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Who is Engaged at Work?

A Large-Scale Study in 30 European Countries

Hakanen, Jari J., PhD; Ropponen, Annina, PhD; Schaufeli, Wilmar B., PhD; De Witte, Hans, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 5 - p 373–381
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001528

Objective: The aim was to investigate differences in the levels of work engagement across demographic and work- and organization-related factors, and their relative importance for work engagement.

Methods: The study was on the basis of a sample of 17,498 male and 17,897 female employees from the sixth European Working Conditions Survey collected in 2015. Linear regression models and dominance analysis were used.

Results: Several significant differences were observed between the levels of work engagement in different demographic and work- and organization-related groups. Employees working in human service occupations reported higher levels of work engagement than employees in other industries. Relatively, occupational group (68%) and industry (17%) contributed most to work engagement.

Conclusion: It is important to focus on enhancing work engagement, particularly among less educated employees, among those with nonpermanent contracts, and in certain occupations.

Workability and Working Careers, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland (Drs Hakanen, Ropponen), Research Unit Occupational & Organizational Psychology and Professional Learning, Leuven, Belgium (Drs Schaufeli, Witte), Department of Social, Health & Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands (Schaufeli), Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa (Dr Witte).

Address correspondence to: Jari J. Hakanen, PhD, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Workability and Work Careers, Topeliuksenkatu 41 B, Box 40, 00032 Helsinki, Finland (

Clinical Significance: This study helps e.g. occupational health services and other practitioners to identify those occupational groups that are less likely to experience a positive state of employee well-being, i.e., work engagement which is known to relate to many positive health and organizational outcomes.

This study was supported by SWiPE research consortium 303667, which is funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland.

Hakanen, Ropponen, Schaufeli, and De Witte have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine