Engaged employees are committed to their careers, but are they loyal to their organizations?

The idea that highly engaged workers will continue to work tirelessly for organizations despite diminishing resources often isn't true, according to a recently published article in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

“When the economy is experiencing a general downturn, it may be unlikely that engaged employees low in organizational commitment can find another position," said Thomas Britt, a professor in industrial-organizational psychology at Clemson University and author of the study. "But if they do have the opportunity to change jobs, they will. Managers who fail to position employees to be effective in their roles and provide organizational support may lose their most talented and energetic people."

These are critical times for managers, Britt added, citing the economy and organizations’ efforts to trim costs. Managers need to balance the pressure from their bosses to do more with less against motivating and keeping their employees engaged in their work and in the organization. This becomes more important when work forces are reduced and employees are asked to increase their work output, especially work that reaches beyond the scope of their jobs and their capabilities. (Read the full article on ScienceDaily.com.)

My question is, do employers' value engagement enough in the current economic climate to go the extra mile to retain their high performers? Countless employees toiling in the Great Recession have been given the message, explicitly or implicitly, that they're lucky to have a job and now's not the time to expect adequate resources, fair raises or even meaningful work. That message doesn't do a lot for employee motivation or engagement, but it's prevalent.