The evolution of the employee engagement concept: communication implications

Welch, Mary (2011) The evolution of the employee engagement concept: communication implications. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 16 (4). pp. 328-346. ISSN 1356-3289

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to make a contribution to corporate communication theory by considering the evolution of employee engagement and the role of communication in enhancing employee engagement.

Design/methodology/approach – Despite its importance for organisation leaders, there is considerable confusion about the meaning of employee engagement. This paper aims to provide a degree of clarity on the concept by identifying stages in its evolution and discussing its definition.

Findings – Surprisingly, corporate communication literature has not yet adequately considered the concept. This may be due to confusion concerning the concept, and to concerns about overlaps with other constructs such as commitment. This paper tackles the gap in the literature with a proposed model of the role of internal corporate communication in enhancing employee engagement.

Research limitations/implications – The article discusses linkages between engagement and communication which suggest research potential for the communication disciplines.

Practical implications – There are practical implications of the model proposed here since it encourages communicators to consider potential engagement effects of communication strategies and tactics.

Social implications – The paper encourages communicators to consider the communication needs of employees.

Originality/value – This conceptual paper provides an overview of employee engagement literature with a novel contribution identifying evolutionary waves in the development of the concept. It suggests a definition of organisation engagement as a dynamic, changeable psychological state which links employees to their organisations, manifest in organisation member role performances expressed physically, cognitively and emotionally, and influenced by organisation-level internal communication.

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