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Employee engagement

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Engagement is a key buzzword in 21st century management. Strategic human resource management rests on the belief that people are the key to achieving competitive advantage. Employees need to be seen as assets to be developed, not costs to be controlled. This free course explores three key themes: employee engagement, employee involvement and collective aspects of employee relations.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • identify and describe the meaning of employee engagement and its different components
  • appreciate the strategic issues associated with employee engagement
  • describe the changes in systems of employee relations
  • appreciate the impact of structures of management and ownership on employee engagement
  • reflect on the current state of employee engagement in an organisation.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 10 hours
  • Updated Monday 21st March 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Money & Management
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Employee engagement


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Engagement is one of the key buzzwords in 21st century management. The strategic human resources management (SHRM) approach is founded on the belief that people are the key differentiators in achieving competitive advantage. Employees need to be managed skilfully and seen as assets to be developed rather than costs to be controlled.

Employee engagement is therefore central to the ideology and practice of SHRM. But what does it mean to be engaged in work? How can engagement be encouraged? How does the reality of working conditions affect these attempts? To what extent does the structure of management and ownership in organisations affect the prospects of employee engagement?

In this free course we explore these questions though three key themes:

  • the concept of employee engagement
  • employee involvement and participation
  • collective aspects of employee relations.

We shall also examine how the wider context of employment relationship affects how engagement is understood and the methods used to encourage it.

In this free course, we define engagement as ‘a set of positive attitudes and behaviours enabling high job performance of a kind which is in tune with the organisation’s mission’.

Employee engagement is therefore vital to the success of organisations. Engaged employees are likely to be more satisfied, committed and productive in their work. In economies increasingly dominated by service industries, good customer relations – built by engaged employees – are central to success.

This free course works by building on your own experiences as employees and managers of different kinds of organisations. The organisation for which you work and those with whom you come into contact all make choices as to how they engage with their workforce. These choices raise all kinds of dilemmas and this free course aims to make you aware of these. It will also equip you with knowledge if you have to make these choices for yourself.

We shall see in this free course that strategies for and experiences of employee engagement differ. These differences are strongly influenced by contextual factors like organisational and industry norms and the wider environment of employee relations.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course BB845 Strategic human resource management [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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