Employee Engagement and Perceived Organizational Support Research

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Chapter 1 – Introduction

1.1    Research background

Over the past few years, employee engagement has received a lot of attention, especially in the popular press and consulting firms. It is often touted as the key to the success and competitiveness of the organization (Gruman, Saks, 2011). This research aims to look at employee engagement as the critical factor that support enterprises towards success. Consider the relationship between employer and employee, how is the relationship could affect the enterprise. By developing the employee engagement within organizations to support progress towards organizational excellence and sustainable business excellence. This research is going to completed by reviewing literature and conducting the primary research from one of the Bank of Communications in Hunan, China.

With the social progress and development, human daily activities have changed a lot, while the management activities of enterprises or organizations have also been huge impact, the progress of economic globalization process, enterprises or organizations are no longer face a single economic environment, instead, they face global complex and volatile economic environment. In this complex and volatile business environment, managers in order to achieve business or organizational development goals need to rely on the joint efforts of all members of the enterprise, coordination of various relationships to achieve the desired objectives of enterprises and the level of performance. In the face of the rapid development of modern society, the core of stand in market for a long time of enterprises is human resources, which also is an important guarantee to maintain sustainable development in the fierce market competition.

Employees, making almost 100% of any company’s workforce, plays an integral role within any enterprise of which none can function properly without. They are not only the backbone to an enterprise but are a vital component to any effective workings to a corporation. Therefore, the process to provide scientific guidance and cultivate employees become to the critical factor of enterprise in order to be competitive and stand on the market, and the implementation of performance system is the direct embodiment of corporate management philosophy. In the real world, many good enterprises are good at digging the potential of employees, improve their performance level, thereby achieving the strategic objectives of the enterprises. European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model is a business excellence model recognizes a variety of approaches to achieving business excellence. However, EFQM also assumes that, whether measured from performance, employees, customers, or from a social point of view, the premise of excellence must be, under strong leadership, strategic decision-making through interpersonal cooperation, resources and processes to be implemented. For an enterprise to achieve business excellence they will need to ensure high productivity, work efficiency, innovation, customer satisfaction and profits all of which requires a very actively invested labour force that is focused on working towards the corporation’s goal. Therefore, it is only nature for any organization to have a highly energized and engaged taskforce who are enthusiastic about their work as much as possible as employees can influence customer loyalty, productivity and employee turn over – all of which will affect business profitability.

Employee job satisfaction has been regarded as a “barometer” to measure business performance, that the level of employee satisfaction can directly affect the business performance. Whether it is academic researchers or business managers, are beginning to focus on how to improve employee job satisfaction. They believe that job satisfaction is high, the performance of the organization will be a corresponding increase. At the same time, many enterprises began to use employee satisfaction survey tools to investigate the satisfaction of employees within the enterprise. However, with the deepening of research, some scholars ‘research results began to question whether employee job satisfaction has a direct impact on business performance. After years of research, American behavior scientists Brayfield and Crock (1955) believe that there is no necessary connection between employees’ attitudes and organizational performance. Job satisfaction is only a statement of the psychological feelings of employees, and can not test their actual performance in the work, high satisfaction of the employees does not always promote the improvement of business performance, neither improve their job involvement and commitment.

Under normal circumstances, there are two main ways to enhance employee engagement: from the perspective of the employees, to improve their work input and intrinsic motivation; from the perspective of the enterprise, to enhance the scientific training of employees. Based on this background, the concept of perceived organizational support (POS) is drawn out. The responsibility of the organization between employees and enterprises gains more attention, so that enterprises to gradually enhance the employee engagement through this way. Refer to some of the key research that is relevant, POS is positive correlated to employee engagement. Therefore, when employees can feel the organization’s support for themselves, employees will voluntarily invest more effort to feed back the organization, and thus job performance has also been improved.

