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There is anecdotal evidence that employee disengagement is increasing. Critically discuss the importance of engaged workers to organisational success.

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Critical Discussion of the Importance of Engaged Workers to Organizational Success

Critical Discussion of the Importance of Engaged Workers to Organizational Success

Critical Discussion of the Importance of Engaged Workers to Organizational Success


From the time of inception in organization behavior research, worker engagement and disengagement research has intensified considerably (Fairlie 2011, p. 509). Despite having anecdotal proof that employee disengagement is actually increasing, theories have shown that employees engagement is beneficial hence the need to instill it in organizations. Therefore, this essay will critically discuss the importance of engaged workers to organizational success. To put this discussion into context, the assay will define both engagement and disengagement and analyze what causes worker disengagement. In addition, the essay will describe why is disengagement increasing in today’s business environment, it implications of worker disengagement and how organizations can improve worker engagement.

Definition of worker engagement or disengagement

Over the years, different scholars, authors and research have provided different definitions of worker engagement and worker disengagement hence bringing confusion. In fact, some authors like Wollard (2011, p. 526) have claimed that these concepts and poorly defined. However, the most acceptable definition is that worker engagement is the approach used in workplace leading to best conditions and attitude for every staff to perform to their level best everyday while dedicated to contribute to organizational value and goals and values, with the improved nature of their well-being. Jackie (n.d) opined that employees as social beings are influenced by their motivation, attitude and feeling to perform at the workplace. Another research conducted by Whiteoak and Mohamed (2016, p.291) through surveys and focus group interview supported the sentiment that feeling safety improves the workers’ productivity.

On the other hand, worker disengagement is described as the situation in workplaces where employees discontinue personal-self or positive attitude towards their job roles. Studies claim that disengagement takes place when the employees are not attracted to their work owing to some working or personal conditions. Wollard (2011, p. 528) posited that disengagement is typified by the detachment of the people from their job roles to defend themselves mentally, emotionally and physically from the perceived real threats. Wollard (2011, p. 528) added that detachment happens when a worker does not find any meaning in their work, when they think an organization lack purpose, frustration within the work environment and when one’s life is stagnated. As a result of some frustrations, it is believed that disengaged workers do not produce their full potential, and are less committed.

Causes of worker disengagement

Researches have found several causes of disengagement include distrust, poor leadership, workplace bullying, respect, education, organizational ethical problem, self-confidence, safety and employee dissatisfaction among others. Wollard (2011, p. 528) believes that distrust between the employee and the employer can cause disengagement. Distrust normally manifest when the manager stops giving a serious assignment to employees. In addition, Distrust emerges when the manager no longer communicate important issues to an employee. Such situations cause the worker to start questioning their competence and will eventually feel unwanted hence becoming disengaged. Employees feel respected when their opinions and ideas are taken into consideration during the decision making and their contribution is felt. However, the manager does not respect a worker and show that through abuses and criticism they feel less valued hence showing negative attitude towards their work. Poor leadership has also been identified as a cause for worker disengagement. A study conducted by Journal Record (2016) at business new organization found out that 47% of employees felt that poor leadership greatly caused worker disengagement. A research conducted by Whiteoak and Mohamed (2016, p. 294) that when an employ feels unsafe in their workplace, their mind is taken aware from the work hence becoming disengaged.

Why disengagement is increasing in today’s business environment

In the several literature reviewed, a trend has been found where there is an increase in worker disengagement in today’s business environment. Research has recognized that factors like personality traits, moral reasoning orientations and abilities, and the dispositional ethical emotions makes workers to ethically disengage (Moore et al., 2012, p. 3). Personal trait like machiavellianism has been identified to make one to morally or ethical disengage. Machiavellianism is a trait where one tends to be ruthless and manipulative in the quest for self-interest goals. Moore et al. (2012, p. 7) pointed out that people with such trait can lie, are anti social and ready to exploit others. When an employ with such trait does not succeed in their manipulative ways to achieve personal success, they tend to disengage. Ethical reasoning is contributed by cognitive moral development (CMD). The research claim that people with high cognitive CMD have less unethical choices and if guided to or influenced to make certain decisions, they easily disengage. Increase in unbalanced work-life has also been cited as cause for increasing of disengagement in today’s business environment. It is believed that competition and quest for more profit has made companies to force employees to work longer hours leading low morale and stress hence disengagement. A research conducted by Bersin (2014) held that over 40% of employees work up to 50 hours in a week.

The implications of worker disengagement

With worker disengagement increasing today’s business environment, several implications of the situation have been found and is believed to intensely affecting organization performance. Disengagement is of two types including physical and psychological, and each has its implication on the organization (Kiriakidis 2008, p. 572). For instance, lateness and absenteeism are some of the physical characteristic of worker and are believed to be resulted by lack of motivation. A company which experiences worker lateness and absenteeism are likely not to compete effectively because they cannot meet the deadline of various projects thus leading to low performance. Other implications of worker engagement include a high rate of employee turnover, employee theft and mental health disorders among others. The research has established that high rate of employees’ turnover leads to high cost of operations as the organization has frequently recruit new employees and trains them (Wollard 2011, p. 527-528). Disengagement manifests itself in the form of burnout. Fairlie (2011, p. 520) argued that in the state of burnout, the worker is mentally tired and cannot perform to their full potential, and the situation also affects the organizational performance.

What organizations can do to improve worker engagement

There is great need to for organization to improve worker engagement due to its significance in 21st century organization. Some of the ways the organization can improve worker engagement include surveying worker engagement, having inspiring leader, emphasizing on the engagement at organizational levels and training. Surveying of the engagement on an annual basis has been fronted as the first step to improving worker engagement. The survey will inform the manager of level of disengagement hence will create an approach to overcome the situation. Having the inspiring leader is also away to improve worker engagement. The manager which treats employees with respect, trust, and have good leadership skills is worth having since they possess the right skills to engage workers (Michael Page 2014). Lastly, training or human resource development has been found to improve worker engagement. Fairlie (2011, p. 509) contended that managers can improve worker engagement by designing training which enable an employ to acquire job-specific skills, knowledge and abilities hence reducing frustration.


In conclusion, the essay has found out that worker engagement or disengagement is a top agenda that an organization must address in the 21st century if they want to be competitive and successful. The literature reviewed has found out that worker disengagement leads to low morale, lateness, absenteeism, employee turnover, employee theft and mental health disorders among others. The factors highly contribute to the high cost of operation and low organizational performance. Therefore, organization must survey their level of disengagement and have the right manager address the situation through leadership skills and training.


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Fairlie, P 2011, ‘Meaningful Work, Employee Engagement, and Other Key Employee Outcomes:

Implications for Human Resource Development’, Advances in Developing Human Resources, vol.13, no. 4, pp. 508-525.

Jackie, S n.d., ‘Social media draws young workers via engagement’, New Orleans Citybusiness

(LA), Regional Business News.

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Indices of Social Dysfunction’, International Journal Of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, vol.52, no.5, pp. 571-583.

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Moore, C, Detert, J, Treviño, L, Baker, V, & Mayer, D 2012, ‘Why Employees Do Bad Things:

Moral Disengagement and Unethical Organizational Behavior’, Personnel Psychology, vol.65, no.1, pp. 1-48.

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Wollard, KK 2011, ‘Quiet Desperation: Another Perspective on Employee

Engagement’, Advances in Developing Human Resources, vol.13, no.4, pp. 526-53