Clarifying the concept of work engagement
Thomas, Christopher Howell
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Work engagement has been used to describe the extent to which employees devote themselves and their full energies to work related endeavors. Although engagement is receiving much attention in the popular press, scholarly work has lagged behind. Conceptual and operational inconsistencies have plagued academic research, and current findings are somewhat equivocal. Following a review of extant literature, this study offers an operational definition of work engagement as a situation-activated psychological state, and a new measurement scale is developed. Next, a theoretical framework of antecedents and outcomes is developed and tested. Meaningful work and service climate were positively associated with individual levels of engagement. Furthermore, perceptions of availability mediated these relationships. Engaged workers were more committed to the organization, and performed required and discretionary work duties more frequently than their less engaged coworkers. In addition, engaged workers were more likely to be innovative in how they performed their work. Psychological safety and managerial support moderated the effects of engagement on organizational commitment, task performance, and contextual performance. Implications for both organizational research and managerial practice are discussed, and directions for future work are offered.