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Managing performance through employee attributes: implications for employee engagement

Pia Lappalainen (Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Minna Saunila (LUT University, Lahti, Finland)
Juhani Ukko (LUT University, Lahti, Finland)
Tero Rantala (LUT University, Lahti, Finland)
Hannu Rantanen (LUT University, Lahti, Finland)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 22 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the connection between performance management and employee engagement. More specifically, the authors address shortcomings in prior literature where employee performance has been controlled narrowly as cognitive task accomplishment. Accumulating evidence shows, however, that such performance-mediating factors as employee engagement constitute critical antecedents of employee and organizational performance. They can most effectively be influenced by attending sensitively to employees’ individual differences, which are ultimately driven by motifs and dispositions.


The study takes a quantitative approach to exploring predictors of employee engagement. The analysis is based on a sample of 503 online survey respondents from knowledge-intensive organizations.


The results indicate that employee engagement is driven more by employees’ inherent attributes than environmental factors. The analysis refuted the connection between engagement and social orientation, self-regulation and conscientiousness. Instead, the factors associating with employee engagement were analytical thinking, extroversion, systems thinking, assertiveness and leadership.

Practical implications

In this paper, the authors put forth a novel conceptual model of performance management, introducing new and evidence-based foci for effective people management that expand task performance to contextual performance and supplement quantifying approaches to performance control with the qualifying methodology.


Departing from the previously dominating frameworks of performance management that focused on task performance, this work extends to contextual performance and considers also employees’ psychological traits.



Lappalainen, P., Saunila, M., Ukko, J., Rantala, T. and Rantanen, H. (2019), "Managing performance through employee attributes: implications for employee engagement", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 69 No. 9, pp. 2119-2137.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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