Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine an employee's unique experience of being engaged in their work. Design/methodology/approach – Following Yin's case study design method, researchers collected documents, conducted semi‐structured interviews and recorded observations at a large multinational service corporation ranked as one of the best places to work. Post data collection, content analysis is used to interpret engagement efforts and experiences. Work by Kahn and Maslow are integrated as conceptual frameworks. Findings – Post analysis, three themes emerged: relationship development and attachment to co‐workers, workplace climate and opportunities for learning. Findings highlighted the development of relationships in the workplace, the importance of an employee's direct manager and their role in shaping organizational culture and the critical role of learning in an engaged employee's interpretation of their work. Scaffolding and discussion of an emergent model is provided. Research limitations/implications – Three propositions for human resource development (HRD) research and practice are presented: first, environment and person interact to create engagement or disengagement; second, an employee's manager plays a critical role in developing engagement; and third, personality can effect engagement, however, everyone can engage. An integrated model is proposed as a synthesis of findings providing HRD researchers and practitioner's opportunity to re‐examine current engagement efforts. Specific action steps are outlined to spur further theory building and organizational practice. Originality/value – The objective of the emergent model is to provide researchers and practitioners a new framework to consider, grounded in both early and contemporary theories of engagement. The emergent model could serve as the basis for new strategies and structures related to engagement development and could shed new light on how employees interpret the experience of engagement in work. This research is the first known qualitative study of employee engagement in the HRD literature, second only to the original qualitative research by Kahn.
Journal of European Industrial Training – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 10, 2011
Keywords: Employee involvement; Human resource development; Qualitative research; Organizational performance
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