Translating Employee Engagement Theory into Practice at Contracting Firms

Title: Translating Employee Engagement Theory into Practice at Contracting Firms




Leaders in all sorts of businesses have started realizing that one of the big differentiators for them is the uniqueness of their workforce that cannot be duplicated by competitors and brings them a sustained advantage (Fisher, 2006). Company leaders are more and more concerned with implementing practices that will provide work culture that promotes effective engagement of their workforce to achieve business success.In last decade there has been a lot of focus on Employee Engagement as a factor driving a lot of positive outcomes for businesses. Both research and practitioner literature has shown positive impacts of employee engagement on organizational level outcomes such as shareholder value, profitability, customer satisfaction as well as at individual level with engaged employees showing positive job attitude, job performance, better health and overall well-being(Saks, 2107), (Buys C, 2010) (Shimazu A, 2012) (Steele JP, 2012) (Yalabik ZY, 2103) (Christian, 2011). There has been a debate on how and if employee engagement differs from related and well established constructs such as organizational commitment and organizational identification (Reissner, 2013) (Macey, 2008). However, it has been reasonably concluded that Engagement is considered as a higher –order motivational construct that provides a relatively enduring state of mind that provides psychological connection with work resulting in self investment of personal resources in work (Christian, 2011) (Macey, 2008). Inspite of benefits associated with employee engagement research has shown that most companies are struggling with low engagement. A Gallup survey showed that only 13 percent of global workforce could be considered as highly engaged with around half of workforce not agreeing to recommend their employers to their peers (Deloitte, 2015). This combination of employee engagement benefits and dropping engagement has made this issue a high priority for organizations (Deloitte, 2015). However, even with extensive research pointing to importance of engagement, the factors that drive it and ways to improve it, the outcome has been lower engagement. This paradox is hard to understand and even though employee engagement has been made very popular by practitioner works is still missing the rigor of academics to a level where consensus can be reached on a definition or framework oron how to measure it and what its drivers and outcomes are. Academics have started catching up on this term and last decade has seen an explosion of research on this topic in academia and we have seen work on its antecedents and outcomes and theoretical frameworks but still a lot more needs to be done before it becomes a standard construct. To add to this there is the question of what do employees engage with? Different interpretations have been given: engaggment with their job (job engagement), engagement with their work (work engagement), engagement with their organization (organizational engagement) etc. where each will will require their own adaptations of definition, referents, measures and drivers (Saks, 2107). Alan Saks in his paper on translating employee research into practice defines 5 barriers that an organization must overcome to develop a meaningful strategy to reap the benefits(Saks, 2107).  Saks define these barriers as:

“1. The Engagement Definition Barrier: What is employee engagement and how should we define it in our organization?

  1. The Engagement Referent Barrier: What are the differ- ent referents for employee engagement and what refer- ent should we focus on in our organization?
  2. The Engagement Measurement Barrier: How do you measure employee engagement and how should we measure it in our organization?
  3. The Engagement Driver Barrier: What are the main drivers of employee engagement and what drives engagement in our organization?
  4. The Engagement Strategy Barrier: How can we develop an effective employee engagement strategy that will result in a highly engaged workforce?”


Each of these barriers needs to be worked sequentially to reach to an operational implementation. This study will work through these barriers individually to develop a model of organizational engagement that is specific to our industry context.


Contracting Firms: Setting up the Organizational Context

Many of the Small Medium Enterprises (SME) operating in German/European Aerospace market are involved in providing staff either as individuals or as part of service contracts on projects either being executed by larger enterprises or national or European agencies. Many of these projects run for decades and staff can be based at customer premises for the whole duration of projects. Staff working on these projects has to work under guidelines provided by customer for their day to day work while also ensuring adherence to their organizations processes. Many times customer managers are directing the projects and are responsible for designing the jobs and contracting company doesn’t have much say or leverage in work environment their employees find themselves in. These employees have few touch points with organizations they work for and mostly related to Human Resource processes: timesheet submissions, travel re-imbursements, meetings with line managers (maybe on site or off site), yearly appraisals and get together at company level functions once or twice a year.


Since the nature of work is very specific, experienced staff is a huge asset for these companies as for winning new contracts the experience of its people in that area plays a significant role. Also, employees based at customer sites are more aware of changes and requirements in projects and can provide insights in new opportunities that may not be visible from outside. Based on the above, experienced employees are highly sought after by competition as well. For such companies it becomes imperative to develop a strategy of employee engagement that can help them not only in retaining staff but winning new business based on their insights and discretionary efforts that are aligned with organizational goals. However, for such companies owing to limited influence on job and work employees do at customer site the only avenue to engage employees will be through organizational engagement that will be the focus of this study. In the rest of the document wherever contracting firms is referred it refers to companies operating under this context and employee engagement will be equated with organizational engagement.


Study Objectives:

Based on above discussion and context the main objectives of this study are:


1)Analyze the literature on employee engagement and define what employee engagement means in our organization context.


2) Based on above develop a model of organizational engagement with its drivers and outcomes and measures to assess each.


3) Validate the model using data from employee survey.


4) Based on the outcome propose an effective employee engagement strategy to company management.



Rationale of Study

First there is a limited body of work on studying employee engagement from an organizational perspective with most of the work done only from job and work perspective. Secondly, context provided by contractual firms provides a unique perspective in studying employee engagement. Also, the researcher had its MBA paid by the company with the aim of progressing within company management and this study will provide an opportunity to both him and the company to learn more about one of the critical aspects of this industry, i.e, managing employee engagement.


Research Structure:


Chapter 1 provides the outline of the study. This chapter starts with providing a brief overview of the Employee Engagement and provides the context of the study. Moreover it provides the research aim and objectives as well as structure of the research.


Chapter 2 constitutes a literature review and helps us in defining the definition of engagement that is appropriate to context of the study. Based on this definition further study will be done of literature to define a model of drivers and consequences of employee engagement providing the hypothesis that will be tested later on.


Chapter 3 addresses Research Design and Methodology. The chapter provides the research process and research philosophy. This chapter also provides the details of research design, choice of measures and implementation of data collection method.


Chapter 4 provides the results of the primary data collection and statistical analysis is done to verify the hypothesis.


Chapter 5 constitutes the discussion of the results and their significance in comparison to research aims and objectives.


Chapter 6 summarizes the level of achievement. It also acknowledges limitations of the study and scope of future studies in the same research area.

Few things to keep in mind:
1) Introduction chapter I have added gives more details on what is expected in this piece of work
2) Alan Saks paper 2017 gives outline of how we are approaching this.
3) I mostly need help with writing and statistical analysis. The paper I have added (Alan Saks, 2006) provides an idea of what kind of statistical analysis will be needed. We will need to create a survey to measure engagement, antecedents and outcomes that I will run in my company to collect data. We will then do statistical analysis to find relationships between antecedents, engagement and outcomes. It might be that we dont get enough data and might need to create some samples ourselves as well. I need someone who has done and is comfortable doing detailed statistical analysis and provide interpretations.
4) The paper is for one of the UK universities so will be good if the person has some experience working with UK students.
5) I will need text written in following format: Typed in Arial 11pt, A4-size page layout,
1.5 lines spacing and with 15000 words limit. Referencing should be in Harvard Style. Since you dont have an option of 1.5 line spacing it will be better if we keep the price based on word count.
6) I have no means to identify how many charts and tables will be needed but we can discuss that based on need identified.
7) I will want to talk with writer before we commence with the contract to make sure we are on same page.