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Strategic HRM and employee engagement

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

Publication date18/10/2013
Host publicationEmployee engagement in theory and practice
EditorsCatherine Truss, Kerstin Alfes, Rick Delbridge, Amanda Shantz, Emma Soane
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9780415657426
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This chapter analyses the purposes to which HR functions put employee engagement strategies, and how these strategies should fit into the total HR strategy. It analyses the assumptions that are being made in practice, both about the nature of employee engagement, and about the ways in which it contributes to organizational performance. It identifies the challenges and directions being taken by organizations when they use employee engagement as a basis for HR strategy and argues that we should use the engagement strategy as the unit of analysis, rather than individual levels of engagement. It discusses the challenges involved in explaining employee engagement as a strategic narrative, principally by examining the performance recipes involved in the delivery of two high-level strategic drivers in organizations – innovation and lean management. It considers how the delivery of these outcomes might be associated with employee engagement. Finally, it draws some conclusions about the implications of the analysis for HR practice.
We must acknowledge that many practitioners and academics now take conflicting views about the utility of engagement strategies, and are more or less likely to be persuaded that the dictates of practice and the need for action (of any kind) might override some of the growing caution, and competing intellectual inheritance, and ongoing debate, that surrounds the topic. Others might agree with the diagnosis in this chapter, but not the prognosis. It is necessary, therefore, to begin by restating some of the principles of my work in this field – to lay out my own observations, beliefs and assumptions – before then moving to the main argument – which is that we are seeing a maturation of work on employee engagement which is 2 leading HR functions to think carefully about the performance claims that they make, and, hopefully, about the most appropriate engagement strategies and structures to put in place.