Throughout the international and domestic large enterprises or organizations, are beginning to improve the employee engagement. At present, the research on employee engagement is more from the empirical research of some scholars (such as Robinson et al, Kahn, Gatenby et al) and the research of various famous consulting firms (such as Gallup, Hewitt, Towers Perrin). It can be found in many research results that high level of employee engagement will result high level of job performance. By using Gallup data from 23910 business units to compare organisations in the top and bottom quartile of engagement, Harter et al. (2006) concludes that firms in the top quartile of engagement scores had 12% higher profitability and 18% higher productivity. Another well-known consulting firm, Hewitt Consulting, conducted the best employer survey of more than 1,500 companies in the world in 2009. From the survey, it found that enterprises represented by Hewitt’s best employers exceed 65% of employee engagement, and have better operating results. Oppositely, enterprises with the degree of engagement less than 45% began to decline in their business performance. In the survey of employee engagement in China, although the survey data of several consulting firms are different, they clearly show that the scoring index of employee engagement in China is not only much lower than that of developed countries in Europe and the United States, but also lower than some neighbouring Asian countries. In June of 2008, Towers Perrin’s latest Global Human Resource Research shows that 8% of Chinese employees are considered highly engaged and willing to make more contributions to their businesses; 25% of employees are considered disengaged, and only 60% of them intend to stay in the current business.

Faced with this situation, more and more Chinese enterprises, research institutions and consulting companies began to pay attention to employee engagement. How to improve employee engagement, improve business performance, while retaining the core employees and to attract external talents are significant issues that mangers concerns.

1.2    Aim of the research

Dr. George Gallup, the famous American social scientist, first proposed the concept of employee engagement. And he introduced the concept of engagement into business consulting activities. Through his internationally renowned survey and consulting firm, Gallup Consulting company for more than 70 years of research, established the Gallup path model. With the passage of time, more and more scholars in the theory have begun to pay attention to the research of employee engagement. In addition, to prove employee engagement as a critical factor in the development of excellence within enterprises and support progress towards organizational excellence.

Understanding the concept of employee engagement correctly, master the essence of employee engagement, is conducive to enterprises toward business excellence. This paper hopes that through the analyse of a large number of domestic and foreign research literature, combine the relevant theories and practical surveys proposed by domestic and foreign experts to make some useful suggestions for Chinese enterprises to improve employee engagement and the level of business excellence. The purpose of this paper is to define the concept of employee engagement, POS and business excellence through the collation and analysis of the literature and connecting them. On the basis of the definition of employee engagement, POS, and the literature review, making connection with business excellence models, design an appropriate survey. Then, analyse the data obtained from the questionnaire, the structural dimension and the model of engagement. Last, using the findings of the case study to give suggestion to cultivate and improve the employee engagement to ensure enterprises to improve the performance and achieve business excellence.

1.3    Objective and methodology

Table 1: List of Objectives and Corresponding Methodologies

Objectives Methodologies
1 To identify the concept of employee engagement and application to achieve business excellence. The literature review identifies and highlights the concepts of employee engagement and applications to achieve business excellence.
2 To identify the concept of POS and application to improve employee engagement. The literature review identifies and highlights the concept of POS and application to improve employee engagement.
3 To identify the concept of business excellence models. The literature review identifies and highlights the concept of business excellence models.
4 To explore the relationship between engagement and POS and their linkages to business excellence models. The literature reviews the connection between engagement and POS and link to business excellence models.
5 To analyze the relationship between engagement, POS and business excellence. Outline analysis of the literature findings to build a conceptual framework.
6 To explore the trend and problems of employee engagement in Chinese context. Analysis of findings from the literature review to design an appropriate questionnaire survey.
7 To verify the connection between employee engagement and POS and their application to achieve business excellence within Chinese context. Findings from questionnaire survey.
8 To give practical recommendations for improving the performance and achieving business excellence. Analysis of findings from questionnaire survey.

1.4    Research questions

  1. To what extent employee engagement can be a critical factor to business excellence?
  2. To what extent is POS can improve employee engagement?
  3. How are the theories of employee engagement and POS applied to reality in order to improve and achieve a higher level of business excellence?

1.5    Hypothesis

Social exchange theory is the theoretical basis of POS. It is reflected in the exchange process, employees in the work of authorization, resources and generous salaries and benefits and corporate values, while employees agree with the organization’s strategic objectives, with good attitude of work and put the corresponding time, energy into the work as a return. And the exchange between the two through the work of the employee vitality, dedication and concentrate to the work. These three factors are also the theoretical basis for employee engagement. Below are the assumptions according to present study.

  1. There is a positive correlation between the basic theory of employee engagement and its application to achieve a level of business excellence.
  2. There is a positive correlation between the basic theory of POS and its application to achieve a level of business excellence.
  3. There is a positive relationship between the basic theory of employee engagement and the basic theory of POS.
  4. There is a positive relationship between fundamental concepts of employee engagement, POS and their application to achieve a level of business excellence.

