Social exchange theory and engagement–what is the connection?
Why do employees give more of themselves in a job? What is a theory behind why they put forth extra effort in making their organization successful? One theory that some scholars use to explain engagement is social exchange theory (SET).
Think of it this way: You make decisions on how you wish to behave based on perceived costs and benefits.
Therefore, in evaluating the social relationship with work, each employee might consider what am I getting by working at this organization and then respond with an appropriate level of effort and dedication to the job.
Employees will assess the degree of support and the amount of resources they receive from the organization and choose to pay the organization back through cognitive, emotional and physical energy, intensity, and effort toward the job. Employees can increase or decrease their level of engagement depending on their evaluation of what is fair in the exchange.
When thinking about social exchange theory and engagement, consider the importance of fairness and reciprocity in the organization.