Impact of management basics on employee engagement.

Author:Medlin, Bobby


With the importance of employee engagement well established in the management literature, it becomes important to identify management practices that lead to improved employee engagement. The purpose of this study is to empirically investigate the impact of the management basics (management principles and management process) on employee engagement.


The management principles and management process are hypothesized as positive antecedents to employee engagement. Using survey data collected from 166 full-time employees in the southern United States, the antecedent relationships are assessed following a partial least squares statistical methodology.


Both the management principles and the management process positively and directly impact employee engagement.


The study sample is a convenience sample, rather than a random sample, which hampers the ability to generalize the study results.


Organizations that adhere to the management principles and follow the management process are more likely to experience high levels of employee engagement.


Engaged employees are both efficient and effective in the operation of organizational processes that produce products and services that meet customer demands. Management practices such as the management principles and the management process that support employee engagement serve to eliminate the waste of organizational resources.


The importance of employee engagement is well established. This study establishes the management principles and the management process as two approaches that managers can adopt and implement that will lead to improved employee engagement.


Employee engagement, management principles, management process, partial least squares


Research paper


Great management has always been about performance. Effective managers get great performance from people. Over the past 100 years, countless approaches, practices, programs, ideas, strategies, fads, etc. have been developed and implemented by managers as ways to improve the performance of employees. Stanley (2012) discusses the importance of building on the foundations of management delineated by such management greats as Fayol and Taylor. In particular, Fayol's (1916) work to delineate the management principles and describe the management functions/process serves as the foundation of great management still today (Spatig, 2009; Brunsson, 2008).

More recently, few management topics have received more attention and discussion in the management literature than employee engagement (Medlin and Green, 2009). There is significant evidence that engagement leads to improved performance (Medlin and Green, 2009). With this in mind, it becomes important to identify antecedents to engagement. Specifically, in this study, we examine the impact that adherence to the traditional management principles and management process originally identified and described by Fayol (1916) on employee engagement. We theorize a structural model that incorporates the management principles and the management process as antecedents to employee engagement, collect data from a convenience sample of 166 full-time employees, and analyze the data following a partial least squares structural equation modeling methodology.

A review of the literature and discussion of the study hypothesis follows in the next section. A discussion of the methodology employed the structural equation modeling results. Finally, a conclusions section incorporating discussions of the contributions of the study, limitations of the study, recommendations for future research, and managerial implications is provided.


The principles of management and the management process are two topics that have been explored and discussed in the management literature for over a century (Fayol, 1916; Stanley, 2012). Fayol's work related to the principles and process remains applicable today (McLean, 2011; Brunsson, 2008). Modern approaches to effective management depend to some extent upon the foundation provided by these two concepts (Rodrigues, 2001; Stanley, 2012). Employee engagement, a much more recently identified management construct, has probably received as much attention in the management literature over the past 15 years as any other single management approach to improving individual and organizational performance. An ABI/Inform search using the term employee engagement results in over 94,500 citations. Building upon the research in the areas of job satisfaction and organizational commitment, employee engagement has been explored by both academicians and practitioners as a vital mechanism toward improved performance (Medlin and Green, 2010; Green and Medlin, 2009).

Our general purpose is to identify managerial actions that improve employee engagement. More specifically, we propose that adherence to the principles of management and adoption of the management process will lead to improved employee engagement. In our review of the associated literature, we did not find any empirical investigations of the relationships among the principles, process, and engagement constructs. A description of the structural model under investigation here follows along with discussions of the literature relating to each of the constructs and logical support for the two study hypotheses.

Theoretical model

Violations of the management principles place unnecessary frustrate employees impeding their progress and success. Not adhering to the steps in the management process results in employees who do not know what is expected of them also impeding progress and success. We propose that adherence to both the management principles and the management process will lead to improved employee engagement. The theoretical model is illustrated in Figure 1. The model includes three constructs: management principles, management process, and employee engagement. Both the management principles (hypotheses 1) and the management process (hypotheses 2) are hypothesized as positively associated with employee engagement.

Employee engagement

Since the Gallup Organization's development of the Q12 (a survey instrument to measure employee engagement) over a decade ago (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999), articles in the area of employee engagement have appeared in great abundance in the management literature. These range from defining the concept to the benefits of increased employee engagement to ways to improve the level of engagement. The primary driver of this attention to engagement has undoubtedly been overwhelming evidence that high levels of employee engagement significantly impact employee and organizational performance. One recent study (among volumes of practitioner and academic articles or studies) by WorkUSA (2008/2009) found that highly engaged employees work at firms with 26 percent higher revenue per employee, 13 percent higher returns to shareholders over five years, and a 50 percent higher market premium-suggesting that higher employee engagement significantly leads to improved business performance.

Trahant (2009) states that the research is clear that "highly-engaged employees are twice as likely as less-engaged workers to be top performers in their organizations; three-quarters of highly engaged employees exceed or far exceed job performance expectations". As was the case with organizational performance, volumes of evidence exist that indicate the same basic conclusions. Couple the organizational and individual performance findings with overwhelming evidence that the workforce is heavily represented by employees who are not engaged or disengaged and it's easy to understand the increased focus on the construct.

The 2009 Gallup Employee Engagement Index (Fox, 2010) found that 33 percent of workers are engaged, 49 percent are not engaged, and 18 percent are actively disengaged. Note: The study identified engaged employees as those who...

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