1.6    Content overview

This dissertation is structured as follow:

Chapter 1: The introduction of this research study consist of the research background, aim of research, objective and methodology, research questions and hypothesis. This chapter is ended with an overview of the main contents of the dissertation.

Chapter 2: The literature review chapter begins POS, meaning of POS, theories of POS, and existing uses of POS. Follow by employee engagement, definition of engagement, hypotheses of employee engagement, and existing uses of employee engagement. Moreover, this section will investigate correlation between POS and employee engagement. Business excellence will be the last part of this chapter which includes definition of business excellence, EFQM excellence model.

Chapter 3: This chapter presents the research design. Includes the type of research adopted, research approach used, data collection techniques employed and so on. The process of questionnaire to be decided. Provides the information to create business model.

Chapter 4: This chapter is empirical findings and analysis that contains investigation of surveys to know the relationship between engagement, POS and business excellence.

Chapter 5: This chapter presents conclusions of the research study, fulfilling the objectives listed in chapter 1. The practical suggestion will be given to sub branch of Bank of Communications in Hunan. The best practices of representative engagement and POS and their application to achieve business excellence.

Chapter 2 – Literature Review

The object of management is people. Since the management thought was found, the researchers are constantly concerned about the incentive effect that management methods motivate people. In the early Western management thought are systematically described by scholars. The most important British economists Adam Smith, in his book “Wealth of Nations (1776)” put forward the hypothesis of “economic man”. He believes that people are irrational, with egoistic purpose, denied the initiative, consciousness. With the development of society, scholars use behavioural scientific knowledge to research about employee. Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne experiments propose that management with the employee-centred approach is better than job-centred. More than use of material means, through interpersonal relationships and other means to motivate employee be proactive with work. It is because of changes in human resource management, people began to focus on the positive behaviour of employees, such as engaged behaviour.

2.1    Perceived organizational support

2.1.1 Meaning and theories of POS

For a long time, corporate theory researchers use social exchange theory to explain the relationship between employees and enterprises. Blau (1964) describes social exchange as an unspecified obligation, that is, the purpose of the extra effort of the employee is to get the return from firm, whose essence is reciprocity. Social exchange theory thinks the relationship between people is essentially a social exchange. Therefore, the organization and employees also have a social exchange, including the two elements exchange, material and emotional. On the one hand, the organization in the process of carrying out its business strategy, require to provide conditions to meet the material and emotional needs of employees; on the other hand, employees obtain the material and emotional satisfaction from the enterprise, need to make effort to return the organization in order to complete the purpose of exchange. The principle of reciprocity refers to: when the organization meets the needs of employees, employees obtains material and spiritual support in the organization and willing to make effort in organization, take the initiative to contribute to the organization which is a psychological state. In 1986, American psychologist Eisenberger et al. found that the academic research on this relationship has a one-way tendency, that the academic community is too concerned about employees’ commitment to organization, but little attention, or even ignore organization’s commitment to employees. Therefore, based on the concept of social exchange, the principle of compensation and organization to be humane ideas, they put forward the concept of POS, with POS that employees feel the organization’s commitment to them. POS is the overall feelings about sense of happiness and contribution of employees to whether the organization recognized. Employees tend to increase their loyalty and engagement and make greater contributions when they are valued and supported by organization in all aspects such as emotions, work, material, and values. The found of POS overcomes the previous research which is only to emphasize the employees’ commitment to organization, and the limitations of rarely concerned about the organization’s commitment to employees. The significant meaning is organization’s concern and attention to employees is the most important reason for employees to stay within the organization and to contribute to the organization, that is, employees’ commitment will come after the organization’s commitment to employees. Unilaterally emphasizing on employees’ commitment to organization and ignore organization’ commitment to employees is the enterprise’s own wishful thinking. Once the POS raised, it has been widely attention. Futhermore, POS can be seen as anthropomorphic form which is a positive role in promoting the job performance. The process of personal growth of employees also increase the growth of enterprises, which is a win-win concept.

