Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES)
Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES): this article provides a practical explanation of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) concept. The article begins with a general definition and explanation of this concept, followed by a description of the topic of work engagement and information about the origins of the UWES. You will also find the UWES-17 test, and a step-by-step plan for processing the results. Enjoy reading!
What is the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES)?
The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale is an instrument used to measure work engagement. The original test to do this consisted of 24 questions.
A large part of the questions were formulated positively and derived from the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The list was supplemented with questions of engagement, dedication and absorption to form the entire UWES-24.
After an evaluation, 7 questions were marked as unsuitable. That means 17 items remained. This 17-item version consists of 6 questions on vigor, 5 on dedication, and 6 on absorption. In a few studies, the UWES-15 was also used, but two additional questions were omitted.
Analyses show that the UWES has a good factor structure and that the results are in good agreement with samples from the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. The scales for vigor, dedication, and absorption are closely related, with correlations greater than .65.
The correlation and other psychometric results thus confirm the validity of the UWES.
What is work engagement?
Employees who are engaged feel energized and connected to the work they do. They see themselves as competent to handle the demands of their job. There are two main perspectives on the relationship between work engagement and burnout.
According to the first approach, developed by Maslach and Leiter in 1997, work engagement and burnout are the ends of a continuum of well-being at work. Burnout, characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and diminished professional effectiveness, represents the negative end, while engagement represents the positive end.
Therefore, the three components of engagement – energy, commitment and effectiveness – compensate for the corresponding aspects of burnout. As a result, low scores on exhaustion and cynicism, along with high scores on the professional effectiveness scale, indicate work engagement when measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory.
However, it is very difficult to measure the concepts of both engagement and burnout in a single questionnaire. Therefore, in 2001, Schaufeli and Bakker proposed to consider burnout and work engagement as separate concepts and to assess them independently of each other.
Although employees view engagement and burnout as opposite psychological states, with positive and negative qualities, respectively, they should be viewed as fundamentally independent.
That means, theoretically, an employee who is not exhausted could have high or low engagement, while an engaged employee could have high or low burnout. In practice, however, it is likely that burnout and engagement are substantially negatively related.
This alternative approach allows for studying the strength of the relationship between work engagement and burnout by using different measures for each construct.
Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: the Test questions
Below you will find an overview of the 17 statements that belong to the UWES-17 questionnaire. Each of the questions is labeled A, D, or V. These stand for absorption, dedication, and vigor.
Vigor refers to a strong and positive emotional state in which individuals feel energized, enthusiastic and motivated about their work.
Dedication refers to a sense of commitment, loyalty and pride towards work, where individuals experience a strong bond and a sense of purpose in their professional pursuits.
Absorption refers to the extent to which individuals become completely absorbed in their work, forgetting time and being deeply focused on their tasks, resulting in a sense of flow.
- At work I feel like bursting with energy. (VI01)
- I find the work that I do meaningful and purposeful. (DE01)
- Time flies when I am at work. (AB01)
- At my job I feel strong and vigorous. (VI02)
- I am enthusiastic about my job. (DE02)
- When I work, I forget everything else around me. (AB02)
- My job inspires me. (DE03)
- When I get up in the morning, I feel like going to work (VI03)
- I feel happy when I work intensively. (AB03)
- I am proud of the work that I do. (DE04)
- I am immersed in my work. (AB04)
- I can continue to work for long periods of time. (VI04)
- My job is challenging enough. (DE05)
- I get carried away when I work. (AB05)
- At my job, I am mentally resilient. (VI05)
- It is difficult to detach myself from my job. (AB06)
- At my job, I always persevere, even when things do not go well. (VI06)
An answer is given with one of 6 possibilities on the Likert scale:
- 0 = Never
- 1 = Almost never (A few times a year or less)
- 2 = Rarely (Once a month or less)
- 3 = Sometimes (A few times a month)
- 4 = Often (Once a week)
- 5 = Very often (A few times a week)
- 6 = Always (Every day)
Process UWES test results
To arrive at a result from your answers to the UWES questionnaire, it is common practice to combine and analyze the scores of the individual questions.
Here are the steps you can follow:
Step 1: Assign numerical values
To get started, assign a numerical value to each category on the Likert scale. For example: “strongly disagree” = 1, “somewhat disagree” = 2, and so on, until “strongly agree” = 7. Or, as mentioned above: “never” = 0, “almost never” = 1, and so on, until “always” = 6.
