Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Cawthon, Tony

Committee Member

Keels-Williams , Frankie

Committee Member

Satterfield , James

Committee Member

Switzer , Fred


Organizations with high employee engagement have positive outcomes in their organizational results. These organizations attained greater satisfaction from their customers, employees were more productive, and increased profits. Employee disengagement is detrimental to businesses, costing companies billions of dollars every year as a result. The suffered losses are a result of high turnover, low employee and customer satisfaction, and decreased productivity. Disengaged employees affected the overall economy in the United States by approximately $300 billion. Because employee engagement has an extensive influence on an organization's financial position, many organizations designed professional development training programs targeted at enhancing the engagement skills of their leaders.
Kahn's engagement model presented the theoretical framework for the study. Kirkpatrick's, four levels of evaluation model reinforced the theoretical basis for the study. The conceptual framework of the study illustrated the progression of participants who had attended a professional development training program focused on engagement.
The following primary research questions guided the study: How does the professional development training focused on employee engagement contribute to the application of employee engagement concepts and activities and how does the application of employee engagement concepts and activities contribute to high levels of employee engagement? Seventeen secondary research questions utilizing Kirkpatrick's four levels of evaluation also supported the study.
The study was a qualitative multi-case study and utilized within-case and cross-case analysis. Participants were leaders who had attended an engagement professional development training program and their employees. Leaders shared their reactions and learnings related to the training program including how they applied the concepts and activities learned in the program. The leaders' employees shared their experiences of the leaders' application of different activities and behaviors in the workplace. The data were collected by observations, interviews, company documents, artifacts, and other archival records. The data were analyzed utilizing a six step data analyses process. Each case was analyzed individually prior to the completion of a cross-case analysis.
There were three emergent themes pertaining to the study, employee centric, collaboration, and career development. Leaders who attended the program created a culture that was employee centric. Employees in this culture feel valued and respected for their contributions, a strong relationship exists between the manager and employees, and employees foster care and concern for each other. The culture also promotes open communication and involvement in the business' strategies driving collaboration among the employees. Lastly, the leaders exhibited a strong personal interest in the employees' growth and development.
General recommendations were made for organizational leaders to collaborate with learning leaders and instructional designers in the development of an engagement professional development training program. Recommendations for future research included conducting follow up studies to determine the application and results of an engagement professional training program over a continuous span of time.