Engagement, motivation and the  changing nature of the psychologicalcontract: A perspective on the evidence               ...
Outline   An evidence-based management perspective (not much    directly about changing nature of PC and motivation)   T...
What are your answers? And what isyour evidence?1. Does engagement mean anything new or   different?2. Can engagement be r...
The underlying logic of EBMgt   Practitioners are faced with decisions   All practitioners have limited knowledge   Our...
What do we mean by evidence andevidence-based?   Evidence is any information that might be    relevant to making a decisi...
What is EBMgt?   Evidence-based management is about    making decisions through the    conscientious, explicit, and judic...
What is evidence-based management?                                     7                                     7
What about gut and intuition?   Gut and intuition is a form of evidence   Arises when experts repeat the same or    simi...
So what is the best evidence aboutemployee engagement?   Depends on questions: Five key questions are    1.   Does it mea...
What evidence do you know about EE that is notanecdotes, expert opinions, case studies…   …and answers any of these quest...
In other words…  …for the most important practical questions about whether engagement is important, if it   can be increas...
Why do we need it? What else is drivingdecisions?   Biases in thinking and limitations of    information processing   Po...
Error and biases in problem-solving anddecision-makingA bat and ball cost one pound and ten pence.The bat costs a pound mo...
Error and biases in problem-solving anddecision-makingIn a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patchdouble...
Error and biases in problem-solving anddecision-making – some examples   Confirmation bias: Tendency to interpret and sea...
Visual perceptions too: Some classicoptical illusions                                        16                           ...
1717
1818
1919
Management fads and fashions   What are they?   Some examples   What do they do?                                20     ...
Management fashions (Carson et al,2000) are interventions that are…   subject to social contagion because they are novel ...
Examples   Business process re-engineering   Total quality management   Quality circles   Talent management   Lean  ...
   Pictures of book covers were here but    removed to reduce size of file                                             23...
Article titles: Miller et al (2004)   Stage 1 - Ascendancy: Total Quality: Wave of the    Future, Reengineering: It’s Tot...
How are fads a problem? (Donaldson &Hilmer, 1998)   “The main problem…is their lack of any solid    intellectual foundati...
2626
Following fads and fashions is a humanurge   In retrospect can we identify management    fads?   Why did we follow them?...
2828
How to detect a management fad — eightwarning signs (Miller et al, 2004)1.   Simple, straightforward: A fad’s ideas are ea...
How to detect a management fad — eightwarning signs (Miller et al, 2004)5. In tune with zeitgeist: Fads resonate with the ...
The role of consultants   Translators of research evidence?   Brokers or sellers of management fads and    fashions?   ...
Pfeffer & Sutton (2006)   “…consultants and others who sell ideas and    techniques are always rewarded for getting    wo...
Power, politics and careers   What are managers rewarded for?    –   Doing what works? But very few evaluations    –   Ge...
Huge incentives and punishments aroundconventional thinking, fads, fashions   And there we see the power of any big    ma...
Huge incentives and punishments aroundconventional thinking, fads, fashions   The true value of conventional management  ...
History shows we don’t sufficientlyquestion the powerful   Many esteemed bodies, groups, individuals    whose views we ta...
The employee engagement explosion:         What’s going on?                                      37                       ...
Some background and context   Kahn (1990): Deployment of preferred self under conditions    of meaningfulness, safety, ps...
Schaufeli & Bakker (2010)   March 2008 and April 2012                                 4.15m      10,100                  ...
Number of Google searches by year   Has satisfaction gone out of fashion to be    replaced by employee engagement?       ...
4141
UK attitudes before and during the recession 2006to 2010 from British Social Attitudes   Have these increased, decreased ...
UK attitudes before and during the recession 2006to 2010 from British Social Attitudes   What’s happened to    – Job inse...
Where are we now?“Despite the proliferation in engagement relatedresearch…we believe that the notion of workengagement is ...
   “Employee engagement is becoming a    popular term among human resource    management and development consultants,    ...
   “Although seemingly voluminous, most of the    existing literature is opinion, rather than    evidence-based scholarsh...
Old and new wines and bottles   “The state engagement construct we have    presented to this point in the review is thus ...
Old and new wines and bottles   “We agree with Macey and Schneider’s above    quote that state engagement constitutes a  ...