POS is a comprehensive view of employees about how organization value their contributions and focus on their well-being. There are two main points to this concept. First, whether employees’ feelings about whether the organization values their contribution. Second, employees are concerned about whether the organization is pay attention to their feelings of happiness. McMillin (1997) complements the literature. He argues that Eisenberger’s POS focuses only on two aspects of support: intimate support and respect for support, while ignoring other aspects of support. Moreover, he has further refined POS, and categorize with emotional and instrumental support. Emotional support refers to: the affirmation of the work of the employees and the use of positive mood, while supporting the employees’ feelings and respect; instrumental support is: to meet the requirement of resources of during the work. Employees lack the information, training, tools and equipment needed to complete their work without instrumental support. So instrumental support is essential to the implementation of the work, and service providers in the absence of the necessary information, material and behavioural support will lead to poor service delivery, and eventually produce anger and frustration.

2.1.2 Measurement of POS

POS is different from the concept of job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychological contract. For the measurement of POS, Eisenberger et al. (1986) developed a “Survey of Perceived Organizational Support (SPOS)” containing 36 items, such as “the organization values my contribution to its growth”, “the organization can not understand that I put extra effort on my work” and so on.

As the SPOS is too long, in the research is not very convenient and practical, Eisenberger and later many scholars use excerpts of 36 items to form a new scale for measuring POS. The results of the research in the samples of different industries and different organizations show that there is a high internal reliability and a single dimension. For this reason, most of the POS studies are based on 17 factors with high load from the SPOS or a short questionnaire with fewer entries to replace the questionnaire for 36 items.

2.1.3 Factors that influence POS

Based on POS theory (Esienberger et al, 1986), Rhoades and Esienberger et al. (2002) summarized the three factors influencing POS through the meta-analysis on the basis of the previous review of POS’s research system. Three factors are fairness, perceived supervisor support and organizational rewards and job conditions.

Fairness can be divided into outcome fairness, procedural justice and interactional justice (Blader, Tyler, 2003). The results show that the outcome fairness mainly affects the perceived and attitudes of the employees to the decision-making of the management. The procedural justice mainly affects the attitude and emotion of the employees to the enterprises. The interactional justice mainly affects the relationship between the employees and the managers. In Shore’s research (1995) that fairness in the process of resource allocation has a great influence on POS.

Perceived supervisor support (PSS) is the belief of employees that their supervisors value their contributions, offer assistance, and care about their well-being (Cole et al, 2006; Eisenberger et al., 2002; House, 1981; Kossek et al., 2001; Kottke, Sharafinske, 1988). The supervisor as an agent of the organization usually takes responsibility for assessing the employee and delivering the organization’s goals and values to the employees. Because of this, employees regard the way that supervisor treats to them, as a manifestation of POS.

Organizational rewards and job conditions, such as the distribution of deserved wages and bonuses for employees, the developmental opportunities to expand their work skills, and the ability to carry out their own work independently. All of these can contribute to POS. Wayne et al. (1997) believe that more POS is generated when job training opportunities are based on the organization’s willingness to invest in employees rather than the public opinion.

2.1.4 The impact of POS on employee behaviour

POS theory holds that POS satisfies the social emotional needs of employees, and if employees feel the organization is willing and able to reward their work, employees will put more effort for the benefit of the organization. If employees get important valuable resources (such as wage growth, developmental training opportunities), they will generate a sense of obligation, in accordance with the principle of reciprocity, reduce absenteeism to help organizations achieve their goals.

Research shows that POS is mainly through the five aspects to exert influence on employee behaviour:

