Engagement”. Macey and Schneider (2011) reported that employee engagement has garnered an extensive attention in the society with several approaches and various interpretations of the same concept. Though numerous literatures have emerged over time, it has been widely disparate and discordant with intermittent focus on aspects such as psychology, management and sociology. Four emerging perspectives and their critiques will be analysed in the review of the theories in the next section.
1st Perspective: Kahn’s Theory (1990) Need-Satisfying Approach
According to Kahn (1990), the level of responsibility, commitment and involvement an employee holds towards the organization characterizes the concept of employee engagement. The author uses the idea of simultaneous usage physical, cognitive and emotional reflection expression and employment in every individual. The three states were deemed to be affected by the three psychological domains, which are meaningfulness, safety and availability. Kahn believed that every individual should be given his or her own freedom and flexibility to communicate his or her views. Such activities will in turn boost the self-confidence and morale of employees thus shaping them to be motivated and engaged in their work. This will optimize the productivity level at work. In situations whereby characteristics such as emotional absence and passiveness is absent, there will be a disengagement among the employees.
Kahn’s conceptualization of engagement was put to further test when three authors (May, Gilson & Harter, 2004) used a sample of 203 employees in a large Midwestern insurance firm to test on employee engagement. The authors agreed that all of Kahn’s conditions of meaningfulness, availability and safety were necessary conditions in the development of engagement.
Using the Kahn’s Framework, Shuck (2011) did a research with 283 employees in various industry fields and suggested the following. Three aspects, which were affective commitment, psychological engagement and job fit, were highly related to employee engagement (Shuck, 2011). Discretionary effort and turnover intention were also closely related to employee engagement. Shuck (2011) revealed that two of Kahn’s dimensions, which were availability and meaningfulness, were closely related to turnover intention.
2nd Perspective: Maslach et al.’s (2001) Burnout-Antithesis Approach
The author Maslach et al.’s portrayed another perspective of employee engagement. He has described employee engagement as a positive contrary to burnout, which is led by high levels of satisfaction, energy, involvement and contentment (Maslach et al., 2001). This was introduced as the concept of Burnout Inventory Model with the three-burnout dimensions (Exhaustion, Cynicism and Ineffectiveness) (Maslach et al., 2001). Burnout has been viewed to impose negative outcomes, which will turn energy into exhaustion, involvement into cynicism and efficacy into ineffectiveness (Maslach et al., 2001). Burnout is the negative consequence of engagement that becomes insignificant and pointless over time.
Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonza´lez-Roma´, ; Bakker, (2002) had alternate views on the Maslach et al. framework. They considered employee engagement as a separate and distinct concept that is re-defines employee engagement as a positive and meaningful work-related state of mind. It is defined by three characteristics, which are known as vigour, dedication and absorption (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonza´lez-Roma´, ; Bakker, 2002). Vigor is known as the high level of dynamism and energy while dedication refers to the strong sense of pride and ownership in the work. On the other hand, absorption refers to full concentration and engrossment in a work with a close attachment to the work. Vigour and Dedication are the known to be the direct opposites of cynicism and exhaustion. Cynicism and exhaustion are the two-core manifestation of the burnout (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonza´lez-Roma´, ; Bakker, 2002).
One of the interesting critique to the theories of Maslach et al. (2001) and Schaufeli, Salanova et al. (2002) is the view of researcher (Johnson, 2003) who proposed that the theories did not consider the cognitive engagement processes which Kahn has conceptualized. Johnson (2003) mentioned that the theories only considered the physical and emotional lacking in burnout.
3rd Perspective: Harter et al’s (2002) Satisfaction-Engagement Approach
Harter et al. (2002) used the positive psychology framework to analyse the employee engagement framework using the data held at Gallup Organization. The research was conducted simultaneously on multiple industries. The researchers in Gallup concluded that employee engagement is defined as an individual’s involvement, fulfilment and enthusiasm for work (Harter et al., 2002). The Gallup Work Audit (GWA) questionnaire revealed that there was a positive correlation between employee engagement and business outcomes (Harter et al., 2002). High levels employee engagement lead to successful business outcomes.
4th Perspective: Saks’s (2006) Multidimensional Approach
Sak’s hypothesis of employee engagement was multifaceted and intricate work due his distinct segregation of engagement into two parts (Saks, 2006). One is job engagement and another is organizational engagement. Saks (2006) took the various framework of cognitive, emotional and behavioural elements from Kahn’s, Maslach et al. and Harter et al’s Theory. He developed a three-component (cognitive-emotional-behavioural) model. To test the outcome, he used variables such as job characteristics, perceived organizational support and procedural justice to measure employment engagement (Saks, 2006).