Old and new wines and bottles   “We also argue that the question ‘‘is    engagement old wine in a new bottle?’’ is    don...
Old and new wines and bottles   “…it is time to put to bed the notion that    engagement is nothing more that some ‘‘old ...
Work engagement: what we don’tknow yet (Bakker et al, 2011)1. How should we conceptualize engagement?2. How should we best...
Work engagement: what we don’tknow yet (Bakker et al, 2011)7. Do engaged employees conserve their own   work engagement?8....
So what’s going on?   Popular concept with at least two distinct    fields – psychology and HR/consultancy   Very little...
Multiple meanings: Why it matters if“engagement” can means anythingvaguely related to employee feelingsand motivation     ...
5555
How many definitions? And does itmatter? (MacLeod & Clarke, 2009)   “There is no one agreed definition of employee    eng...
   “This lack of continuity [in definition]    contributes to a deep misconception of the    complexities around the conc...
Some practice-oriented definitions   Gallup: “The term employee engagement refers    to an individual’s involvement and s...
Some practice-oriented definitions   Towers Perrin: “personal satisfaction and a    sense of inspiration and affirmation ...
Some practice-oriented definitions   Conference Board: ‘‘employee engagement is a    heightened emotional and intellectua...
Some academic research-orienteddefinitions   “the simultaneous employment and expression of a    person’s ‘preferred self...
Some academic research-orienteddefinitions   “a persistent, positive affective-motivational    state of fulfilment in emp...
Some general definitional issues   The engagement of what? (e.g., cognition,    affect, behaviour)   With what? (e.g., t...
Some general definitional issues   Many definitions combine and confuse cause (e.g.,    feelings, cognitions) with outcom...
Why does it matter?   From a research perspective if researchers are    using different definitions, measures and    mean...
Muddled measurement: What areengagement measures reallymeasuring and is it anything new ordifferent?                      ...
Utrecht Work Engagement Scale(Schuafeli & Bakker, 2003)1.   At my work, I feel bursting with     9.   I feel happy when I ...
Redundancy in work engagement items(Newman & Harrison, 2008)                                       68                     ...
Redundancy in work engagement items(Newman & Harrison, 2008)                                       69                     ...
Some other points about UWES   Correlations with other measures (Schaufeli    & Bakker, 2010): Org. commitment (.45-    ....
Some other points about UWES   Is it different from burnout? (Cole et al., 2011): “…the    more recently developed UWES m...
Gallup Q12     1.     Do you know what is expected of            (coaching)            you at work? (role clarity)*       ...
Some points about Q12   .91 correlation at business unit level with job    satisfaction (Harter et al, 2002)   .22 corre...
7474
   “How can a concept so underdeveloped and    still emerging in scholarly research have so    little agreed-upon definit...
Management myths: On the enduringappeal of the happy-productive workerfallacy                                         76  ...
Job satisfaction does not cause jobperformance?   Nearly all (90%+) studies (including    engagement studies) are cross-s...
Job satisfaction does not cause jobperformance?   Reverse causality? “Job satisfaction [was]    predicted by return on as...
Feelings and performance   Feeling good not necessarily good for    performance   Feeling bad not necessarily bad for   ...
So why do people believe job satisfaction(and engagement) causes performance?   It’s neat and simple   Attitude surveys ...
Just how bad an idea is employeeengagement?   It depends which idea of engagement   What are bad ideas like?    – They a...
So what to do in general?   Continue to find out whether engagement is    anything new or distinct or actually predicts  ...
An evidence-based managementapproach to engagement (or anything)   What exactly is the problem engagement is going to fix...
So is engagement the answer?   We simply don’t know    – The concept is questionable    – The measures questionable    – ...
Thank youQuestions, thoughts, comments, criticisms?          r.b.briner@bath.ac.uk                                        ...
