Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Capital Development


Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development

Committee Chair

Cyndi H. Gaudet

Committee Chair Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 2

Heather M. Annulis

Committee Member 2 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 3

Quincy Brown

Committee Member 3 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 4

Dale L. Lunsford

Committee Member 4 Department

Human Capital Development


Today, employee work engagement is viewed as one of the most important issues for corporations, given its influence on individual and organizational productivity and performance (Attridge, 2009; Czarnowsky, 2008). As a result, all organizations desire employees who are engaged, in particular the hospitality industry. As a service-providing sector of the hospitality industry, hotels are reliant on front-line employees to conduct strong customer-employee interactions and provide efficient service delivery while exceeding customer expectations (Kusluvan, 2003). The hospitality industry needs employees who are committed to the organization and one who is passionate, striving to go the extra mile, and offering discretionary effort to satisfy the customer while enhancing the guests’ experience. Despite evidence of the engagement-profit linkage and front-line employee influence on customer quality and service perceptions (Lockwood, 2007; Seijts & Crim, 2006; Wagner & Harter, 2007; Watson, 2002), little is known about employee work engagement within the hospitality workplace. The lack of research-based tools to forge successful work environments leaves hospitality industry leaders challenged to foster a more engaged workforce to remain competitive in the marketplace.

This cross-sectional, descriptive, non-experimental study investigated whether specific industry work environment characteristics exist as perceived by regional front-line employees of limited- and full-service hotels. The research found front-line employees of both limited- and full-service hotels are engaged at a high level in their workplace and perceive their work environments favorably. Further, favorable perceptions of hospitality-specific work environment characteristics are linked to higher front-line employee work engagement levels. These engaged front-line employees experience vigor, dedication, and absorption in the workplace, thereby contributing discretionary effort to satisfy customer while enhancing the guest experience. Additional research should focus on replicating the study in different areas to improve the external validity of the study. Future research could also employ both quantitative and qualitative methods for richness and depth as to why no difference, in front-line employee work environment perceptions and work engagement perceptions, between limited- and full-service hotels was found. Research might also be conducted in many cultural settings to strengthen understanding in front-line employee work environment and work engagement perceptions in limited- and full-service hotel properties.



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