Employee Engagement, Motivation, Resilience, and Leadership: An exploration of relationships within a Higher Education Institution
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AbstractThis 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.
CitationMulliner, J. (2018). Employee Engagement, Motivation, Resilience, and Leadership: An exploration of relationships within a Higher Education Institution. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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