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PPMA National Service Debate at CIPD Conf 8 Nov 2012 - Rob Briner

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PPMA National Service Debate at CIPD Conf 8 Nov 2012 - Rob Briner

  1. 1. Engagement, motivation and the changing nature of the psychologicalcontract: A perspective on the evidence Rob B Briner CIPD / PPMA Private Public Service Debate – Manchester 08/11/12 1
  2. 2. Outline An evidence-based management perspective (not much directly about changing nature of PC and motivation) The employee engagement explosion: What’s going on? Multiple meanings: Why it matters if “engagement” can means anything vaguely related to employee feelings and motivation Muddled measurement: What are engagement measures really measuring and is it anything new or different? Management myths: On the enduring appeal of the happy-productive worker fallacy An evidence-based management approach to engagement (or anything) 2 2
  3. 3. What are your answers? And what isyour evidence?1. Does engagement mean anything new or different?2. Can engagement be reliably measured or assessed?3. Does in general engagement predict anything important?4. Can engagement be improved or increased?5. Does increasing engagement have any effect? 3 3
  4. 4. The underlying logic of EBMgt Practitioners are faced with decisions All practitioners have limited knowledge Our ability to process information is limited prone to biases Using techniques to gather more information, evaluate its quality and relevance, and to overcome such biases is likely to produce better decision processes and outcomes All practitioners already use some evidence to some extent – this is about using more of it more effectively 4 4
  5. 5. What do we mean by evidence andevidence-based? Evidence is any information that might be relevant to making a decision No one type or kind of evidence is necessarily better than another – depends on question Legal evidence metaphor (witnesses, statements, documents, forensic): Lots of many types presented but all needs to be judged for reliability and relevance 5 5
  6. 6. What is EBMgt? Evidence-based management is about making decisions through the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of four sources of information: (1) practitioner expertise and judgment, (2) evidence from the local context, (3) a critical evaluation of the best available research evidence, and (4) the perspectives of those people who might be affected by the decision. (Briner, Denyer, Rousseau, 2009) 6 6
  7. 7. What is evidence-based management? 7 7
  8. 8. What about gut and intuition? Gut and intuition is a form of evidence Arises when experts repeat the same or similar decisions many, many (100s of) times with immediate feedback from situation about effectiveness Unconscious pattern recognition Not typical of organizational decisions – Longer term – Non-programmed – Less simple or predictable outcomes 8 8
  9. 9. So what is the best evidence aboutemployee engagement? Depends on questions: Five key questions are 1. Does it mean anything new or different? 2. Can it be reliably measured or assessed? 3. Does in general it predict anything important? 4. Can it be improved or increased? 5. Does increasing it have any effect? For these questions the worst quality evidence is: (a) Anecdotes; (b) Expert opinions; (c) Case studies But these types of evidence may be extremely useful for other types of questions 9 9
  10. 10. What evidence do you know about EE that is notanecdotes, expert opinions, case studies… …and answers any of these questions? 1. Does it mean anything new or different? 2. Can it be reliably measured or assessed? 3. Does in general it predict anything important? 4. Can it be improved or increased? 5. Does increasing it have any effect? Nope, me neither (though some about 1 and 2) What might be better evidence? – Independent studies (not vested interests – and there are many) – Longitudinal (before and after) – Intervention studies 10 10
  11. 11. In other words… …for the most important practical questions about whether engagement is important, if it can be increased, and if increasing it does anything we have no publicly available high quality evidence that I can find 11 11
  12. 12. Why do we need it? What else is drivingdecisions? Biases in thinking and limitations of information processing Power of management fads and fashions The roles of consultants Power, politics and careers What about due diligence, Corporate Social Responsibility, etc? If you are not evidence- based you’re not accountable or ethical 12 12
  13. 13. Error and biases in problem-solving anddecision-makingA bat and ball cost one pound and ten pence.The bat costs a pound more than the ball. Howmuch does the ball cost? 13 13
  14. 14. Error and biases in problem-solving anddecision-makingIn a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patchdoubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to coverthe entire lake, how long would it take for the patch tocover half of the lake? 14 14
