Becoming engaged : situating employee engagement in a changing work context

Wei, Qi and Yu, Ai (2019) Becoming engaged : situating employee engagement in a changing work context. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2019 : Building and Sustaining High Performance Organisations in Uncertain Times : Challenges and Opportunities; 03 - 05 Sep 2019, Birmingham, U.K.. (In Press)

Abstract

As a human resource management (HRM) tool, Employee Engagement (EE) has been advocated for its role in increasing competitive advantage. However, this approach focuses primarily on leveraging outcomes toward performance without considering conditions that nurture performance. It thus steers away from Kahn’s original conception of EE and creates problems when work is situated in a changing context. Conceptualising “engagement as becoming practice”, this paper provides a processual lens that extends the “engagement of condition” literature. By examining the implementation of an EE initiative in one organisation over 30 months, we demonstrate that both employer and employees can benefit from the heightened experience of EE when decision-making concerning the boundaries, competency measures and material configurations of work is allowed for. We therefore suggest that the academic rigour around EE is better directed towards understanding its context of implementation rather than proving the impact of EE on performance at a general level.

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