Disecting Employee Engagement – Individual Employees

Two Dimensional view of Subjective Wellbeing

Individual employee engagement, ties back to the two dimensional view of subjective wellbeing (Russell, 2003) noting that emotions will determine the range of engagement.[i]

Subjective Wellbeing

The model is based on two neurophysiological systems of pleasure and activation. Bakker and Oerleman[ii] have position work engagement in the upper right quadrant of the model as it resembles high levels of pleasure and activation.  While burnout can be positioned in the lower left quadrant as it resembles low levels of pleasure and activation.

This helps depict why we are able to divide employees into 5 different levels of engagement when conducting surveys. It also displays that there is a relationship between burnout and engagement. This model depicts engagement and burnout as two sides of the same, albeit imperfectly shaped coin. The implication is that in order to facilitate work engagement employers need to create an environment in which employees feel enthusiastic, energized, happy, and pleased because their jobs are both active and pleasant. If burnout represents the negative aspect of engagement, therefore one can stipulate that engagement has a dark side. Research focuses on an equilibrium and equity being built into the employer-employee dynamic whereby both employers and employees negotiate and perceive an appropriate balance. However, it is evident that engagement may foster greater demands, and work-family conflict. (Sonnentag, Binnewies & Mojza, 2010).  Furthermore, if we apply the two dimensional view of subjective well-being may change not only on a daily basis but fluctuate on an hour by hour basis as it is heavily rooted in the emotional context of the individual. It is important to note that the results of any such engagement study is subject to being a snapshot in time and may present results that are only applicable to that particular situation rather than the entire organization. In order to truly achieve a genuine system of engagement employees and employers need to work together creating a positive, trusting, civil, respectful, and mutually beneficial working relationship, which leads to equity, opportunity and growth within the system. Some practical actions can be taken when trying to create energy, involvement and efficacy within the system, primarily they start with creating and communicating a clear vision that all employees will understand and create strong ties to the organization that bind.


[i] Bakker, Arnold B. , Albrecht, Simon L. and Leiter, Michael P.(2011) Work engagement: Further

reflections on the state of play, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 20: 1, 74 — 88

[ii] ibid

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