The Meaning of Employee Engagement


  • William H. Macey, Valtera Corporation; Benjamin Schneider, Valtera Corporation and University of Maryland.

    We appreciate the thoughtful comments of our colleagues Karen Barbera and Scott Young as well as constructive feedback from Paul Sackett and Allen Kraut.

William H. Macey. E-mail:
Address: Valtera Corporation, 1701 Golf Road, Suite 2-1100 Rolling Meadows, IL 60008


The meaning of employee engagement is ambiguous among both academic researchers and among practitioners who use it in conversations with clients. We show that the term is used at different times to refer to psychological states, traits, and behaviors as well as their antecedents and outcomes. Drawing on diverse relevant literatures, we offer a series of propositions about (a) psychological state engagement; (b) behavioral engagement; and (c) trait engagement. In addition, we offer propositions regarding the effects of job attributes and leadership as main effects on state and behavioral engagement and as moderators of the relationships among the 3 facets of engagement. We conclude with thoughts about the measurement of the 3 facets of engagement and potential antecedents, especially measurement via employee surveys.