The engagement factor: building a high‐commitment organization in a low‐commitment world

J. Lee Whittington (Professor of Managementat the College of Business, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas, USA)
Timothy J. Galpin (Associate Professor of Management, at the College of Business, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas, USA)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Publication date: 7 September 2010

Abstract

Purpose

Attracting and retaining a talented work force is a strategic imperative. Doing so requires organizations to create an overall context through a set of macro‐level organizational practices we refer to as the HR value chain. However, this organizational context must be supplemented at the micro level through leader behavior, job characteristics, and challenging goals. An evidence‐based integrative model of organizational practices is developed that will lead to a high level of employee engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper addresses several key questions: Do engaged employees perform better than those that are not engaged? How should companies best organize their HR processes at a firm‐wide level to foster employee engagement? What should companies do at an employee level to foster engagement? What is the role of employee to manager trust in employee engagement? A review and summary of existing empirical literature from the areas of employee engagement, human resources, strategy, and leadership was assembled to answer these questions and provide an evidenced‐based set of prescriptions for practicing managers seeking to enhance employee engagement.

Findings

The evidence presented supports seven key engagement principles characterized by: an integrated HR value chain; full‐range leader behaviors incorporating contingent reward and transformational behaviors; job enrichment through variety, significance, and task identity; challenging and specific performance goals; in‐role job performance; extra‐role performance behaviors; and employee trust in their leader.

Originality/value

The content of the paper is useful to executives and managers in firms of various sizes and across industries by: presenting empirically‐based evidence that engaged employees perform better than those that are not engaged; providing pragmatic recommendations regarding how to establish firm‐wide human resources process that foster workforce engagement; providing practical recommendations regarding what companies should do at an employee level to foster engagement; explaining the role of employee to manager trust in employee engagement; providing a bridge across the often decried gap between academic research and the practice of management.

Keywords

Citation

Lee Whittington, J. and Galpin, T. (2010), "The engagement factor: building a high‐commitment organization in a low‐commitment world", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 14-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/02756661011076282

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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