The Emergence of the Employee Engagement Concept

  • Jan Hendrick Nel
  • Bennie Linde


This chapter explores the development of engagement through a historical lens using a systematic review of the literature to gain a better understanding of the concepts and frameworks on engagement to develop a foundation for a new framework to address the low levels of engagement in a unionised environment. Literature indicates that there are several definitions of employee engagement in existence and yet there is a lack of consensus regarding the meaning and distinctiveness of employee engagement from other constructs (Saks and Gruman, Hum Resour Dev Q 25(2): 155–182, 2014). Just as there are several definitions of employee engagement, several theories of engagement exist. There are four major theoretical approaches to define the existing state of engagement, namely the need-satisfying approach, the burnout-antithesis approach, the satisfaction-engagement approach, and the multidimensional approach (Shuck, Hum Resour Dev Rev 10(3): 304–328, 2011).


Conceptualisation of engagement Definitions of employee engagement Low levels of engagement Theoretical approaches Unionised environment 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Hendrick Nel
    • 1
  • Bennie Linde
    • 2
  1. 1.People and Business SolutionsBDO South AfricaJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Economic and Management FacultyNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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