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The 2017 engagement trends (Aon & Hewitt, 2017:4) show that global engagement levels standing at 63% have decreased by two percentage points since measured in 2016. Interestingly to note is the fact that engagement levels in Africa have increased to 61%, although still below global levels. “People create business value. That is an indisputable fact. People also are emotional and fickle. They want to be won over often. That is why employee engagement can be an organization’s great differentiator in times of stability or in times of rapid change. When you have a culture of engagement, your competitors better take notice” (Aon & Hewitt, 2017:15).
Starting with the work of Kahn (1990) in the early 1990s to the current statistics on engagement provided by Aon and Hewitt (2017), the concept of employee engagement has developed through time. Although there are many definitions of employee engagement, researchers seem to agree on the importance of organisations to understand employee engagement and to improve on it (Aon & Hewitt, 2017:15; Welch, 2011:328).
Drivers or antecedents are tools used in order to improve employee engagement, and as with the concept of engagement, there are many proposed drivers that will facilitate higher levels of engagement. One of the most widely used and cited research on drivers, is the job demand–resource model (Bakker, 2011:268; De Braine & Roodt, 2011:9; Demerouti et al., 2001:510; Rothmann et al., 2006:83; Rothmann & Rothman, 2010; Schaufeli et al., 2009:908). Demetriou, Bakker, Nachreiner and Schaufeli (2001) developed the concepts of job demands and job resources as drivers of employee engagement, and their well-tested scale has supported a positive relationship between job demands and resources, and employee engagement (Demerouti et al., 2001:510).
It is important to start by explaining the two terms, drivers and antecedents of employee engagement. They refer to personal and/or work related conditions that would lead to, or cause employee engagement to improve (Fleck & Inceoglu, 2010:33). They are used interchangeably in literature on the matter, and will be used in a similar manner in this study.
This chapter relates to the Secondary Research Objective II: To determine whether certain job resources have an influence on employee engagement. This Chapter conceptualises employee engagement by referring to the historical development of the concept through three waves. It then defines the role of job resources as drivers of employee engagement.
It is, however, important to acknowledge that research on job resources as defined by Demetriou, Bakker, Nachreiner and Schaufeli (2001), is not the only research that has been conducted on drivers or antecedents of engagement. In order to best understand job resources in the context of existing literature, other proposed concepts to understand what drives employee engagement will also be discussed here.
The Chapter orientation in Figure 3.1 shows the influence of communication climate on job resources. It also shows the relationship between job resources (as drivers) and employee engagement, in the context of business management’s need to provide a strategy that will influence how human resources are managed within the organisation.


When defining employee engagement, it is clear that there is some overlap with other concepts used to explain the working of the organisation – concepts such as organisational commitment, job involvement, and job satisfaction. Albrecht (2010:6) reminds scholars that these concepts refer to positive work-related psychological states, and thus, it is expected that there would be an overlap. However, he concludes that there are considerable research conducted that support the notion that employee engagement is a unique and distinct construct.
Erickson (Macey & Schneider, 2008:7) states the following:
“Engagement is above and beyond simple satisfaction with the employment arrangement or basic loyalty to the employer — characteristics that most companies have measured for many years. Engagement, in contrast, is about passion and commitment — the willingness to invest oneself and expend one’s discretionary effort to help the employer succeed.”
In a study done by Inceoglu and Fleck (2010:82-84), the concepts of job satisfaction and employee engagement are part of the motivational construct. They argue that both job satisfaction and employee engagement can be found on a continuum, ranging from trait-like motivation (being motivated by something), feeling motivation (engagement), to behavioural motivation (showing motivated work behaviours). The implication of differentiating between concepts on the continuum, such as between employee engagement and job satisfaction, will help researchers and practitioners to use these concepts in a more targeted manner, and for specific application, such as selecting staff, staff development, and employee surveys. Khalid, Khalid, Waseem, Farooqi and Nazish (2015) define organisational commitment as the attachment and belief in the values of the organisation, which lead to a desire to stay with the organisation. It is argued that employee engagement takes a more in-depth approach as it focuses on how employees invest themselves in the organisation on a cognitive, emotional and physical level.
Employee engagement as a concept is fairly well researched and there are a number of definitions in the literature on the topic. Albrecht (2010:5) defines the concept as “a positive work-related psychological state characterised by a genuine willingness to contribute to organisational success”. Kahn (1990:700), one of the first to research engagement in the workplace, defined engagement as people being physically, emotionally, and cognitively connected to their work. Perhaps the most widely accepted and used definition is coined by Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá and Bakker (2002:74):
“Engagement is defined as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigour, dedication, and absorption. Rather than a momentary and specific state, engagement refers to a more persistent and pervasive affective-cognitive state that is not focused on any particular object, event, individual, or behaviour”.
In an attempt to conceptualise employee engagement and the value for employees and management in more detail, Welch (2011) identified a number of evolutionary waves in the historical development of employee engagement. These waves are discussed below.

