In the article Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work (1990) Kahn describes employee engagement as the combination of three conditions: psychological meaningfulness, psychological safety, and psychological availability. This article is the basis of the reflection on employee engagement. It is important to understand those principles in order to continue any discussion about employee engagement.
The psychological meaningfulness relates to employees’ need to feel valued about their work by others and by themselves. The creation of clear goals, with adequate level of challenge juxtaposed with creativity and autonomy help developed a feeling of meaningfulness.
The psychological safety relates to the relationship of the employee with his coworker and superiors. The employee has to feel supported by his coworker and superior in his everyday work. The dynamic of groups, the management style and the organizational norms have to be “predictable, consistent and nonthreatening” (Kahn 1990).
The psychological availability relates to the availability of emotional and psychological energies to perform the work. Furthermore, the feeling of security and confidence “in own abilities and status, self-consciousness and ambivalence about fit with social system”. The outside life also can impact psychological availability. Employee with high psychological availability will not be distracted in their work.
Finally, engaged employee feel safe, available and have a sense of meaningfulness You may still wonder why you should care about Employee engagement? Here are some reasons:
- Engaged employees go for the extra mile when needed while non-engaged employees stop working as soon as their time is done.
- Engaged employees care about their organization and do their best to fulfill their requirements and sometimes surprise you.
- Engaged people are productive.