  1. A general sense of obligation, a sense of belonging, and emotional needs that motivate employees to help the organization achieve its goals (Eisenberger et al., 2001). Eisenberger et al., in the research of postal workers, found that POS and the general obligation of helping the organization to achieve its objectives showed positive correlation. The link between POS and obligation will be strengthened as employees become more receptive to the principle of reciprocity in “Employer-Employee Linkages”.
  2. Motivating employees to make emotional commitment to the organization (Eisenberger et al., 1990). Eisenberger et al. (1986) argues that the satisfaction of employees’ social needs will increase their emotional commitment to the organization. Organizational commitment refers to the employee’s identity, involvement, and emotional attachment to the organization. Stinglhamber and Vandenberghe (2003) believe the high POS mainly through three mechanisms to affect the employees’ emotional commitment to the organization based on the reciprocity principle. First, POS will give employees a sense of responsibility to contribute to organizational interests and organizational goals, enabling them to return organizations with higher organizational commitment and harder work. Second, the POS will meet the employees’ needs of respect, identity, ownership and other social emotional needs and enhance their emotional commitment to the organization, so that they have a strong sense of belonging to the organization. In addition, POS will also enable employees to feel the support of colleagues and understanding of their ability to produce a series of positive emotional experience, these positive emotional experience is associated with the organization, will lead to more employees’ organizational commitment. Shore and Tetrick (1991) argue that POS can also reduce employees’ cost of leaving a job and be forced to stay in the organization, which is to encourage continued commitment. Eisenberger’s meta-analysis study (2001) shows that POS has a significant impact on organizational commitment. It is positively correlated with emotional commitment; and the weak negative correlated with continuing commitment. Eisenberger et al.’s longitudinal team (2001) found that POS plays a role in regulating work experiences (organizational rewards, procedural justice, and leadership support) and emotional commitment.
  3. Improving the expectations of employees with good performance about receiving supervisor’s attention and reward. In terms of performance reward expectation research, POS shows the organization’s willingness to pay attention and reward employees who work hard to help them achieve their goals. Eisenberger et al. (1990) found a positive correlation between POS and performance reward expectations.
  4. In accordance with the theory of social exchange, POS will help employees to generate a sense of responsibility to support organizational goals. Therefore, high POS will lead to low turnover. According to the principle of reciprocity, people tend to think that they have the obligation to help those who have helped them; for the organization, employees have the obligation to return to the organization to give their own interests and opportunities. One of the ways in which employees return to organization is to stay involved. Eisenberger and Wayne believe POS will allow employees to identify themselves as an important member of the organization, and thus has fewer occupation mobility and resignation. Cropanzano, Wayne and other scholars have shown that organizational support and turnover tendencies were negatively correlated. Some studies suggest that organizational commitment and job satisfaction play a mediating role between organizational support and resignation. Stinglhamber and Vandenberghe in the study pointed out that people satisfied with the working conditions will affect PSS, and then PSS through affect the employees’ emotional commitment to influence the employee’s turnover intention. Witt’s research (1992) focuses on the relationship between POS and the desire of employees to stay within the organization. The results indicate that POS and employees are willing to stay in the organization is a positively correlated, that is, POS can affect the employee’s idea of leaving the organization.
  5. POS is helpful for organizational politics behavior (OPB) and job stress. OPB refers to administrative behaviour that promotes its own interests at the expense of organizational goals, which often leads some important decision makers to use improper means to achieve their personal goals. Some empirical studies by Randall et al. found that OPB would have negative impact on the behaviour of employees in a series of organizational behaviours. Wayne et al. argue that one of the most important reasons is that POS plays a role in regulating political cognition and job satisfaction, job performance, emotional commitment, and job stress. OPB directly affects the POS of employees, and POS will affect a series of organizational behaviours and work results. A more classic theory of job stress is demand-control model proposed by Karasek. This theory holds work demand and self-control are two important dimensions that affect job stress. Asad and Khan’s research shows that employees with high POS tend to have a relatively low job stress level. They argue that supportive organizations can create a predictable organizational environment and work with colleagues who can help, thereby reducing the stress level of employees. A study by Thomas and Ganster shows that POS, especially in emergencies, increases employee self-control of life. This sense of self-control helps to reduce the psychological and physical stress levels of employees. In response to Karasek’s demand -control model, some scholars have proposed demand-control-support three-dimensional models for job stress. Bliese et al. show that demand-control-support model is an important extension to the demand-control model.

Through the above five aspects, POS can improve employee satisfaction and performance, influence employees’ organizational citizenship behaviour and and reduce absenteeism rate.

2.2    Employee Engagement

2.2.1 Definition of employee engagement

Employee engagement, so far, in the theorists without a clear and unified definition. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out related concept of employee engagement and make further understanding on the concept of it before carry on the empirical research to the enterprise employee engagement.

The term “Employee Engagement” was first used by the famous American sociologist Dr. Gallup and the Gallup Consulting Company in the 70 years of time, through scientific qualitative and quantitative research. Theoretical scholars and various management consulting firms have defined the concept of employee engagement, and because of their different starting points, the concept of employee engagement is also different.

  1. Definition by consulting firm

Dr. Gallup and Gallup organization define that employee engagement is to create a good working environment for employees, on the basis of giving full play to the advantages of their ability. Moreover, making every employee to be own unit in the company and creating a sense of belonging.

