Author(s), Title and Publication

Shen, H., & Jiang, H. (2019). Engaged at work? An employee engagement model in public relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 1-18.


This study focused on employee engagement in the public relations scholarship and proposed a strategy-engagement-behavior three-step employee engagement model. Drawing upon prior research, the authors first defined employee engagement as “the enactment and presentation of employees’ selves at work; such expressions manifest in physical, cognitive, and emotional forms” (p. 3). Thus, engaged employees are featured by physically devoting to their job tasks, cognitively being absorbed and attentive, and emotionally being motivated and excited about their work. The authors further proposed that organizational engagement strategies are positively related to employee engagement. In other words, organizations that can honestly disclose information to employees, take employees’ questions and concerns seriously, and build partnerships with professional associations to benefit employees are more likely to see employees physically, cognitively, and emotionally engaged. Last, the authors argued that engaged employees will benefit their organizations by spreading positive words about organizations and less likely criticize their organizations. Besides, they will go above and beyond prescribed job responsibilities and engage in contextual performance, such as extending help to coworkers.

The authors conducted a survey with 568 participants. Participants’ average age were 38 years old, and 53% were women. The average tenure was around eight years. The results supported all the hypotheses: There was a positive association between the use of organizational engagement strategies and employee level of engagement. Additionally, engaged employees are also high on positive messaging behavior, contextual performance, and low on negative messaging behavior.

Implications for practice

Organizations should implement organizational engagement strategies to increase employee engagement. Some concrete strategies include but are not limited to (1) showing openness through annual reports and hosting regular employee meetings to inform employees about organizational decision-making and governance (openness), (2) legitimizing employees’ concerns and value their voice and feedback (assurances of legitimacy), and (3) building network of alliances with professional associations, trade organizations, and non-profit organizations to benefit employees (networking).

Location of Article

This article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
Follow on Twitter

Leave a Reply