• Employee Engagement, Motivation, Resilience, and Leadership: An exploration of relationships within a Higher Education Institution

      Thomas, Mike; Rowland, Caroline; Mulliner, Julie (University of Chester, 2018-02-09)
      This study seeks to explore, in one particular UK Higher Educational Institution (HEI), the relationships between engagement, motivation, resilience and the quality of the relationship between managers and those being managed. A literature review provides salient themes relating to the four concepts of: employee engagement, motivation, emotional resilience, and leadership. The changing landscape of the University sector in the UK is also considered for contextual purposes. A mixed methods approach was used to explore relationships between these four concepts. Methods included: observation, focus groups, questionnaires and interviews. Findings from this study indicate that motivation, resilience, engagement and leadership all interrelate; but that leadership interrelated with the other concepts to a lesser extent. Prerequisites of engagement were found to be motivation and resilience, both of which were inter-reliant and as such were difficult to separate. Prerequisites of motivation and resilience were found to be individuals’ personality characteristics, mind-set and thinking style. Higher quality relationships with managers were consistently associated with higher effort, whereas lower quality relationships ranged from making no difference to the exertion of effort, to being a minor irritation in the background, to adversely affecting effort and resilience. Specific leadership attributes and behaviours were found to be more influential in terms of creating affinity between the line manager and follower which were more likely to positively influence engagement, motivation and resilience. Conclusions indicate that the majority of effort is influenced by an individual’s personality characteristics, mind-set and thinking style. The minority of effort therefore was influenced by external factors such as job enjoyment, as a loci of engagement, and autonomy, as a determinant of engagement. The role of a leader is therefore critical in terms of creating and maintaining an engaging work environment. Certain leadership attributes such as gaining trust, being genuinely caring and compassionate and having a positive outlook were positively associated with the followers having a stronger emotional attachment to the organisation manifesting in increased engagement, motivation and resilience. Practical recommendations for senior leaders in organisations, people managers and HR practitioners include: creating operational clarity and clarity of vision; creating and maintaining a culture of care and support; developing leadership attributes and competencies which are key to achieving an engaged workforce; and implementing practices to facilitate job satisfaction, personal and professional growth and a climate of team collegiality which were found to be the three most important work related factors which positively influenced engagement. This research contributes by bringing a new dimension to employee engagement, motivation, resilience and leadership, adding to the existing literature relating to these four concepts. Three different perspectives are presented and one conceptual approach, relating to these four concepts. Each perspective and approach contains elements which can be applied by HR professionals and organisational leaders to create a culture of employee engagement. This study provides a questionnaire that may be used by other organisations to determine engagement strategies and policies.
    • Higher Education Academy impact study report - University of Chester

      Willis, Karen; University of Chester (2007)
      This study aims to examine aspects of the impact of work based learning on both employees and employers and forms part of a larger scale study undertaken by the HE Academy. Employees who had successfully completed work based learning programmes of study at undergraduate level (excluding Foundation Degrees) were interviewed as, where possible, was their line manager or employer representative. Several issues arose concerning access to employers for interviews, which in some cases extended to difficulties in gaining access to former learners from organisational cohorts. Evidence emerging from the study highlights the effectiveness of higher level negotiated work based learning programmes in developing employees in ways that extend beyond role-specific competence. In particular, benefits in the development of self-awareness; learning to think and question; and improved confidence and work performance were valued by employees and employers alike. Work based learning projects, involving the reflection on practical experience, were thought to have benefited both individuals and organisations. More than half of the employees interviewed have since changed jobs or gained promotion, and the majority are now engaged in further higher level programmes of study. Employer support is seen to be an important factor for most learners, but not for all. The role of the HE tutor, though, is seen by learners as central to their success. Credit accumulation and accreditation of prior learning and experience are significant stages in engaging learners and facilitating their progression. Most learners are highly self-motivating, but cohort learners on programmes designed through employers need to be supported by them in the course of their studies. In-house programmes linked to assessment for HE accreditation need to be well-integrated and learners clearly advised by the employer on the commitment and expectations.