  15. 15. Error and biases in problem-solving anddecision-making – some examples Confirmation bias: Tendency to interpret and search for information consistent with one’s prior beliefs Escalating commitment: Tendency to keep investing in a course of action because considerable investment has already been made even if the action is failing Availability heuristic: Tendency to overestimate likelihood of events with greater availability in memory – “if you can think of it, it must be important” Anchoring effect: Tendency to rely too heavily or over-emphasize one piece of information (e.g., wine price lists, large reductions in price) Framing effect: Drawing different conclusions from exactly the same information presented in different ways (e.g., a ready meal that’s “85% fat free” or “only 15% fat”) Meta-cognitive bias: The belief we are immune from such biases 15 15
  16. 16. Visual perceptions too: Some classicoptical illusions 16 16
  17. 17. 1717
  18. 18. 1818
  19. 19. 1919
  20. 20. Management fads and fashions What are they? Some examples What do they do? 20 20
  21. 21. Management fashions (Carson et al,2000) are interventions that are… subject to social contagion because they are novel and perceived to be progressive, or preferable to existing fashions or are perceived to be innovative, rational, functional aimed at improving organizational performance either materially or symbolically through image enhancement motivated by a desire either to fix an existing problem or capitalize on opportunities for improvement considered to be of transitory value because, despite some acceptance no systematic research supporting their utility emerges 21 21
  22. 22. Examples Business process re-engineering Total quality management Quality circles Talent management Lean Outsourcing Employee Stock Ownership 22 22
  23. 23.  Pictures of book covers were here but removed to reduce size of file 23 23
  24. 24. Article titles: Miller et al (2004) Stage 1 - Ascendancy: Total Quality: Wave of the Future, Reengineering: It’s Totally Radical, Welcome to the Revolution, The Promise of Reengineering, How to Work Wonders, Completely. Stage 2 – Maturity: Reengineering: The Hot New Managing Tool, The Reengineering Rage, Warning: This Good Idea May Become a Fad, Reengineering: Beyond the Buzzword. Stage 3 – Decline: Ten Reasons Why TQM Doesnt Work, TQM: The Mystique, the Mistakes, The Hocus-Pocus of Reengineering, Why TQM Fails and What to Do About It. 24 24
  25. 25. How are fads a problem? (Donaldson &Hilmer, 1998) “The main problem…is their lack of any solid intellectual foundation. Implicit in each fad is a cause effect statement that is rarely made explicit and never properly supported.” “…management needs to evolve a sound body of knowledge and clear language that will assist members of the profession to reason cogently. Faddism is the enemy of this professionalism.” 25 25
  26. 26. 2626
  27. 27. Following fads and fashions is a humanurge In retrospect can we identify management fads? Why did we follow them? – Dangers of best practice – Dangers of benchmarking practices What happened to them? Kitchen equipment analogy… 27 27
  28. 28. 2828
  29. 29. How to detect a management fad — eightwarning signs (Miller et al, 2004)1. Simple, straightforward: A fad’s ideas are easy to communicate, comprehend, and reduce to a small number of factors, dimensions, or characteristics. Clear-cut distinctions, perfect contrasts, and ideal types are proposed. Simple solutions are suggested.2. Promising results: Fad auteurs are confidently didactic. There is no false humility or hedging. Fads promise results such as greater control and efficiency, more motivated and productive workers, more satisfied customers, or some other valued result.3. Universal: Fads propose solutions for everyone. Imparted truths are said to apply to almost all organizations, functions, tasks, individuals, or cultures. Fads claim enormous generality and universal relevance.4. Step-down capability: Fads have the capacity to be implemented in ritualistic and superficial ways. Recommendations can be implemented quickly and easily, often without having much effect on organizational practices. Recommendations involving large expenditures of resources or substantial redistributions of power can be avoided. 29 29
  30. 30. How to detect a management fad — eightwarning signs (Miller et al, 2004)5. In tune with zeitgeist: Fads resonate with the major trends or perceived business problems of the day. Respond to challenges that are broadly felt and openly discussed. Solutions are in tune with prevailing values.6. Novel, not radical: Fads are novel, not radical. They question existing assumptions, criticize widespread practices, and point to fresh new ways of doing things. However, this novelty is not so much a new discovery as a rediscovery and repackaging of older ideas, values, and approaches.7. Legitimacy via gurus and star examples: Fads are supported by tales of excellent companies and the status and prestige of gurus, not by solid empirical evidence. Stories of corporate heroes and organizational successes provide role models and suggest prestigious adherents, lending an aura of legitimacy to the ideas being espoused.8. Lively, entertaining: Fads are almost always presented in a way that can be described as concrete, articulate, bold, memorable and upbeat. They are filled with labels and buzzwords, lists and acronyms. Interesting anecdotes and corporate war stories abound. Descriptions are vivid and extreme, making fads fun to read about and listen to. 30 30
