Gupta College of Business Faculty Research Helps Leaders Increase Employee Engagement
Date published: Sept. 18, 2017
Today’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
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
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
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.