Employee engagement and its potential influence on selected performance metrics - A case study

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Corporate Communication
The current thesis has been written as an answer to two developments: recent rise in popularity of the concept of ‘employee engagement’, and lack of agreement, among academics, on its very nature or even existence. It attempts to examine employee engagement’s essence, antecedents, and consequences. Accordingly, it is constructed in a somewhat hierarchical manner. It includes extensive literature review, qualitative study, and quantitative research. Literature review consists of two parts. First part introduces central assumptions of employee engagement and the job demands–resources (JD-R) model. The second part addresses employee engagement’s potential positive consequences. It explores such outcomes as financial results, turnover, safety, proactive behavior, task performance, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and absenteeism. Qualitative research examines how employee engagement is perceived ‘in practice’, and attempts to justify the very application of absence rates in the following quantitative study. Finally, quantitative part tests the extent to what employee engagement may affect the absences. The thesis uses triangulation as a methodological approach, ergo both qualitative and quantitative methods. In the qualitative part, information was gathered through extensive individual interviews and focus groups, at the case company. In the quantitative part, regression and statistical equation model (SEM) were employed to calculate the relationship between the total amount of sick time and the results of the employee engagement index, at the case company. As a result, based on the available literature, the thesis introduces a discrete employee engagement definition and compares it against own qualitative data. It corroborates the job demands-resources (JD-R) framework, as a useful model to study employee engagement antecedents. It finds a negative association between employee engagement index and absence rates. It also confirms a conditional suitability of absence rates and safety outcomes as performance metrics with relation to employee engagement, at the case company. Employee engagement key features appear to be largely applicable in the case company. However, due to company’s specific features (e.g. safety needs) some of the construct’s elements may not be transferable into other working environments. Hence, the current thesis advocates that while it is advisable for an organization to take into account available academic and commercial employee engagement interpretations, it may also be worthwhile to look for an ‘own’ version of the concept.
Thesis advisor
Eräranta, Kirsi
employee engagement, job demands-resources model (JD-R), absence rates, safety outcomes, business performance
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