Simon Hardaker and Towers Perrin Inc. define employee engagement as the strength and ability of employees to help businesses succeed, and from another perspective, employees are willing to apply their own efforts to work. At the same time, employees will be divided into two types of professional behaviour: rational and emotional engagement. Among them, rational engagement is that when employees know that the current work for the individual benefits, they will be able to self-motivation, and willing to pay a certain effort to help enterprises to be successful. Emotional engagement refers to when employees cherish, attach importance to and love their current work, will take the initiative to spend more of their personal feelings, and always concerned about the company’s future development.

Well-known investigation and management consulting firm Hewitt think that employee engagement refers to the the tendencies of employees want to stay in the company and the degree of effort they will put for the company. And it thinks employee engagement can be measured with following three aspects as “3S”. The first one is “say” which is language assessment: positive comments, constantly praise company to colleagues, potential colleagues, especially to customers. The second one is “stay” which is willingness to stay: desire to stay, strongly want to stay in the company. The third one is “strive” which is the degree of effort: do everything, employees give extra effort and are committed to company that could lead to success of work.

  1. Definition by theorists

Theoretical scholars research on employee engagement first defined by Kahn (1990). He defines employee engagement as a member of the organization who performs his own work and manifests himself in emotions, cognition, and behaviour in a self-directed role in his work. For many members of the organization, there are two more central roles: work roles and organizational membership roles. Kahn argues that self and work roles are in a dynamic, transformable relationship: when employees have a high level of engagement, employees will combine self-employment and self-expression in this role; when employee engagement is at a low level, employees will lower their work role performance and gradually to self role from work role.

Robinson et al. (2004) defines employee engagement as “a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organization and its value. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organization. The organization must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee.”

Maslach et al. (2001) argue that engagement is a state of feeling that is full of energy, can be effectively engaged in work, and live in harmony with others. They define engagement as an opposite of a job burnout or a positive one. Highly engaged individuals feel energetic and effective work, live in harmony with others, and feel personal ability to meet the requirements of work. Schaufeli et al. (2002) define engagement as a positive, fulfilling, and achievable, self-fulfilling, work-related psychological state, has the characteristics of dynamic, dedicated, and focused. They further point out that engagement is not instantaneous state, but a persistent. In addition, Schaufeli et al. believe that engagement and job burnout are linked, is opposite between emotional characteristics. However, they do not think that engagement and job burnout is completely opposed.

Shirom et al. (2003) believe that engagement represents a positive emotional reaction and is an emotional response that has always been an important factor in the interaction of work and the environment. Keeley (2004) argues that employee engagement is an emotion of the employee to the company, and that this emotion can be translated into action to promote the company’s performance. The two scholars are from the perspective of emotional factors to define employee engagement. They are in common that employee engagement is positive, positive emotions, affected by the work, company and other aspects.

Gardner and Saks two scholars believe that engagement is a measure of the degree of input to work. Charles E Gardner (2005) argues that employee engagement is the extent of the employees to work. Highly engaged employees are considering working-related issues even in their spare time. They are committed to working performance improvements. Saks (2006) defines engagement as an individual’s focus on work and is immersed in the work role.

2.2.2 Structure dimension of employee engagement

Many research institutions and scholars have different interpretations of employee engagement, also caused different cognitive structure dimension of employee engagement. However, the results of many scholars have found that the structural dimension of the employee engagement is multidimensional.

According to the definition of employee engagement, Kahn (1990) further divides employee engagement into three dimensions: physiological, cognitive and emotional, and examines the degree of input of employees in three dimensions. Physiological input refers to the individual in the state of role, in the process of the task to maintain physical, psychological and other physiological aspects high involved in the state; cognitive input refers to the individual employees to clearly understand their role in the work scene mission requirements and tasks, at the same time to improve and maintain a highly active role cognition about the work and awake; emotional input refers to the individual employees to remain highly sensitive to others’ emotional volatility changes as well as the internal and external relationships with colleagues and supervisors.

Maslach et al. (2001) in the process of the research is associate employee engagement and job burnout, and think that engagement is the direct opposite of job burnout, so their division of employee engagement is a combination of job burnout. Engagement and job burnout are seen as a whole, and they are treated as poles of a three-dimensional continuum, where the engagement is characterized by energy, involvement, and efficacy.

