In contrast to the vast amount of research on work engagement (WE) that defines it as an enduring positive fulfilling state of mind (Halbesleben, 2010), the central aim of this paper is to study WE at the momentary level. More importantly, this study will give a dynamic picture of WE and examine the role that momentary challenge and hindrance demands play in making people more or less engaged to a particular task.
Using experience sampling, participants received three alerts via a smartphone app at random times during the day for five successive workdays. 267 observations were obtained at the momentary level from 45 employees working in various organizations in The Netherlands.
As expected, results from multilevel analysis revealed 76% within-person variance in momentary WE. Furthermore, job complexity was perceived as a challenging demand and was positively related with momentary WE. However, role conflict, and surprisingly time pressure and workload were perceived as a hindering demands and were negatively related with momentary WE.
The study may suffer from common method variance due to the use of self-reports only.
This study gives evidence to the view that work engagement is a dynamic experience where job demands play an important role in enhancing or deterring this experience. It is important that employees experience their demands as challenging as opposed to hindering in order to become engaged.
This study captured reactions to work activities that are often fleeting and determined their effects on momentary WE.