Enhancing Employee Engagement

Gupta College of Business Faculty Research Helps Leaders Increase Employee Engagement

 Date published: Sept. 18, 2017

Enhancing Employee EngagementToday’s companies have a very expensive problem on their hands: up to one-third of their employees may not be engaged in their work. From passively “checked out” to counterproductive workplace habits, some experts estimate that low employee engagement levels account for a loss of up to $605 billion annually.

Research by J. Lee Whittington, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Dallas, Sri Beldona, Ph.D., and Doctor of Business Administration candidates Simone Meskelis and Enoch Asare, provides insights to reverse this trend. In a first-of-its-kind publication, Enhancing Employee Engagement: An Evidence-Based Approach provides a solution-oriented guide for leaders and managers to increase employee engagement within their organizations.

Based on decades of experience in leadership and organization behavior, Whittington and his team were inspired by a desire to provide practical solutions for managers based on years of empirical research.

“We like to focus on stuff that works,” said Whittington. “Over the years we’ve learned that transformational leadership, job enrichment and performance management all work, but now we’ve closely studied all these areas so we have a more complete answer to how they work. This new understanding is the subject of this book.”

During their research, Whittington and his colleagues also discovered other, unexpected factors that contributed to employee engagement, including the concept of meaningfulness.

“The role of meaningful work in the engagement process was the most surprising outcome of this research,” said Whittington. “The experience of meaningfulness at work is created through transformational leaders who connect an employee’s task to the strategic purpose of the organization. In addition, employees experience meaningfulness in their work when their jobs provide autonomy and they have a sense of personal responsibility for their contributions.”

In addition to meaningfulness, Whittington and his colleagues examined other macro and micro factors that contribute to engagement at work in a cross-cultural context. Their insights provide action-oriented practices for leaders and managers across any industry.

Oxford University professor Timothy Galpin applauds this research for providing “a clear road map and set of actions that management can take in both the short- and long-term to improve employee engagement at their organizations.”

Moving forward, Whittington and his team plan to continue their research by exploring the roles other factors play in impacting employees’ engagement levels. “We have seen that many employees bring meaning to their work by integrating their faith or spirituality into their approach to work. We want to further our understanding of the roles personalities and other individual differences contribute to the level of employee engagement.”


About the authors:

J. Lee Whittington is a professor of management in the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. He focuses his teaching, research and consulting in the areas of leadership, organizational behavior and spiritual leadership. He is the author of Biblical Perspectives on Leadership and Organizations and co-author of Leading the Sustainable Organization with Tim Galpin and Greg Bell.

Simone Meskelis is a Doctor of Business Administration candidate at the University of Dallas. Prior to starting the DBA program, she worked as an associate professor at Fundação Dom Cabral, Brazil.

Enoch Asare is a Doctor of Business Administration candidate at the University of Dallas. He is also the senior reporting specialist in Luminant Power, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings.

Sri Beldona is a professor of management at the University of Dallas. His research papers have appeared in various international journals, and he is also a regular participant in numerous international conferences.

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