  31. 31. The role of consultants Translators of research evidence? Brokers or sellers of management fads and fashions? External objective advisors? Repositories of experience and wisdom? Fresh pair of eyes Neutral advisors Change agents? Ways of justifying and externalizing unpopular decisions? 31 31
  32. 32. Pfeffer & Sutton (2006) “…consultants and others who sell ideas and techniques are always rewarded for getting work, only sometimes rewarded for doing good work, and hardly ever rewarded for whether their advice actually enhances performance. The incentives are often even more perverse than that, because if a client company’s problems are only partly solved that leads to more work for the consulting firm.” 32 32
  33. 33. Power, politics and careers What are managers rewarded for? – Doing what works? But very few evaluations – Getting things done? – Making things happen? – Not rocking the boat? – Working hard? – Obeying orders? – Solving problems? – Meeting targets and goals? But who sets and why? – Making their bosses look good? Do very senior people get there by being evidence- based managers? 33 33
  34. 34. Huge incentives and punishments aroundconventional thinking, fads, fashions And there we see the power of any big managerial idea [fads]. It may be smart, like quality, or stupid, like conglomeration. Either way, if everybodys doing it, the pressure to do it too is immense. If it turns out to be smart, great. If it turns out to be stupid, well, you were in good company and most likely ended up no worse off than your competitors. Your companys board consists mostly of CEOs who were probably doing it at their companies. How mad can they get? 34 34
  35. 35. Huge incentives and punishments aroundconventional thinking, fads, fashions The true value of conventional management wisdom [current fashion] is not that its wise or dumb, but that its conventional. It makes one of the hardest jobs in the world, managing an organization, a little easier. By following it, managers everywhere see a way to drag their sorry behinds through another quarter without getting fired. And isnt that, really, what its all about? (Colvin, 2004, Fortune) 35 35
  36. 36. History shows we don’t sufficientlyquestion the powerful Many esteemed bodies, groups, individuals whose views we take as fact and tend not to question but they all get things very wrong – Groups of professionals and professional bodies – Individual experts – People with titles, qualifications, letters after their name – Gurus, ‘thought leaders’ All often have vested political and power interests in adopting and maintaining a position and asserting ‘facts’ 36 36
  37. 37. The employee engagement explosion: What’s going on? 37 37
  38. 38. Some background and context Kahn (1990): Deployment of preferred self under conditions of meaningfulness, safety, psychological availability Much practice activity (1999>): Gallup, Towers-Perrin, SHRM, CIPD, UK & Scottish Government reviews Maslach et al (1997, 2001): Opposite of burnout with high levels of activation and energy Bakker, Schaufeli et al (2002>): Work-related state of vigour, dedication, absorption Much bandwagoning, grand-standing, soul-searching Broader social and political trends in positive psychology, happiness agenda in politics Engagement side-steps politics and power (win-win) 38 38
  39. 39. Schaufeli & Bakker (2010) March 2008 and April 2012 4.15m 10,100 175,000 6,800 4.33m 16,900 254 116 391 145* 645 261 39 39
  40. 40. Number of Google searches by year Has satisfaction gone out of fashion to be replaced by employee engagement? 40 40
  41. 41. 4141
  42. 42. UK attitudes before and during the recession 2006to 2010 from British Social Attitudes Have these increased, decreased or not changed? – Job insecurity? – Changes in general happiness? – Satisfaction with job? – Satisfaction with work-life balance? 42 42
  43. 43. UK attitudes before and during the recession 2006to 2010 from British Social Attitudes What’s happened to – Job insecurity? • The proportion of workers saying it is ”very true” that their jobs are secure has fallen from 32% in to 23% – Changes in general happiness? • Little change in happiness scores – Satisfaction with job? • Increase from 6.9 to 7.3 (out of 10) – Satisfaction with work-life balance? • Increase from 6.0 to 6.3 (out of 10) 43 43
  44. 44. Where are we now?“Despite the proliferation in engagement relatedresearch…we believe that the notion of workengagement is at something of a crossroads.Although one path might involve the ongoingproliferation of relatively disconnected researchand practice using a diversity of models andmeasures, we believe the time is now ripe toagree some common ground, consolidate what weknow, and leverage from this firm foundationadditional research, which will redressfundamental issues that still require resolution.”(Schaufeli & Bakker, 2010) 44 44
