Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Measurements of engagement

Measurements of engagement:
  1. assume engagement exists
  2. is important to have
Saks {, 2006} researched employee engagement, distinguishing between organisational and job engagement. It is a useful review of the literature. For example:
  • 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.”
  • Rothbard (2001, p. 656) also defines engagement as psychological presence but goes further to state that it involves two critical components: attention and absorption
  • Burnout researchers define engagement as the opposite or positive antithesis of burnout (Maslach et al., 2001).
  • 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.”
  • Robinson et al. (2004, p. 8) state that: ". . . engagement contains many of the elements of both commitment and OCB, but is by no means a perfect match with either."
Then Saks states:
"Engagement is not an attitude; it is the degree to which an individual is attentive and absorbed in the performance of their roles."
A degree implies that there is some that can be measured. Saks measured using social exchange theory (SET) as his framework. But he writes that SET provides a theoretical foundation to explain why employees choose to become engaged. (So he's not answering my question of how).

Saks created hypotheses from the components of this diagram, then used questions with answers based on the Likert scale.

Schaufeli {2006} developed a questionnaire to measure work engagement, defining it as:
"Work engagement is defined as a positive, fulfilling work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption."
To me, that doesn't say that you can measure a state of mind, but Schaufeli's questionnaire measured the factors of vigor, dedication and absorption. He concluded that the results showed that "work engagement may be conceived as the positive antipode of burnout" and that his questionnaire could be used in studies of organisational behaviour. But his research doesn't tell me how people engage with each other or how engagement adds value.

It seems funny that you can measure some behaviour without knowing how you do that behaviour.

Saks, A. M. (2006) 'Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement', Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21 (7), pp. 600-619. 938
Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B. and Salanova, M. (2006) 'The Measurement of Work Engagement With a Short Questionnaire: A Cross-National Study', Educational & Psychological Measurement, 66 (4), pp. 701-716. 835

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