Improving engagement in an early career academic setting

can existing models guide early career academic support strategies?

Erica Crome, Lois Meyer, Agnes Bosanquet*, Lesley Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Early career academics (ECAs) represent the future of the academic workforce, but competition and career uncertainty is resulting in disengagement and burnout. In professions outside academia, increased engagement is associated with perceived organisational support and fair recognition and rewards, as well as opportunities to meet basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness. In contrast, decreased engagement is linked with increasing demands on effort and over-commitment to work. The current study used multiple linear regression to test whether comparable relationships were observed in a sample of 151 ECAs in an Australian university. Opportunities to build and demonstrate competence at work, the presence of meaningful relationships and perceived organisational support were independent and statistically significant predictors of engagement. The need for autonomy and fair rewards and recognition appeared to be correlated but not statistically significant predictors of engagement. Contrary to prediction, increasing effort and over-commitment to work did not predict decreases in engagement. These results are discussed in light of implications for programs designed to support the development of ECAs into various career pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-732
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number4
Early online date13 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2019


  • early career academics
  • workplace engagement
  • competence
  • relatedness
  • autonomy

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