Date of Conferral







Robert Levassuer


A high percentage of U.S. employees do not engage in their work, resulting in lower productivity. U.S. corporations are losing more than $400–$500 billion per year because of low productivity at work. This phenomenological study involved an examination of leadership behaviors that engage or disengage employees in public service organizations. Kahn’s conceptual frame of engagement and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs motivation theory guided this study. The purpose was to determine why disengagement behavior continues despite extensive literature on the benefits of engagement and what organizations can do to encourage leadership behaviors that engage employees and discourage leadership behaviors that disengage them. Applying a descriptive phenomenological research method enabled an in-depth examination, based on their perceptions, of the lived experiences of employees of public service organizations. Interviews of a purposeful sample of 12 nonmanagement employees at a government agency in the northern region of Texas provided the study data. I used Giorgi’s (2009) modified Husserl approach to identify potential themes and the constant comparative method to identify the final themes at the point where I reached data saturation. The study findings consisted of 8 leader behaviors that engage and 9 leader behaviors that disengage nonmanagement public service employees. If implemented, these findings have the potential to contribute to human resource management and the development of leaders skilled in managing engagement and improving employee productivity and satisfaction while lowering turnover costs.