Date of Conferral



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




Gwendolyn Dooley


When employees are disengaged, owners of small businesses face decreased employee productivity, which affects profitability. Owners of small businesses may reduce the profits lost annually by implementing strategies to improve employee engagement. Grounded in the social exchange theory, the purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to explore strategies that 3 small business owners in Virginia used to improve employee engagement. The participants selected successfully implemented strategies to improve employee engagement. Data were collected using semistructured interviews via Zoom audio, employee handbooks, and documents obtained from the small businesses' websites. The 3 themes that emerged from the thematic analysis were relationships, leadership behavior, and communication. A key recommendation for owners of small businesses is to conduct employee orientation training with all new employees on operational procedures that support employee-customer relationships and engagement. The implication for positive social change includes a potential culture of volunteerism and corporate citizenship. An engaged employee could improve social issues such as tutoring programs, community reinvestment projects, or job opportunities.