These values are used to quantify your answers.
For each question, take the numerical answer you gave and write it down.
Step 2: Add up scores
Then add up the scores of all questions to calculate a total score. This total score gives you a general indication of your work engagement based on the UWES questionnaire. You can also calculate subscores for the three dimensions of work engagement: vigor, dedication, and absorption.
To do this, take the scores of the questions related to each dimension and add them together.
Step 3: Compare reference values
After calculating the total score and the subscores, you can compare them with reference values or norms established in previous studies. This can help you understand how your score compares to others and gain insight into your level of work engagement.
Explanation of the reference values
The reference values for the three components of the UWES scale (vigor, dedication, and absorption) may vary depending on the context and the population being studied.
There is no established universal standard for what is considered high or low for each component.
Higher scores are generally associated with a higher level of vigor.
A total score above the population mean is often considered indicative of a high degree of vigor.
Higher scores are usually interpreted as a higher level of dedication.
A total score above the population mean is often considered indicative of high levels of dedication.
Higher scores are generally associated with a higher level of absorption.
A total score above the population mean is often considered indicative of a high degree of absorption.
Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: how is this method applied? (practical example)
The methodology of a study is crucial to ensure the reliability and validity of the results.
In the case of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES), a brief description of the study population, the data collection process, the UWES questionnaire and the statistical methods used are given below.
Description of the study population
A representative sample of employees from different organizations is selected for a survey.
The sample size was 500 participants, for example. The aim was to achieve a proportional distribution of participants from different professions, sectors and organization sizes.
The participants worked in both the private and public sectors.
Explanation of the data collection procedure
The data collection process involved the use of both online and physical paper surveys. The participants were informed about the purpose of the study and the confidentiality of their answers.
Voluntary participation was emphasized, and participants were given sufficient time to complete the questionnaire.
Anonymity was guaranteed, with personal identification data separated from the research data.
Detailed description of the UWES questionnaire
The UWES questionnaire consists of 17 items that measure work engagement. The questionnaire was developed on the basis of the theory of job demands-resources (JD-R).
The items are divided over three dimensions of work engagement: vigor, dedication and absorption.
Each item is rated on a 6-point Likert scale ranging from “never” to “always”.
Statistical analysis methods
The collected data was analyzed using statistical software such as SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences).
First, the reliability of the UWES questionnaire was assessed by internal consistency analysis, where the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was calculated.
A higher Cronbach’s alpha indicates that the scale items correlate consistently.
In addition, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis were applied to assess the construct validity of the UWES.
It evaluated the three dimensions of work engagement and checked whether the items within each dimension showed a consistent pattern.
Finally, correlation analyses were performed to examine the relationship between job engagement and other relevant variables, such as job satisfaction and job performance.
Regression analyses were used to assess the predictive value of work engagement for various outcome measures.
UWES test for individual or group use
The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) can be used on an individual level as well as on a group level.
The questionnaire has been developed to measure work engagement among individual employees, but it is also possible to administer the questionnaire among a group of employees within an organization.
On an individual level, the UWES questionnaire can be completed by each employee individually.
This provides insight into each participant’s personal work engagement and can serve as a basis for self-reflection, personal development or evaluation of individual engagement levels.
At the group level, the individual scores from the UWES questionnaire can be combined and aggregated to get an overview of the average work engagement within a specific group or organization.
This can provide valuable information about the collective level of engagement, patterns and trends within the group, and can serve as a basis for organizational interventions and policy decisions.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about the Utrecht Work Enagement Scale? Are you familiar with the concept of work engagement and the UWES questionnaire? What do you think are the main benefits of measuring work engagement? What role do you think work engagement plays in promoting productivity and well-being in the workplace? Do you have tips or comments?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Seppälä, P., Mauno, S., Feldt, T., Hakanen, J., Kinnunen, U., Tolvanen, A., & Schaufeli, W. (2009). The construct validity of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: Multisample and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Happiness studies, 10, 459-481.
- Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Salanova, M. (2003). Utrecht work engagement scale-9. Educational and Psychological Measurement.
- Fong, T. C. T., & Ng, S. M. (2012). Measuring engagement at work: Validation of the Chinese version of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale. International journal of behavioral medicine, 19, 391-397.
How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2023). Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/human-resources/utrecht-work-engagement-scale/
Original publication date: 08/15/2023 | Last update: 12/25/2023
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