Construct Overlap Between Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Function of Semantic Equivalence?

Abstract

The evidence for employee engagement as a distinct construct, separate from related work attitudes such as job satisfaction, has been contradictory. Despite a growing inventory of research, current statistical techniques fall short in providing additional answers beyond those previously documented through discriminant and incremental validity, among others. Understanding the semantic similarity between scales however could uncover the potential bounds of current evidence and highlight areas of further exploration. This study examined the semantic similarity between three measures of employee engagement frequently found in the research literature and a commonly used measure of job satisfaction. Examining a relatively new indicator of validity, manifest validity, semantic relatedness between items from employee engagement and job satisfaction instruments was assessed using latent semantic analysis. Semantic similarity between employee engagement and job satisfaction items predicted moderate to high amounts of variance (R 2 = 25–69 %) in corresponding correlations of survey responses. Findings suggest that high correlations between certain employee engagement measures and job satisfaction scores may be a function of semantic equivalence rather than individual perceptions of separate theoretical constructs.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable insights, comments, and questions.

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Correspondence to Kim Nimon.

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Nimon, K., Shuck, B. & Zigarmi, D. Construct Overlap Between Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Function of Semantic Equivalence?. J Happiness Stud 17, 1149–1171 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-015-9636-6

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Keywords

  • Latent sematic analysis
  • Employee engagement
  • Job satisfaction