Original Research

Performance management and employee engagement: A South African perspective

Michelle Govender, Mark H.R. Bussin
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 18 | a1215 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v18i0.1215 | © 2020 Michelle Govender, Mark H.R. Bussin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 2019 | Published: 08 June 2020

About the author(s)

Michelle Govender, Wits Business School, University of Witwatersrand, Parktown, South Africa
Mark H.R. Bussin, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Illovo, South Africa


Orientation: To remain competitive South African organisations must improve their operational efficiency by lowering manufacturing and service costs, and the key is the performance of its employees.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study was twofold: firstly, to establish if there is a relationship between performance management and employee engagement; and secondly to ascertain if performance management can be rebooted through increased employee engagement.

Motivation for the study: Organisations that measure and manage performance generally outperform those that do not. Organisations need to understand what drives employee engagement and performance to outperform their competitors.

Research approach, design and method: A qualitative approach was employed that included a review of research articles and interviews with employees from various functions across all levels within operations of a fast-moving consumer goods organisation based in Gauteng. A sample size of 20 employees was used.

Main findings: The results suggest that a relationship exists between performance management and employee engagement and that an increase in employee engagement would result in improved performance of employees and subsequently the organisation. The study revealed that whilst engagement and communication occur across all levels within the organisation, there is still a significant gap. The messages and expectations are not simple enough to be understood. Employees are not empowered to have a voice which causes them to be demotivated. Supportive management, which is fundamental to the success of performance management, is lacking.

Practical/managerial implications: The insight from this study may be used to change the way organisations engage with employees and manage performance to ensure it is a beneficial exercise that adds value to all stakeholders.

Contribution/value-add: This study will contribute towards organisations understanding the relationship between performance management and employee engagement and how to leverage this towards improving operational efficiency and organisational effectiveness.


performance management; operational efficiency; organisational effectiveness; employee engagement; South Africa


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