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The pre-wave era: before 1990

Before 1990 the concept of employee engagement had not been coined. No real empirical research, to fully understand the concept of employee engagement, had been conducted. However, amongst scholars and practitioners, there existed a general recognition that engaging with employees in an organisation was vitally important for the effective functioning of that organisation. Discussions amongst scholars took place to understand the organisation’s role in creating a work environment that would promote innovation and cooperation from employees; beyond their normal work role requirements (Welch, 2011:329-332; Welch, 2014).

Wave 1: 1990–1999

Kahn (1990) ushered in the first wave of research into employee engagement. He was one of the first researchers to theorise on the concept of employee engagement, defining it and identifying what drives it. He stated that employee engagement can be defined as how positively employees think (cognitively) and feel (emotionally) about the organisation and how they behave (physically) towards achieving organisational goals. It thus refers to how involved, committed and passionate employees are about their work (Attridge, 2009:383; Cook, 2008:3; Kahn, 1990:700).
Kahn (1990:700) explains how engagement functions by building on Goffman’s dramaturgical metaphor. Goffman (Steinberg, 2007:183) theorises how people present themselves during short interpersonal interactions. He states that people play certain roles according to what is socially and contextually acceptable. Kahn (1990:964) narrows Goffman’s theory and explains role-playing behaviour in a working environment. He states that through role-playing behaviour, employees would bring into, or leave out of the working environment, their personal or private self, leading to personal engagement or disengagement.
Kahn (1990:700) states that personal engagement is when employees engage themselves cognitively, emotionally and physically in their role as employees. An engaged employee would put effort into his/her work, would be involved and mindful, and would be highly motivated. These employees would also be more creative, expressive, authentic and ethical in their work behaviour.

List of figures 
List of tables
1.1. Introduction
1.2. Background
1.3. Research problem
1.4. Research objectives and Hypotheses
1.5. Research methodology
1.6. Research contributions
1.7. Limitations
1.8. Ethical considerations
1.9. Thesis structure .
1.10. Chapter summary…
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Meta-theoretical framework
2.3. Communication climate
2.4. Chapter summary
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Conceptualising employee engagement
3.3. Vigour, dedication and absorption as indicators of employee engagement
3.4. Employee engagement and knowledge workers
3.5. Conceptualising drivers of employee engagement
3.6. Job resources as drivers of employee engagement
3.7. Chapter summary
4.1. Introduction .
4.2. Quantitative research approach .
4.3. Research design
4.4. Data analysis
4.5. Ethical considerations
4.6. Chapter summary
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Primary and secondary research objectives
5.3. Operationalisation.
5.4. Sample characteristics
5.5. Validity and reliability of the measurement scales
5.6. Construct descriptives.
5.7. Factor correlation analysis
5.8. Structural equation modeling
5.9. Mediation.
5.10. Chapter summary.
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Discussion of findings related to secondary research objectives
6.3. Discussion of findings related to primary research objective
6.4. Discussion of findings related to the problem statement
6.5. Management implications
6.6. Reseach limitations .
6.7. Recommendations for further research
6.8. Summary

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