Original Research

The influence of employee engagement on labour productivity in an automotive assembly organisation in South Africa

Robert W.D. Zondo
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 23, No 1 | a3043 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v23i1.3043 | © 2020 Robert W.D. Zondo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2019 | Published: 17 March 2020

About the author(s)

Robert W.D. Zondo, Department of Entrepreneurial Studies and Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa


Background: Productivity of the South African work force remains an issue of central concern for business. It plays an important role in the life of every person and the performance of every business. Creating a working environment that encourages worker participation is one way to create the kind of workplace that attracts motivated work teams for productivity improvement. This sentiment underpins the concept of employee engagement. Employee engagement is the level of commitment and involvement an employee has towards their organisation and its values.

Aim: This study examines the influence of employee engagement on labour productivity improvement in the automotive assembly organisations in South Africa.

Settings: The study objectives were achieved by examining the production and related experiences of an automotive assembly organisation that has adopted an employee engagement strategy for labour productivity improvement. The company operates in the eThekwini District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal. It assessed if employee engagement is responsible for company’s labour productivity.

Method: The investigation was achieved by collecting quarterly data on absenteeism, employee participation in quality circles and labour productivity before and after the implementation of the strategy.

Results: Employee engagement does not have the ability to improve labour productivity in an automotive assembly organisation in South Africa. However, absenteeism rate has an influence on labour productivity resulting from the implementation of employee engagement.

Conclusion: South African organisations should revise their performance management systems and develop employee engagement strategies that help achieve new business goals. Consequently, this study uncovers the strengths and weaknesses of employee engagement for labour productivity improvement in South Africa.


Absenteeism; Automotive assembly organisation; Employee engagement; Labour productivity; South Africa.


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