A Research Agenda for Employee Engagement in a Changing World of Work
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A Research Agenda for Employee Engagement in a Changing World of Work

Edited by John P. Meyer and Benjamin Schneider

This insightful Research Agenda presents the foundations of employee engagement, providing a framework for future research to serve as an evidence-based guide to practice. Offering an overview of contemporary engagement theory and research, it addresses important new directions for expanding our current understanding of the meaning, focus, development and outcomes of engagement. 
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Chapter 2: Multiple targets and referents of employee engagement

Alan M. Saks


Most research on employee engagement has been on work or job engagement. This is a serious shortcoming because employee engagement is a role-specific construct which means that individuals have different levels of engagement in every role that they occupy. In organizations, employees perform multiple roles (worker, co-worker, team member) and, as a result, their engagement may not only vary in each role but their engagement in one role can have a spillover effect on their engagement in other roles. Thus, employee engagement research needs to consider different roles or targets of employee engagement beyond work and job engagement. In addition, more attention needs to be given to the referent (the respondents themselves, the team, the organization) used as a frame of reference to measure employee engagement. In this chapter, I discuss the main targets of employee engagement in organizations and make an important distinction between targets and referents of employee engagement. The chapter provides suggestions for future research on the targets and referents of employee engagement and the need for a multidimensional approach to engagement research, theory, and practice.

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