New IRF Research Study Evaluates Impact of Non-Core Job Roles of Employee Engagement

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Study finds prioritization and reinforcement of non-core job crucial to engagement

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It is important for organizations to demonstrate synergy between its values, mission, goals, daily behavioral expectations and engagement – all coming together with their rewards strategy.

The Incentive Research Foundation (the IRF) released its latest research study, Engaged in What? Creating Connections to Performance with Rewards and Recognition and Roles. The paper evaluates the broad determinants, measurements and roles of employee engagement.

Although employee engagement remains a major initiative for most organizations, the term “employee engagement” has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. The term has moved from a focus on individual interests to a way to measure satisfaction levels and willingness to go above and beyond in the interest of organizational effectiveness. The study, executed by Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne, Distinguished Professor, Center for Entrepreneurship on University of Nebraska, reviewed hundreds of academic and consulting papers on the topic of engagement to conclude little consensus exists on the definitions, drivers and determinants of this term. The study then offers a path forward for the field by connecting employees to the required non-core job roles that are crucial to a modern agile organization.

Here are some key highlights from the study:

•Engagement has moved far away from its initial definition as “bringing one's self to work" and is now centered on “going above and beyond for the company."
•After extensive academic and business review, there is little consensus on the definition of engagement or its key metrics, making further research difficult.
•The incessant pressure for companies to “do more with less” has increased risk of employee burnout, and counters employee engagement efforts.
•Non-core job roles, such as being innovators, team players, good organizational citizens, and continuously growing one’s skillset, can increase both engagement and company success. Companies need to prioritize these roles for maximum effect.
•Unlike fixed compensations systems, managers can use the agility of formal and informal recognition systems to align employees to the roles and behaviors that are needed at the time in question. Recognition systems are more flexible and easier to change. When implemented by managers, their use can be the link between engagement and role-based behavior.

“It is important for organizations to demonstrate synergy between its values, mission, goals, daily behavioral expectations and engagement – all coming together with their rewards strategy,” says Melissa Van Dyke, the IRF president. She adds, “As a result, organizations will see improvements in customer satisfaction, reduced burnout, improved retention and overall improvement in job performance.”

The research also provides a case study on the Cleveland Clinic, one of the top hospitals in America that utilizes an innovative, multi-tiered recognition program to strategically align employee engagement with organizational goals.

To read the full report, visit

About the IRF:
The Incentive Research Foundation ( funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance.

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Elizabeth Johnson
The Incentive Research Foundation
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