Employee Engagement and SHRM: A Literature Review

The placement day market place for ideas, products and services has become competitive. For this reason, organizations have had to look for ways to increase their competitiveness and one area that has garnered growing attention is employee engagement (Albrecht et al., 2015; Wallace et al., 2016). Organizations have come to recognize that employees constitute an important part in the fulfillment of the former’s strategies, with employee engagement emerging as an HR area of importance (Albrecht et al., 2015). 

Innovation is a fundamental driver of products and service differentiation and organizations have come to recognize that their human resources potentially provide the adaptations they need to remain competitive (e Silva & da Silva Lima, 2017). Scholars have recognized that HR managers need to reinterpret their practice in order to increase employee engagement (Marler & Parry, 2016; NGA HR, 2018; Schifrin & Shaw, 2017).  For example, Wallace et al. (2016) highlight qualities such as volition, freedom and self-determination as an important predicators of increasing employee engagement (p. 983). The foregoing qualities are essential in attraction, selection, motivation, and retention of talented personnel is the primary focus of HRM (e Silva & da Silva Lima, 2017; Wallace et al., 2016; Glaister et al., 2018). To illustrate, training, rewards and work designs have become crucial to the functioning of high performance work systems aimed at ensuring maximum employee productivity (Glaister et al., 2018).

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However, the HR processes have to complement an overarching strategy to guide HR-related processes such as job security and mentorship (Glaister et al., 2018). Having a major focus enables an organization direct its resources to areas that need the same as well as ensure employees have a focus to work towards (CIPD Report, 2018). In this regard, creativity is crucial to ensuring that the interpretation of various data enables the organization to motivate its employees increase their productivity without recourse to constraints and pressures (Wallace et al., 2016). According to Boudreau and Ramstand (2005, cited in Glaister et al., 2018), employees have become the resource of choice in sustaining competitiveness (p. 148). 

People analytics takes diverse data sets and interprets them in relation to the organization’s objectives and the available capacities. Subsequently, the people analytics team formulates interventions aimed at increasing productivity at the workplace (Schifrin & Shaw, 2017).  Still, there are challenges HR managers have to overcome in using HR data to increase employee engagement. According to one report, reporting requirements stalled the rapidity with which managers were able to act on recommendations from HR (NGA HR, 2018). Among the reporting requirements that managers highlighted included the improvement of reporting timelines and the accuracy of the reports (NGA HR, 2018). People analytics function in the SHRM has proved to be a useful resource in the collection and evaluation of data in relation to enhancing employee participation at the workplace (Schifrin & Shaw, 2017). 

The simplification of HR reports also featured prominently among senior administrators that desired to ensure they alighted their HR with the organization’s extant strategies (NGA HR 2018). Information technologies have considerably eased the collection, processing, storage and retrieval of information, with implications for HR practices and processes (e Silva & da Silva Lima, 2017). For example, Marler and Parry (2016) look at electronic HRM technology (e-HRM) and its impact on how organizations presently manage HR (p. 2235). Still, the evolution of information technologies also means constant changes in how HR departments accomplish their tasks (e Silva & da Silva Lima, 2017).

In addition to traditional functions such as participation, remuneration and welfare, HR also work with existing social, legal, technological and economic factors that influence employee engagement (e Silva & da Silva Lima, 2017). A prescient challenge for HR practitioners today is not only isolating useful data, but also innovating ways to interpret the same and convert it into actionable strategies (e Silva & da Silva Lima, 2017). For example, demographic as well as economic pressures are compelling HR practitioners to rethink the HR paradigms (Glaister et al., 2018). 

Employers in the past never concerned themselves with engaging their employees, rationalizing that compensation and adequate work environments were all the necessities employees needed for productivity (Mann & Harter, 2016). However, talent management has become indispensable in positioning employees within the organization in a manner that adds the most value to the organization (Glaister et al., 2018). Additionally, employee engagement has required a paradigm change from monitoring and direction-based engagement to ensuring the collection and objective evaluation of empirical data to identify gaps in business processes (Mann & Harter, 2016). To decrease the lapses in time between the generation of HR reports and action on them, e-HRM is promising to completely reconfigure existing HR practices with emphasis shifting from administration to strategic relevance (Marler & Parry, 2016).

Additionally, to ensure that employee engagement efforts yield desirable outcomes, it is imperative that the employers commit to objectively evaluating all feedback, foremost being issues that employees and customers (Mann and Harter, 2016). The shift to data-driven HR practices has compelled a reliance on innovative frameworks to contextualize data within the organization’s existing needs (Wallace et al., 2016). The Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) people analytics team within its HR department exemplifies the adoption of an innovative framework to enhance employee engagement (Schifrin & Shaw, 2017). The improvement of the RBC’s business outcomes confirms the CIPD Report’s (2018) findings of a people analytics culture positively correlating with better organizational performance (p. 10; Schifrin & Shaw, 2017). 

Effective employee engagement is contingent on a reliance on objective, scientifically validated data In lieu of relying on instinctive prompts as has been the past (Mann & Harter, 2016). Although factors such as remuneration, creative work spaces and benefits such as holiday tours and so forth do motive employees, studies have found that a focus on self-development is critical in maintaining employee engagement overtime (Wallace et al., 2016; CIPD Report, 2018). Rather than focusing on administrative roles, e-HRM enables HR practitioners to focus on the more demanding aspects of their practice such as mentorship and skill improvement (Marler & Parry, 2016). Finally, social factors such as diversity and equality as well as employee relations and ethics also contributed to the extent to which employees remain engaged with their jobs (CIPD Report, 2018).


Albrecht, S. L., Bakker, A. B., Gruman, J. A., Macey, W. H., & Saks, A. M. (2015). Employee engagement, human resource management practices and competitive advantage: An integrated approach. Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, 2(1), 7-35. 

CIPD Report (2018). People analytics: driving business performance with people data. Available at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/people-analytics-report_tcm18-43755.pdf

e Silva, M. S. A., & da Silva Lima, C. G. (2017). The Role of Information Systems in Human Resource Management. In Management of Information Systems – IntechOpen. Retrieved from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/management-of-information-systems/the-role-of-information-systems-in-human-resource-management

Glaister, A. J., Karacay, G., Demirbag, M., & Tatoglu, E. (2018). HRM and performance: The role of talent management as a transmission mechanism in an emerging market context. Human Resource Management Journal28(1), 148-166. 

Mann, A., & Harter, J. (2016). The worldwide employee engagement crisis. Gallup Retrieved from com/businessjournal/188033/worldwide-employee-engagement-crisis.aspx?version=print”>http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/188033/worldwide-employee-engagement-crisis.aspx?version=print 

Marler, J. H., & Parry, E. (2016). Human resource management, strategic involvement and e-HRM technology. The International Journal of Human Resource Management27(19), 2233-2253. 

NGA Human Resources (2018) HR data: Great power, great responsibility Retrieved from https://www.hranalytics.org.uk/app/download/15113810/HR+Data+Great+power%2C+great+responsibility.pdf 

Schifrin, D., & Shaw, K. (2017) Royal Bank of Canada: Using people strategy and analytics
to drive employee performance (A). Retrieved from: https://hbsp.harvard.edu/tu/1ce9d847Wallace, J. C., Butts, M. M., Johnson, P. D., Stevens, F. G., & Smith, M. B. (2016). A Multilevel Model of Employee Innovation: Understanding the Effects of Regulatory Focus, Thriving, and Employee Involvement Climate. Journal of Management, 42(4), 982-1004 https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206313506462

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