Oakley and Cozzani argue that employee engagement consists of three dimensions: inspiration, personal involvement and supportiveness. Inspiration refers to the promotion behaviour that is used to promote the employee to show the benefit of achieving organization goals. Personal involvement refers to the behaviour status of employees in the work of the organization’s task, the degree of participation, the degree of contribution. Supportiveness refers to employees’ superior, colleagues, subordinates support and understand them.

Schaufeli et al. (2002) believe that employee engagement includes vigor, dedication and absorption three dimensions. Vigor refers to the individual employees has sufficient energy to ensure that a good psychological flexibility, regardless of return for their own work to complete the effort and rarely in the process of showing a state of fatigue, in the face of difficulties encountered when the work can continue to work hard. Dedication is the individual employees in the work process to full of enthusiasm, their ability to fully release in the work out, dare to deal with the challenges of work, work on the completion of a strong sense of pride; Absorption is characterized by the degree of personal involvement in the working process, employees will enjoy the process.

Saks (2006) first proposed the concept of employee engagement, which divides it into organizational engagement and job engagement, and validates the dimensionality of dimensions with empirical research.

2.2.3 Factors that influence employee engagement

Kahn (1990) analyzes the employee engagement from the psychological point of view. After analyzing the data, it is concluded that the employee engagement is influenced by three psychological conditions, namely, meaningfulness, safety and availability. In the mean time, these three psychological conditions are determined by other factors. The psychological meaningfulness is determined by three factors: task characteristics, role characteristics and work interaction. The psychological safety is determined by interpersonal relationships, group and intergroup dynamics, management style and process, and organizational norms. The psychological availability is influenced by depletion of physical energy, depletion of emotional energy, individual insecurity, and outside lives. May et al. (2004) conducted an empirical analysis based on Kahn’s theoretical model and improved and adjusted the factors. After empirical analysis, the three psychological factors were positively correlated with employee engagement, and the correlation between psychological meaningfulness and employee engagement is obviously greater than that of psychological safety and availability. The abundance of content of job, the match of responsibility of job and good relationship are positively correlated with psychological meaningfulness; Good relationship between colleagues and supportive relationship is positively related to psychological safety, but the rules of cooperation are negatively correlated with psychological safety; psychological availability and available resources are positively correlated, but with self-awareness and participation in external activities are negative correlated.

Kahn and May et al.’s research results include a number of factors that affect employee engagement, showing personal physiological characteristics, organization relationships, work itself, and management mode, etc. will be under the condition of medium of psychological impact on employee engagement.

Hewitt Consulting conducted a survey of best employers in Chinese enterprises in 2003, and the results show that there are some potential positive impact factors in employee engagement, which are: employee development opportunities, resources, welfare and work tasks. At the same time, it is found that the employees of different age, position and educational level are not the same as the potential drivers, but in general, Hewitt Consulting believes that the employees engagement factors are divided into seven factors: corporate culture and objectives, pay and benefits, management level, working environment and quality of life, growth and development opportunities, work itself, interpersonal relationships.

Towers Perrin’s consulting firm, after years of questionnaires, summarizes the factors that affect employee engagement as: career development opportunities, competitive basic salary, learning and development opportunities, balance of life and work, challenging work, and personal performance-related pay rise, corporate employer reputation, the quality of the job, the diversity of tasks, the financial situation of enterprises, competitive retirement benefits, a high degree of autonomy. Among them, good salary and benefits, moderate work content and pressure, and reasonable career planning, become the three main factors of cultivating and improving employee engagement in the enterprises.

2.2.4 Measurement of employee engagement

In the 1930s, Dr. Gallup, the founder of Gallup Consulting, designed a questionnaire on employee engagement in the 1990s through a study of the relationship between individual and job satisfaction worldwide, the Q12 questionnaire. The questionnaire was used to measure employee engagement and work environment through 12 questions. The scale is a Likert five-point questionnaire. The specific questions are as follows: I know the job requirements for me; I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job I feel that my supervisor or colleague is concerned about my personal situation; the workplace has encouraged me to develop; in the workplace, I have the opportunity to do my best at all in the past seven days; I think my opinion is valued and the quality of the company; I have one of the best friends in the workplace; in the past six months there was someone talking to me about my progress; in the past year, I had the opportunity to learn and grow at work. Q12 Questionnaire is currently the most widely used measurement tool for employee engagement research. It has been measured in millions of employees in more than 100 countries around the world, and its internal consistency coefficient α is higher than 0.80.

