Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Research and Administration

Committee Chair

Lilian Hill

Committee Chair Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 2

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 3

Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

Holly Foster

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Research and Administration


This dissertation examined the relationship between employee engagement and the factors that may influence the three psychological conditions of engagement: meaningfulness, safety, and availability for the sector of employees classified as maintenance, grounds, and custodial employees in a community college setting. The factors for each of the three conditions are meaningfulness (job enrichment, work role fit, and co-worker relations), safety (co-worker relations, supervisor relations and co-worker norms), and availability (resources, self-consciousness, and outside activities). Further, the researcher used a mediation model to determine if any of the psychological conditions mediated the relationship between its determinants and engagement. All 15 Mississippi community colleges participated in the study. The researcher administered the quantitative study on site at each of the community colleges. The survey used for this study was developed by May et al. (2004) and derived from Kahn’s (1990) qualitative research related to engagement and the psychological conditions that may influence engagement. A total of 452 participants completed the survey.

Research contends that campus appearance is a factor in a student’s decision to enroll or remain enrolled in college (Absher & Crawford, 1996; Campbell & Bigger; Noel-Levitz, 2011; Smith, 2005). Likewise, research suggests that a relationship exists between employee engagement and an employee’s positive work performance, increased efficiency, and lower turnover rates. Engagement may also result in financial and organizational success (Bates, 2004; Baumruk, 2004; Buhler, 2006; Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002). Because maintenance, grounds, and custodial employees are responsible for the appearance of the campus, and community colleges are continuously seeking ways to both recruit and retain students, an examination of the factors that influence employee engagement of this sector of employees was warranted.

The findings of this research study indicate that meaningfulness and availability were positively related to engagement. Job enrichment and work role fit were significantly related to meaningfulness. Resources was significantly related to availability. Although safety was not related to engagement, all three factors, co-worker relations, supervisor relations and co-worker norms were related to safety. Lastly, only two fully mediated relationships were found. Meaningfulness mediated the relationship between job engagement as well as work role fit and engagement.

Because no other studies could be found that focus on this sector of employees and the psychological conditions of engagement, this study may serve as a starting point to inform community college administrators of the importance of engagement when hiring, training, and retaining maintenance, grounds, and custodial employees. Future research should consider replicating this study in a university setting to determine if the results generalize to this sector of employees in the university system.