Very little has been written about engagement in the library workplace. Engagement and burnout are two poles on the workplace behavior spectrum. Burnout can be defined as exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced efficacy in daily work. Most cases of burnout are a slow process that starts with lessened engagement in day-to-day work; restlessness morphs into boredom which evolves into cynicism and the negative behaviors of burnout. Engagement can be defined as the opposite of burnout: energy, involvement, and high efficacy. Actively engaged employees are more satisfied in their jobs, and they are more likely to innovate and move into leadership positions. This study sought to understand the level of engagement of librarians and library staff. The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) uses 17 questions to determine an individual’s engagement in their work by measuring the three factors of vigor, dedication, and absorption. The scores (on a 0-6 scale) of participants (n=1100) for engagement was 4.25; vigor 4.15; dedication 4.52; and absorption 4.11. All of these scores are within the “average” range. Analysis found differences in levels of engagement by type of library (academic, public, special, and school) and work performed (administrative responsibility and patron interaction). Open-ended responses revealed the main influences on participant engagement were workload, work fit, and work expectations; recognition; culture and environment; leadership; health; and meaning. By attending this session, attendees will learn about the importance of workplace engagement, what constitutes workplace engagement, how to encourage workplace engagement, and the levels of engagement of the study participants.
Jason Martin– Associate Dean, Middle Tennessee State University