Cornell University

Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies

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2007 Spring Partner Conference White Paper Collection

Employee Engagement: What Do We Really Know? What Do We Need To Know To Take Action?


The following white papers were prepared by CAHRS graduate research assistants, with the generous support of CAHRS partners, for the spring 2007 partner conference in Paris, France on the topic of employee engagement. The papers examined the current issues affecting employee engagement and the practice of HR, providing an account of key emerging trends and the wide range of both academic- and practitioner-based literature on the subject.



Employee Engagement: I WANT IT, what is it?

There is confusion and misdirection as to what exactly employee engagement is.  The primary causes of this confusion and misdirection are a lack of congruity concerning the definition and measurement of employee engagement and a lack of distinction from other closely related concepts. This paper addresses these issues in greater detail as well as provides advice for human resource leaders.

Employee Engagement and Fairness in the Workplace

There is little doubt that employee engagement can be strengthened by fairness and its related elements, just as employee engagement can be weakened by unfairness and the like. As both the workforce and the workplace evolve, organizations may find that in order to win the “war for talent,” they must first win the battle for employees’ hearts. Justice, trust, perception and risks are only a few pieces of a greater puzzle; and their roles are can be made clearer. This paper clarifies these roles and addresses the links between fairness and engagement as well as discusses the impacts of perceived unfair treatment on engagement.

Old Wine in New Bottles? Engagement and the Bottom Line

Beginning with a discussion of employee engagement as a theoretical construct and its operation within the firm, this paper examines the extant research linking engagement, and related measures of employee attitudes and commitment, with bottom-line financial results. From here, discrepancies between and within the academic and practitioner literatures are addressed as are possible alternative explanations of the engagement-business-outcome relationship. Last, the implications for HR managers and executives are considered.

Employee Engagement and Change Management

This paper provides an overview of change management and employee engagement.  It details background information on the two concepts; relates the two concepts to each other; introduces findings on the relationship between organizational commitment and change management; discusses types, key functions, and strategies of change management; and presents barriers to as well as success stories about engagement during change management initiatives.

Communicating for Engagement

By now, it has become common knowledge among HR executives and the employees within their respective firms that the nature of internal communication within the organization can have a dramatic, if not revolutionary, impact on the conduct of business. However, the methods of communication your company employs as well as the manner in which those methods are carried out can have a large effect on both the process and results of your company’s efforts to get the workforce engaged. This paper explores how to maximize the effectiveness of your company’s engagement efforts by maximizing the effectiveness of communication within the firm.

"Seeing Clearly:" Employee Engagement and Line of Sight

Establishing a clear line of sight and building an employer brand around it from inside the organization while leveraging leadership, communication, employee development and corporate & social responsibility may not be something entirely new to the world of strategic HRM, but it does appear to be a worthwhile investment, especially with regard to employee engagement. This paper examines engagement as it relates to employment these subjects and offers suggestions for HR practitioners.