Organization Barrier in my Company
An organizational barrier refers to an obstacle or hindrance that prevents employees from performing or achieving a task. Bureaucracy is major barrier in the organization that I am presently working in (Marlow, 2018). It is imperative to understand the full meaning of Bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the rigid and complex administrative system put in place in organizations through a closed system. There is a paramount use of hierarchical procedures to make decisions (Marlow, 2018). In my organization, there is multitudinous layers of decision making which means it could take months to years for a decision to be approved by the management. This is especially evident in the IT projects that has been undertaken.
Impact of Bureaucracy as a Barrier on Employee Engagement
The first impact of Bureaucracy is that the High level of rigour and stringency will stampede the creativity level of employees (Ali Abbaas et al, 2014). When too many rules are imposed on an employee, the growth of the employee is limited. They are not able to think out of the box in a fear that the opinions will be rejected. In Kahn’s (1990) Needs Satisfying Theory, employees needs to be allowed to express his or her own views depicting acts of freedom and satisfaction (Ali Abbaas et al, 2014).
The second impact of bureaucracy will be on the impersonal aspect. In regards to the Max Weber’s Theory of bureaucracy, the system work in a manner whereby it does not give enough importance to human emotions, morals and needs (Rothwell, 2018). The features of the Max Weber Theory is summarized in a Figure 1a as per below.
Figure 1A: Max Weber Bureaucracy Theory
In short, it is impersonal and the employee’s wellbeing is not considered in those aspects. The fixed rules are considered more crucial than the employee’s emotions or value. There should be a rigid division of roles and responsibilities, which could be a potential problem in coordination and communication of the tasks (Wollard, ; Shuck, 2011).
In relation to Maslach et al. Burnout-Antithesis Approach, this could be deemed as potential avenue for exhaustion and cynicism over time. Due to the lack of respect and importance given to the employee, they may feel emotionally depleted which causes them to ignore the qualities of their co-colleagues they work with unique (Wollard, ; Shuck, 2011). Cynicism on other hand according to Maslach Theory is the significant level of detached responses to the different aspects of the job.
The third impact of bureaucracy on employee engagement is slow decision making (Albrecht, 2012). The bureaucratic systems operate on a specific structure based on officialdom process. Thus, bureaucracy fails to adapt to the competitive and changing world not being able to react to competitors efficiently.
The last impact of bureaucracy is that it limits the capacity and capability of the employees (Albrecht, 2012). Due to the fact, that there is a heavy compartmentalization of duties; the employees are only confined to their own work scope. They are not allowed to work beyond their delegated responsibilities, which restrict employee’s personal growth. Thus, it affects their motivation level as well. Maslow’s Theory can be applied in the context of the employee engagement (Albrecht, 2012). As per Figure 2A, the level of job satisfaction and commitment increases when the employees are empowered and feels trusted. In a bureaucratic organizations, employees are very often stuck at Level 2 (Accepting) where they only do what is expected of them and do not consider any other challenges (Albrecht, 2012).
Figure 2A: Maslow’s Theory in the Context of Leadership and Employee Engagement
Employee Engagement has manifested itself in various forms as analysed from the literature reviews of the various scholars. Employee Engagement is important in today’s organizational context and will continue to play an integral role in the future. Organizations need to look beyond bureaucracy to ensure there are effective solutions.
1. Albrecht, S. L. (2012). The influence of job, team and organizational level resources on employee well-being, engagement, commitment and extra-role performance Test of a model. Article. International Journal of Manpower, 33(7), 840- 853. doi: 10.1108/01437721211268357
2. Ali Abbaas, A., ; Altarawneh, I. I. (2014). Employee Engagement and Organizational Commitment: Evidence from Jordan. Article. International Journal of Business, 19(2), 192-212.
3. Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., ; ten Brummelhuis, L. L. (2012). Work engagement, performance, and active learning: The role of conscientiousness. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(2), 555-564. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2011.08.008
4. Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., ; Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(2), 268-279. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.2.268
5. Macey, W., Schneider, B., Barbera, K. and Young, S. (2011). Employee Engagement. Hoboken: John Wiley ; Sons.
6. Marlow, F. (2018). Five Barriers to Improving Employee Engagement | Energage. online Energage. Available at: https://www.energage.com/five-barriers-employee-engagement/ Accessed 09 Jun. 2018.
7. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., ; Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 397-422.
8. Rothwell, W. (2018). 5 Barriers to Employee Engagement. online Best Practice Institute – Modern Talent Magazine. Available at: https://www.bestpracticeinstitute.org/blog/5-barriers-to-employee-engagement/ Accessed 09 Jun. 2018.
9. Saks, A. M. (2006). Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. Article. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(7), 600-619. doi: 10.1108/02683940610690169
10. Shuck, B. (2011). Integrative Literature Review: Four Emerging Perspectives of Employee Engagement: An Integrative Literature Review. Human Resource Development Review, 10(3), 304-328. doi: 10.1177/1534484311410840
11. Wollard, K. K., ; Shuck, B. (2011). Antecedents to Employee Engagement: A Structured Review of the Literature. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 13(4), 429-446. doi: 10.1177/1523422311431220