  45. 45.  “Employee engagement is becoming a popular term among human resource management and development consultants, internal communications practitioners, and business conference presenters, but questions persist regarding whether engagement is just a passing fad.” (Shuck & Wollard, 2010) 45 45
  46. 46.  “Although seemingly voluminous, most of the existing literature is opinion, rather than evidence-based scholarship.” (Shuck & Wollard, 2010) 46 46
  47. 47. Old and new wines and bottles “The state engagement construct we have presented to this point in the review is thus a new blend of old wines with distinct characteristics and ‘feel’.” (Macey & Schneider, 2008) 47 47
  48. 48. Old and new wines and bottles “We agree with Macey and Schneider’s above quote that state engagement constitutes a ‘‘new blend of old wines,’’ but we disagree that the blend has ‘‘distinct characteristics and ‘feel’.’’ Indeed, the themes of employee vigor/energy, dedication, and absorption are veritable classics within organization science, and a relabeling of reshuffled items does not necessarily add conceptual or phenomenological clarity.” (Newman & Harrison, 2008) 48 48
  49. 49. Old and new wines and bottles “We also argue that the question ‘‘is engagement old wine in a new bottle?’’ is done and dusted. There is enough empirical evidence to debunk the notion that work engagement is nothing more than a repackaging of related constructs.” (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2010) 49 49
  50. 50. Old and new wines and bottles “…it is time to put to bed the notion that engagement is nothing more that some ‘‘old wine—new bottle’’ conceptual cocktail consisting of commitment, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviour, and turnover intentions.” (Bakker et al, 2011) 50 50
  51. 51. Work engagement: what we don’tknow yet (Bakker et al, 2011)1. How should we conceptualize engagement?2. How should we best measure engagement?3. Are there fluctuations in engagement across the working week?4. What is a ‘‘climate for engagement’’?5. Can leaders influence follower engagement?6. Is engagement contagious? 51 51
  52. 52. Work engagement: what we don’tknow yet (Bakker et al, 2011)7. Do engaged employees conserve their own work engagement?8. Is there a dark side of engagement?9. Is engagement related to health?10.What are effective interventions for engagement? 52 52
  53. 53. So what’s going on? Popular concept with at least two distinct fields – psychology and HR/consultancy Very little good quality evidence Little agreement on definition Little agreement about whether it’s a new idea or an old idea repackaged Numerous unanswered questions 53 53
  54. 54. Multiple meanings: Why it matters if“engagement” can means anythingvaguely related to employee feelingsand motivation 54 54
  55. 55. 5555
  56. 56. How many definitions? And does itmatter? (MacLeod & Clarke, 2009) “There is no one agreed definition of employee engagement – during the course of this review we have come across more than 50 definitions.” “… the concept of employee engagement needs to be more clearly defined […] or it needs to be abandoned.” (David Guest quoted in the review) “We have decided, however, that there is too much momentum and indeed excellent work being done under the banner of employee engagement to abandon the term.” 56 56
  57. 57.  “This lack of continuity [in definition] contributes to a deep misconception of the complexities around the concept.” (Shuck and Wollard, 2010) “if the meaning of engagement ‘‘bleeds’’ into so many other more developed constructs, then engagement just becomes an umbrella term for whatever one wants it to be.” (Saks, 2008) 57 57
  58. 58. Some practice-oriented definitions Gallup: “The term employee engagement refers to an individual’s involvement and satisfaction with as well as enthusiasm for work” Development Dimensions International: “Engagement has three dimensions: (1) cognitive – belief in and support for the goals and values of the organization; (2) affective – sense of belonging, pride and attachment to the organization; (3) behavioral – willingness to go the extra mile, intention to stay with the organization” 58 58
  59. 59. Some practice-oriented definitions Towers Perrin: “personal satisfaction and a sense of inspiration and affirmation they get from work and being a part of the organization” Mercer: “Employee engagement – also called ‘commitment’ or ‘motivation’ – refers to a psychological state where employees feel a vested interest in the company’s success and perform to a high standard that may exceed the stated requirements of the job” 59 59
  60. 60. Some practice-oriented definitions Conference Board: ‘‘employee engagement is a heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organisation, manager, or co‐workers that, in turn, influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work” Work Foundation: “employee engagement describes employees’ emotional and intellectual commitment to their organisation and its success. Engaged employees experience a compelling purpose and meaning in their work and give of their discrete effort to advance the organisation’s objectives.” 60 60
