In Search of: Employee or Work Engagement

This issue's search example uses the OvidSP platform to search for research on how an engaged employee contributes to improved business outcomes in terms of productivity and profit.


Employee engagement or work engagement is an important concept in organizational psychology and is related to theory from the field of positive psychology. An engaged employee is defined as an individual who has focus and energy, takes initiative in their personal development, adapts to change, and contributes to organizational objectives. From an organizational perspective, an engaged employee contributes to improved business outcomes in terms of productivity and profit.

This example shows how to search for these concepts in PsycINFO® on OvidSP Basic Search, Advanced Search, and Multi-Field Search, and using the Search Fields option.

Build Your Search

The first step is to define your search concepts. The literature consistently refers to employee engagement, work engagement, or worker engagement. In this search we have used a combination of these concepts in our search statement:

employee engagement OR work* engagement

Let's try this using the different search options on OvidSP. Select PsycINFO from the available database options.

Basic Search

In Basic Search, you can enter a group of terms for your concept, type in a full query in everyday English, or copy-and-paste a title. Leave the Check Spelling box checked. If you use the Include Related Terms, the search will expand to include synonyms, acronyms, and variant spellings.

Screen Shot from OvidSP Basic Search

Screen Shot from OvidSP Basic Search, Include Related Terms

Using Basic Search will retrieve a large number of results. You can narrow this in a number of ways in Display with the Search Aids, including filtering by star ranking and narrowing by Subjects, Authors, or Journals:

Screen Shot from OvidSP Basic Search, Narrowing Results

Advanced Search

Keyword searching is the default search on the Advanced Search mode. Select or click the Keyword radio button and type a term or phrase in the command line. Click the Search button to begin Keyword searching. This will search the Title, Abstract, Heading Word, Table of Contents, and Key Concepts:

Screen Shot from OvidSP Advanced Search

Screen Shot from OvidSP Advanced Keywords Search

Multi-Field Search

To limit your search to the keywords field only (called alternatively Key Concepts and Identifiers in OvidSP), you can use the Multi-Field Search screen and enter your search terms—"employee engagement" or "work* engagement"—and select Key Concepts from the drop-down menu.

Notice the difference in the numbers of results you retrieve with the different search options.

Screen Shot from OvidSP Multi Field Identifiers Search

Screen Shot from OvidSP Multi Field Keywords Search

Search Fields

Finally, you have the option of command-line searching in OvidSP. If you are familiar with the search fields available for PsycINFO® on the OvidSP platform you can search using the field label for Identifiers, or Key Concepts:

Screen Shot from OvidSP - Key Concepts

Screen Shot from OvidSP - Identifiers Search Field

Screen Shot from OvidSP - Key Concepts Search Field

Selected References

  • Attridge, M. (2009). Measuring and managing employee work engagement: A review of the research and business literature. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 24, 383-398. doi: 10.1080/15555240903188398
  • Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2009). The crossover of work engagement between working couples: A closer look at the role of empathy. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24, 220-236. doi: 10.11 08/02683940910939313
  • Cameron-Strother, A. H. (2009). The causal relationship inherent in the alliance of lean infrastructures, employee engagement, leadership impact, and team dynamics in modern manufacturing environments. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. 70(3), 932A.
  • Federman, B. (2009). Employee engagement: A roadmap for creating profits, optimizing performance, and increasing loyalty. San Francisco, CA, US, Jossey-Bass.
  • Fine, S., Horowitz, I., Weigler, H., & Basis, L. (2010). Is good character good enough? The effects of situational variables on the relationship between integrity and counterproductive work behaviors. Human Resource Management Review, 20, 73-84. doi: 10.1016/j.hrmr.2009.03.010
  • Harter, J. K., & Blacksmith, N. (2010). Employee engagement and the psychology of joining, staying in, and leaving organizations. In Linley, P. Alex (Ed); Harrington, Susan (Ed); Garcea, Nicola (Ed), Oxford handbook of positive psychology and work. (pp. 121-130). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.
  • Hyvönen, K., Feldt, T., Salmela-Aro, K., Kinnunen, U., & Mäkikangas, A. (2009). Young managers? drive to thrive: A personal work goal approach to burnout and work engagement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 183-196. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2009.04.002
  • Korunka, C., Kubicek, B., Schaufeli, W. B., & Hoonakker, P. (2009). Work engagement and burnout: Testing the robustness of the Job Demands-Resources model. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 243-255. doi: 10.1080/17439760902879976
  • Mone, E. M., & London, M. (2010). Employee engagement through effective performance management: A practical guide for managers. New York, NY, US, Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Parzefall, M., & Hakanen, J. (2010). Psychological contract and its motivational and health-enhancing properties. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25, 4-21. doi: 10.11 08/02683941011 013849
  • Salmela-Aro, K., Tolvanen, A., & Nurmi, J. (2009). Achievement strategies during university studies predict early career burnout and engagement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 162-172. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2009.03.009
  • Seppälä, P., Mauno, S., Feldt, T., Hakanen, J., Kinnunen, U., Tolvanen, A., & Schaufeli, W. (2009). The construct validity of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: Multisample and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 459-481. doi: 10.1007/s10902-008-9100-y
  • Simpson, M. R. (2009). Engagement at work: A review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46, 1012-1024. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.05.003
  • Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2009). Work engagement and financial returns: A diary study on the role of job and personal resources. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 82, 183-200. doi: 10.1348/096317908X285633
  • Young, C. A., & Corsun, D. L. (2010). Burned! The impact of work aspects, injury, and job satisfaction on unionized cooks? intentions to leave the cooking occupation. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 34, 78-102. doi: 10.11 77/1096348009349816
  • Zigarmi, D., Nimon, K., Houson, D., Witt, D., & Diehl, J. (2009). Beyond engagement: Toward a framework and operational definition for employee work passion. Human Resource Development Review, 8, 300-326. doi: 10.11 77/1534484309338171