Are You Engaged at Work? Are Your Employees Engaged at Work?

Published on Jan 10, 2017.

A look at 3 areas that matter…

Studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between employee engagement and employee performance; whereby, making it a key factor in organizational success. However, according to Gallup’s latest polls on engagement, although 30 percent of the nearly 100 million people who hold full-time jobs in America are engaged and inspired at work, approximately 20 percent of employees are actively disengaged. In the middle are 50 percent of employees who are not engaged; they are at work, but not inspired.

What leads to work engagement? Research has shown that there are 3 key areas that contribute most to whether an employee is engaged at work: meaningfulness, safety, and availability.

If you are wondering about the level of engagement for yourself, personally, or for those you lead, ask these 3 questions:


Meaningfulness is experienced when an employee feels valued and feels that he or she is giving to and receiving from others; meaningfulness includes work that is “challenging, clearly delineated, varied, creative, and somewhat autonomous”.

Is work SAFE?

Safety entails a sense of being authentic without fear of negative repercussions to self-image, career, or status. In addition, safe work situations are trustworthy, predictable, and secure. Group dynamics, leadership, and organizational norms are important elements of safety.

Are employees AVAILABLE?

Availability is “the sense of having the physical, emotional, and psychological resources to personally engage at a particular moment”2. This concept has to do with employees’ capacity at any point in time. Is there too much on their plate? Is the work too strenuous in physical, emotional, or psychological ways?

Two important themes emerge from the research on engagement. First, work engagement involves a psychological connection with activities done at work. Second, work engagement comprises the self-investment of personal resources, involving the willingness to invest physical, cognitive, and emotional resources in one’s work. There is integral relationship between an employee’s full self (physical, cognitive, and emotional) energies and the subsequent connection to work role performances. Engaged employees are described as being fully present.

The 3 key aspects of engagement are meaningfulness, safety, and availability. What can you change in your job to increase one or all of these 3 areas? How can you invest more physically, emotionally, and cognitively in your work? And, if you are a leader, how can you increase engagement for your employees?

Written by Christa Sandidge
Assistant Director
Center for Professional Development


Bakker, A. B., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2015). Work engagement. Wiley Encyclopedia of Management. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. doi:10.1002/9781118785317.weom110009

Christian, M. S., Garza, A. S., & Slaughter, J. E. (2011). Work engagement: A quantitative review and test of its relations with task and contextual performance. Personnel Psychology, 64(1), 89-136. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2010.01203.x

Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33(4), 692-724. doi:10.2307/256287

Rich, B. L., Lepine, J. A., & Crawford, E. R. (2010). Job engagement: Antecedents and effects on job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 53(3), 617-635. doi:10.5465/AMJ.2010.51468988

1 Kahn - p. 704

2 Kahn - p. 714