Have you ever walked into an organization and said, WOW! This place is amazing, and I want to be part of this team. If so, what about their culture influenced your level of interest? Maybe you found that their work environment inspired creativity. Perhaps it was the way you noticed employees interacting with each other, or maybe it was even the way individuals seemed self-motivated and engaged with their work. When we look at the impact of organizational culture, we find that culture stands out as a driving factor that influences engaged and innovative organizations.

So what is so essential about organizational culture and employee engagement?  Organizational culture is the fundamental and underlying beliefs and values of an organization, which operate unconsciously and are shared by its members (Swanson & Holton, 2009). We can discover the culture by looking at ways employees innovate, how organizations think, their operational practices, and other artifacts (Eisenberg, Goodall Jr., Trethewey, 2007).  To be successful in the pursuit of employee engagement, we need to develop a culture that strives to develop shared visions for our employees to grow and learn (Sege,2006). Organizational cultures that have developed a higher level of employee engagement will not only see more productivity, but they will also see increase employee retention.

According to Meherzi and Singh (2016), employee engagement will lead to “productivity, profitability, customer loyalty, and safety” (p. 92). Typically, employees that show tendencies of higher engagement will be more committed to their employer (Kahn, 1990). So what is employee engagement? Employee “engagement is not an attitude; it is the degree to which an individual is attentive and absorbed in the performance of their roles” (Saks, 2006, p.602). It is further defined as “a positive, fulfilling, and work related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption“(Schaufeli, Martinez, Pinto, Salanova, & Bakker, 2002, p. 465).

What are some simple steps that your organization can take to make an impact?  First, help ensure that your mission is aligned and that there is a shared vision among all employees. Second, take the time to arrange your training and development program to increase awareness of factors that help engage employee engagement. Consider providing training for leaders to understand principles related to servant leadership and emotional intelligence. Further, develop a supportive culture that allows for a work/life balance, and educate employees on the importance of seeking input and feedback from all employees, not just more tenured employees.

If we do not step up and help our leaders grow, we are likely to see more disengaged workers, a decrease in retention rates, and lower levels of performance. By educating our leaders on the factors that will develop a culture that supports employee engagement, you will have a workforce that is more efficient, productive, and interested in the success of the organization.



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Eisenberg, E., Goodall, H., & Trethewey, A., (2007). Organizational Communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. Boston, MA. Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Kahn, W.  (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work.  Academy of management Journal, 33, 33(4), 692-724.

Mehrzi, N.A. & Singh, S. K. (2016).  Competing through employee engagement: a proposed framework. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 65 (6), 831-843.

Saks, A. M. (2006). Antecedents and consequences of employ engagement. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(7), 600-619.

Schaufeeli, W. B. & Bakker, A.B. (2004). Jobs demands, job resources, and relationship with burnout and engagement: a multi-sample study.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 293-315.

Senge, P.M. (2006).  The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Swanson R. A. and Holton III, E. F. (2009). Foundations of human resource development (2 ed). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

— This story is written by Dr. Matthew W Hurtienne, Dean of the School of Business at Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor.

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