The global shift to telework during the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined work environments and created challenges and opportunities for the public sector. This study addressed a significant gap in the existing literature by exploring the relationship between employee engagement and performance in the context of COVID-19. This study explores employee engagement and performance in teleworking environments within the federal public sector. This study adopted a phenomenological case study design focused on understanding the experiences of public sector employees who shifted to telework during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research and interview questions were developed to uncover employee engagement and performance experiences in teleworking environments within the federal public sector following the global lockdown. The participants represent a diverse range of roles, education levels, ages, races, and departments to identify the impact of telework on employee engagement and performance within a federal public sector organization. Following a purposive sampling process, ten participants were selected and interviewed for the study. Through 535 open codes, three categories of findings, tech-based telework, engagement, and performance, with nine themes that emerged: flexibility, work-life balance, time-saving effect, economics, less stress, networking, technology, physical interaction, and socialization. The findings revealed benefits from pandemic-induced telework such as increased flexibility, reduced stress, economic and time savings, and improved work-life balance. Meanwhile, challenges were identified related to social isolation, reduced networking, less physical interaction, and potential interruptions with technology. The study also found that public sector characteristics in formalization, administrative routines, and goal ambiguity influenced employee engagement and performance in teleworking environments. This study contributed to both theoretical and practical realms by describing the complexities of employee engagement and performance among teleworkers in the public sector. Employee engagement has repeatedly been linked to organizational outcomes in literature and practice. Further, practitioners and researchers have yearned for credible and trustworthy scholarly insight to support the workforce during significant crises. Therefore, this study offers new insight on employee engagement and performance experiences in a telework environment in the federal public sector and contributes to the growing body of literature in employee engagement and performance. This study provides important implications for human resource development (HRD) research and practice.
Date of publication
Greg G. Wang, Paul Roberts, Rochell McWhorter
Doctor of Philosophy
Nesuda, Elizabeth, "THE IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND PERFORMANCE IN THE TELEWORKING CONTEXT IN THE U.S. PUBLIC SECTOR: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL CASE STUDY" (2023). Human Resource Development Theses and Dissertations. Paper 65.