SOTA Review

Defining engagement and its link to productivity. What does the HRM literature tell us? SOTA No 13

Despite its popularity and arguments that it can make a significant contribution to productivity, the concept of ‘engagement’ is not clearly defined and there is limited high quality, methodologically rigorous research on the links between employee engagement and productivity. This review clarifies and compares the concepts of work and employee engagement and evaluates the evidence from HRM literature about their links with organisational performance outcomes. There is evidence that work engagement has a positive effect on the performance of individual employees. However, while it is reasonable to assume that this may lead to improved organisational outcomes, robust evidence is absent. The evidence of a causal relationship between organisational/employee engagement and improved organisational productivity is also limited and comes from case studies. More rigorous studies are needed to demonstrate and understand the links between engagement and organisational outcomes.

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