The efficacy of work engagement interventions: A meta-analysis of controlled trials

  • Delia Vîrgă
  • Laurenţiu P. MaricuţoiuEmail author
  • Alina Iancu


This review aims to assess the efficacy of controlled interventions aimed at improving the work engagement. We conducted a systematic search of online databases (e.g. PsychInfo, Eric, MedLine, EconLit), using combinations of keywords such as “work engagement”, “vigor”, “dedication”, “absorption”, “intervention”, “trial”, “control”. The search yielded 647 unique results. The eligibility criteria were a) to report a controlled intervention and b) to assess the intervention efficacy using a work engagement scale. To assess intervention efficacy, we computed the standardized differences (Cohen’s d) between the experimental and the control group, in the post-intervention measures. Using a random-effects approach, we analyzed 54 trials (Nexperimental = 4938; Ncontrol = 5190). The average effect size was weak, but statistically significant (dgeneral = .24, SE = .04, 95% CI [.16–.32], k = 54). Heterogeneity analyses indicated that variance about 74% of the between-study variance could be attributed to moderator variables (I2 = 73.73). We identified moderator variables such as the time lag between the end of the intervention (the effect decreases as the time lag increases), the intervention method (the largest effect is in the soft skills interventions), and intervention length (interventions up to 5 weeks are the most effective). The results offer a new perspective on how to implement effective employee engagement programs by HR specialists.


Work/job/employee engagement Effectiveness Interventions Moderators Randomized controlled trials 



The first and the second authors contributed equally; order of authorship is arbitrary. This work was partially supported by a grant from the Romanian Ministry of Education, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-0398. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWest University of TimişoaraTimisoaraRomania

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