Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)

School

Management

Advisor

Lisa Kangas

Abstract

In 2013, 35% of the workforce was not engaged, which results in lack of productivity and loss of profitability for small business enterprises (SBEs). The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore successful strategies that frontline leaders in a 4 generation, family-owned excavating business used to engage their frontline employees. The excavating business was started in 1947 by the father of the current business owners. William Kahn's employee engagement theory was the conceptual framework for this study. Data were collected through a focus group and direct observations of engagement during meetings and frontline areas from a population of 8 frontline leaders from construction work at an excavating business in Stephens City, Virginia. Data from the focus group and direct observations were thematically analyzed and then triangulated to ensure the trustworthiness of the interpretations. The 5 themes that emerged included: investing in sustainability, leading by example, providing clear and open communication, implementing a system of measurement, and developing a professional image. These themes could provide the basis for the area frontline leaders to improve the employee engagement level of their frontline employees. These findings could prompt what has been a missing dialogue of communication that could bridge the employee engagement gap between the area employees and employers. Social change implications of these findings could lead to productivity improvement that could contribute to the survival of SBEs and to the employment status of the community.