  61. 61. Some academic research-orienteddefinitions “the simultaneous employment and expression of a person’s ‘preferred self’ in task behaviors that promote connections to work and to others, personal presence, and active full role performances.” (Kahn, 1990) The opposite of burnout: Energy rather than exhaustion, involvement rather than cynicism and efficacy rather than professional inefficacy (Maslach & Leiter, 1997) “A distinct and unique construct that consists of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components that are associated with individual role performance” (Saks, 2006) 61 61
  62. 62. Some academic research-orienteddefinitions “a persistent, positive affective-motivational state of fulfilment in employees that is characterized by high levels of activation and pleasure” (Maslach et al., 2001) “a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption” (Schaufeli, et al, 2002) “an individual employee’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral state directed toward desired organizational outcomes.” (Shuck & Wollard, 2010) 62 62
  63. 63. Some general definitional issues The engagement of what? (e.g., cognition, affect, behaviour) With what? (e.g., task, organization, role) Through what processes? Over what timescales? (e.g., milliseconds, hours, months) With what effects? (e.g., task performance, contextual performance, costs and benefits, on whom or what?) 63 63
  64. 64. Some general definitional issues Many definitions combine and confuse cause (e.g., feelings, cognitions) with outcomes (performance, extra mile) Engagement is thus defined as co-occurring positive affect or attitudes and high levels of performance From this perspective it is completely circular to say engagement is a cause of performance: Engagement (positive feelings and high performance) causes high performance? “…many HR consultants avoid defining the term, instead referring only to its presumed positive consequences.” (Macey & Schneider, 2008) 64 64
  65. 65. Why does it matter? From a research perspective if researchers are using different definitions, measures and meaning then there is no accumulation of knowledge or understanding From a practice perspective measures and interventions remain vague, unfocussed, impossible to evaluate or compare across organizations It remains an ‘all things to all people’ unchallengeable motherhood and apple pie phenomenon 65 65
  66. 66. Muddled measurement: What areengagement measures reallymeasuring and is it anything new ordifferent? 66 66
  67. 67. Utrecht Work Engagement Scale(Schuafeli & Bakker, 2003)1. At my work, I feel bursting with 9. I feel happy when I am working energy. (VI1) intensely. (AB3)2. I find the work that I do full of 10. I am proud of the work that I do. meaning and purpose. (DE1) (DE4)3. Time flies when I am working. 11. I am immersed in my work. (AB4) (AB1) 12. I can continue working for very long4. At my job, I feel strong and periods at a time. (VI4) vigorous. (VI2) 13. To me, my job is challenging. (DE5)5. I am enthusiastic about my job. 14. I get carried away when I am (DE2) working. (AB5)6. When I am working, I forget 15. At my job, I am very resilient, everything else around me. (AB2) mentally. (VI5)7. My job inspires me. (DE3) 16. It is difficult to detach myself from8. When I get up in the morning, I feel my job. (AB6) like going to work. (VI3) 17. At my work, I always persevere, even when things do not go well. (VI6) 67 67
  68. 68. Redundancy in work engagement items(Newman & Harrison, 2008) 68 68
  69. 69. Redundancy in work engagement items(Newman & Harrison, 2008) 69 69
  70. 70. Some other points about UWES Correlations with other measures (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2010): Org. commitment (.45- .55); Job involvement (.35); Job satisfaction (?); Burnout (.40=.60) 70 70
  71. 71. Some other points about UWES Is it different from burnout? (Cole et al., 2011): “…the more recently developed UWES may tap a well-known construct (burnout - cynicism, exhaustion, inefficiency) under a new label (engagement – absorption, dedication, vigour).” – - “…high correlations (…–.85 to –.79) suggest that burnout-inefficacy is almost interchangeable with all three constituent dimensions of engagement.” – “…our analyses revealed that the dimensions underlying burnout and engagement yielded highly similar (albeit opposite) patterns of correlations with antecedent and outcome correlates…” – “…controlling for the burnout dimensions substantially reduced the effect sizes associated with the dimensions underlying engagement (seven of nine possible relationships no longer reached statistical significance…” 71 71
