Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

Steven Tippins

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the influence of adult attachment styles on the engagement of employees in an attempt to address increasing losses in U.S. work productivity. Researchers have documented that organizations able to maintain better manager-employee relationships demonstrated positive employee engagement and improved productivity. However, a distinct gap in the literature remains as to how organizational leaders can stimulate healthier manager-employee relationships. Adult attachment theory was used as the foundation to explore how employees' relationships with their immediate manager affect their work engagement. To address this question, a purposeful sample of 16 full time mid level employees who had a direct line reporting relationship to an immediate manager were selected from various industries across the United States. The Experiences of Close Relationship â?? Relationship Structures questionnaire was used to assess the employee's attachment style prior to in-depth interviews being performed to gather rich data on their lived experiences. Interview data was analyzed using the modified 7-step Van Kaam method of phenomenological analysis. Two themes emerged: employees have a need for purpose and value, and employees require varying levels of dependency. These findings indicate that managers must cater to the attachment needs of the employee to positively address productivity losses. Implications for positive social change pertain to both the financial benefits derived from an increase in industry productivity and profitability levels due to improvements in employee engagement, as well as the recovery of employees' commitment to the workplace through the provision of a healthy work environment.