as a concept came into the academic literature through the work of Kahn (1990),
where he talks of personal engagement (which involves a particular behaviour
that individual bring to work and keeps them connected to the job) and
disengagement (which involves getting disconnected from work). Since then the
term has become very popular in organizations especially in the department of
HR (Truss, et al., 2013). To fully understand the meaning of employee
engagement, there has to be a clear definition of what it stands for.
deciding on a one-fit-all definition for the term engagement has not been an
easy task for scholars.So there are different definitions to the term.
Engagement as defined by Kahn, (1990, p.700) is “the simultaneous employment
and expression of a person’s ‘preferred self’ in the task behaviours that
promote connections to work and to others, personal presence (physical,
cognitive and emotional) and active full performance”. For Schaufeli, et al. (2002, p.74), they
defined engagement as “a positive fulfilling work related state of mind that is
characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption”. Vigor is exemplified by a
willingnessto work, it also means exerting one’s energy into the given job,
dedication is showed in the commitment an employee is ready to give to the job
even in the face of challenges (this form of dedication can be said to give the
employee a sense of achievement) and lastly, absorption has to do with being
fully engrossed in the job.
definition views employee engagement as “a high level of energy and a strong
identification with one’s work”(Bakker, et al., 2008, p.189). Meanwhile, MacLeod and Clarke (2009,p.9 cited in Truss
et al 2013, p.2659), viewed engagement as “a workplace approach designed to
ensure that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to
organizational success and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense
of well-being”. This definition suggests a broader scope for the term
engagement because it argues that employees should be able to also improve
their own well-being and not only organisational goals. Furthermore, employee
engagement can also be defined as “an individual’s sense of purpose and focused
energy, evident to others in the display of personal initiative, adaptability,
effort and persistence directed toward organizational goals” (Macey, et al.,
Disengagement and Burnout
has shown that disengagement from work comes as a result of burnout (Bakker,
Demerouti and Verbeke, 2004). Also Practitioners have identified engagement and
burnout as opposite ends of a continuum (Cole, et al., 2012).
burnout is best understood with these three terms: exhaustion, cynicism and
inefficacy (Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter, 2001). Exhaustion is an extreme form
of physical or mental weariness that has been prolonged over a period of time.
Cynicism results when an individual gradually begins to distance him or herselffrom
task and even co-workers and inefficacy shows feelings of lack of
accomplishment, incompetence and even failure in one’s job (Demerouti, et al.,
2003; Bakker, Demerouti and Verbeke, 2004).
studies of Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter, (2001), described burnout as a
gradual process starting with emotional exhaustion followed by the involvement
of cynicism and finally the feeling of inefficacy. Meanwhile, thework of Cole,
et al. (2012), argues that individuals on starting a job, start with an engaged
attitude, but as time passes, burnout sets in.
Disengagement results from employee distancing
himself from work. This disengagement can be seen in the emotions and
behaviours of the employee (Bakker, Demerouti and Verbeke, 2004). According to
Swarnalatha and Prasanna (2013), they identified that the opposite of an
engaged employee is a zombie employee. This zombie employee is so disengaged
from his duties, specializes in lowering the moral of others and is a burden
financially to the organisation. Disengaged employees are most often uncoupled
from their roles, they do not have any attachment to their work as compared to
engaged employees who have physical, cognitive and emotional attachment to
their work (Truss, et al., 2013).
Reference: UYIOSA EFE-IGUODALA