  72. 72. Gallup Q12 1. Do you know what is expected of (coaching) you at work? (role clarity)* 7. At work, do your opinions seem to 2. Do you have the materials and count? (voice) equipment you need to do your work right? (material resources) 8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is 3. At work, do you have the important? (meaningfulness) opportunity to do what you do best every day? (opportunity for skill 9. Are your associates (fellow development) employees) committed to doing quality work? (quality culture) 4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for 10. Do you have a best friend at work? doing good work? (social support, (social support) positive feedback) 11. In the last six months, has someone 5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work talked to you about your at work, seem to care about you as progress? (feedback) a person? (supervisor support) 12. In the last year, have you had 6. Is there someone at work who opportunities at work to learn and encourages your development? grow? (learning opportunities)*descriptors added by Schaufeli & Bakker (2010) 72 72
  73. 73. Some points about Q12 .91 correlation at business unit level with job satisfaction (Harter et al, 2002) .22 correlation with performance at business unit level – same as job satisfaction (Harter et al, 2002) > .8 correlation with org commitment and UWES at individual level (Le et al., 2007) 73 73
  74. 74. 7474
  75. 75.  “How can a concept so underdeveloped and still emerging in scholarly research have so little agreed-upon definition and have so few validated measures yet so widely accepted in application and practice as to be named the keystone to business success?” (Shuck & Reio, 2011) 75 75
  76. 76. Management myths: On the enduringappeal of the happy-productive workerfallacy 76 76
  77. 77. Job satisfaction does not cause jobperformance? Nearly all (90%+) studies (including engagement studies) are cross-sectional and provide no evidence about causality These data show correlation around .20 (96% of variance in performance not explained by job satisfaction) Longitudinal studies (controlling for performance at Time 1) tend to show even weaker associations and possible reverse causality 77 77
  78. 78. Job satisfaction does not cause jobperformance? Reverse causality? “Job satisfaction [was] predicted by return on assets and earnings per share more strongly than the reverse.” (Schneider et al., 2003) Spurious correlation? Third variables affect both satisfaction and performance. “…the satisfaction–performance relationship is largely spurious…” much reduced or disappears after controlling for personality, self-esteem, etc (Bowling, 2007) 78 78
  79. 79. Feelings and performance Feeling good not necessarily good for performance Feeling bad not necessarily bad for performance It depends on: – the specific feeling state – the dynamics and combination of feeling states – what kind of performance or behaviour 79 79
  80. 80. So why do people believe job satisfaction(and engagement) causes performance? It’s neat and simple Attitude surveys simple managerial tool even though generally attitudes poor predictors of behaviours and difficult to change Seems to fit with daily observations (though probably picking up flexibility and citizenship behaviours rather than task performance) and short-term level of analysis Satisfied workers more compliant and malleable Managers prefer to manage such workers Tells a win-win story which avoids power and politics 80 80
  81. 81. Just how bad an idea is employeeengagement? It depends which idea of engagement What are bad ideas like? – They are beyond criticism: Motherhood and apple pie – They inhibit rather than increase analysis – They encourage a proliferation of multiple and inconsistent definitions – Claim great novelty when they aren’t that new – Re-present ideas that have already been shown to be more-or-less myths 81 81
  82. 82. So what to do in general? Continue to find out whether engagement is anything new or distinct or actually predicts performance Move away from a mechanical lever-pulling view of engagement as cause of performance Even if engagement doesn’t predict performance it may be a good thing – the business case argument is morally bankrupt Be clear, precise and specific about what we’re talking about – engagement sounds like everything and anything to do with managing people 82 82
  83. 83. An evidence-based managementapproach to engagement (or anything) What exactly is the problem engagement is going to fix? How do you know it’s a problem? – Internal evidence, stakeholders, management expertise How do you know that in principle engagement will fix the problem – External (good quality) evidence (not expert opinion, anecdotes, star case studies) – Critical thinking and healthy scepticism If you know there’s a problem what other solutions may fix the problem as well or more effectively or more cheaply There is often a bias to taking action and fixing the problem but without understanding if there’s a problem and what it is Don’t be swayed by fads and fashions – do what is most likely to work based by considering the best available evidence 83 83
  84. 84. So is engagement the answer? We simply don’t know – The concept is questionable – The measures questionable – No good quality evidence that engagement can be increased – No good quality evidence that increasing engagement – But this may change as more evidence becomes available (if its good quality – not anecdotes, star case studies or expert opinion) 84 84
  85. 85. Thank youQuestions, thoughts, comments, criticisms? r.b.briner@bath.ac.uk 85 85

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