Although Kahn first defined the employee engagement from the theoretical point of view and suggested that the employee engagement had three dimensions of physiological, cognitive and emotional structure. However, there is not many measurement tools developed on the basis of his theory. The more representative one was developed by May et al. (2004) which is according to Kahn’s theory, a pre-test scale of work with 24 test items. But after exploratory analysis found that the ideal structure of three independent and stable dimensions were not obtained, so they chose one of the more homogeneous reflect physiological, cognitive, and emotional three aspects of 13 measuring items of an overall scale used to measure employee engagement, the final formation of the internal consistency of the internal consistency coefficient α = 0.77.

2.3     Learning from modules

In the module of Creating Business Excellence (WMG, 2016), European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model is the important topic. The EFQM Excellence Model is a useful tool that helps companies help them understand the gap by measuring their approach to excellence and then implement solutions. The EFQM model contains eight dominant concepts: results-oriented, customer-centric, leadership and firm goals, process and fact management, employee development and participation in continuous learning, innovation improvement, development of partnerships, and public accountability. Firstly, the results depend on taking into account and meeting the needs of all relevant beneficiaries (beneficiaries include employees, customers, suppliers, societies, and corporate investors). Secondly, customer-centric, the customer is the final referee of the product and service. Customer loyalty, retention of customers, and gaining market share are optimized by clearly identifying the current and potential needs of customers. Thirdly, the leadership of the organization creates a clear and consistent organizational goal and creates an excellent environment for the organization and its employees. Fourthly, when all the activities within the organization are understood and managed systematically, the decisions about the operation of the organization are more effective when decisions such as current operations and planned improvements are made through the use of reliable information, including beneficiaries’ opinions. Fifthly, the potential of employees in the organization is through the sharing of values, mutual trust and authorization of the cultural atmosphere, to encourage staff to participate in the full release. Sixthly, when the organization is in the continuous learning, innovation and improvement of the cultural atmosphere to manage and share information, its performance is optimal. Seventhly, the organization is most effective in its reciprocal relationship with its partners, building trust, sharing information and keeping it consistent. Eighthly, for a public responsibility of the enterprise, its organization and its employees’ long-term benefits will be the best protection. In the section of people in EFQM talks about how organizations manage, develop and release the knowledge and potential from individuals, groups and organizations, and plan programs to support the effective operation of policies and processes. It includes: (1) human resources planning, management and improvement; (2) to identify, develop and maintain the employees’ knowledge and ability; (3) employee participation and authorization; (4) conversation between employees and organizations; (5) employees receive rewards, attention and concern.

In the module of Organizations, People and Performance (WMG, 2006) focus on the application of strategic human resource management principles in the context of business, and the assessment of human resources strategic approaches. The use of principles and philosophy, emphasizing a holistic approach to personnel management practices, as it relates to effective performance at the organizational and individual levels. Compare, contrast and apply organizational behaviour and psychological theory to provide a basis for the practice of personnel management. Recognize their future contributions and the importance of being leaders as they manage themselves and others to reach their full potential. Strategic human resource is conducive to the organization of strategic objectives and development planning. Human resources planning is an important part of the organization’s development strategy, but also to achieve the organization’s strategic objectives of the important guarantee. To ensure the need for human resources in the process of organizational survival, the human resources department must analyze the gap between the needs and supply of human resources and develop plans to meet the needs of human resources. Moreover, strategic human resource is good for the human resource planning orderly. Human resource management activities is the foundation of enterprise human resource management. It is composed of master plan and various business plans. For the management activities (such as determining the staff’s demand, supply, adjustment duties and tasks, training, etc.) to provide reliable information and basis, and thus to ensure the orderly management activities. It is necessary to mobilize the enthusiasm of the staff and the creative human resource management requirements in order to achieve the organizational goals, but also to meet the individual needs of employees (including material needs and spiritual needs). So as to stimulate the enthusiasm of the staff, only in the human resources planning conditions; the staff can meet their own things and the level of satisfaction is known.

The module of Leadership and Excellence (WMG, 2016) focus on leadership, and how leaders deploy strategies to achieve the organization’s long-term goals. Leadership is Criterion 1 of the European Excellence Model. It is defined as (EFQM, 2012): “Excellent organizations have leaders who shape the future and make it happen, acting as role models for its values and ethics and inspiring trust at all times. They are flexible, enabling the organization to anticipate and react in a timely manner to ensure the on-going success of the organization.”

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