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Full circle : employee engagement in the Welsh public service

Jones, Natalie Louise (2012) Full circle : employee engagement in the Welsh public service. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

This is a study of employee engagement in the public sector in Wales. It is concerned with understanding how employee engagement is conceived, managed and experienced by employees in the public services within the remit of the devolved government for Wales. In the public sector, employee engagement has been presented by both the UK and Welsh Governments as a vital component in the delivery of modern responsive services within the context of reductions in the public finances. I have used an autoethnographic research approach informed by an idealist philosophical perspective in this study. I conducted a survey of HR practitioners, interviewed senior public sector managers and carried out a qualitative case study of one organisation's programme for employee engagement. I also used my personal experiences of my own engagement while working in the public sector in Wales over a five year period. Overall, I found relatively high levels of reported engagement amongst the mainly female and unionised workforce although opportunities for progression were limited as a result of political devolution and long standing weaknesses in the Welsh economy. As in the academic literature, employee engagement was conceived in practice in two ways but with a clear focus on meeting organisational rather than individual's aspirations. Little awareness or commitment amongst public sector employees to the Welsh Government's concept of a supra organisational Welsh Public Service was found. Senior managers' conceptions of employee engagement shared more similarity with the HR practitioners who worked in the private rather than the public sector. The management of employee engagement was found to be informed by the rationalistic perspective of strategy making which overlooked gaps in implementation between different organisational stakeholders. I found that senior and line managers were lukewarm in their support for employee engagement initiatives compared with HR practitioners. While employees experienced employee engagement as a welcome effort by their employers, staff considered such initiatives to be little more than a fulfillment of a basic part of the employment package. They also felt that participation in employee engagement was not entirely voluntary. The research culminates in a contextualised model of employee engagement, a research agenda and recommendations for practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Business, Law, Education and Social Sciences > Bangor Business School
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2015 13:08
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2016 16:10
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/5188
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