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Professor says student engagement is a sign of 'flourishing'

Kathryn Kao

February 7, 2018

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Employee engagement is a major concern for leaders in human resources, but figuring out how to increase engagement has been a hot topic issue for companies and consultants across the nation.

Amy L. Reschly, a professor and program coordinator for the department of educational psychology at UGA's College of Education, was recently cited in an article in the Harvard Business Review for her expertise in student engagement.

Along with her colleagues, Reschly concluded in a 2008 study that student engagement at schools was a sign of "flourishing." They found that experiencing frequent positive emotions during school was associated with higher levels of student engagement and negative emotions with lower levels of engagement.

But, in a recent study on engagement burnout by Yale University, some participants reported both high engagement and high burnout. These engaged-exhausted workers were passionate about their work, but also had mixed feelings about it—reporting high levels of interest, stress and frustration. While they showed desirable behaviors such as high skill acquisition, these model employees also reported the highest turnover intentions in the sample—even higher than the unengaged group.

According to the article, this means that companies may be at risk of losing some of their most motivated and hard-working employees—not for a lack of engagement, but because of their simultaneous experiences of high stress and burnout symptoms.

As a result, while engagement is key, leaders and employees should focus on smart engagement—or engagement that leads to enthusiasm, motivation and productivity, without burnout. This can be accomplished by balancing increased demands on employees with increased resources, particularly during times of stress.

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