The nature of the psychological conditions of work engagement among employees at a University in Durban, South Africa.
Chikoko, Gamuchirai Loraine.
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Throughout history the discipline of psychology has been dominated by the study of mental illness as opposed to mental wellness. The introduction of positive psychology has caused a shift from the bias towards mental illness to a focus on psychological wellbeing. The aim of positive psychology is to begin to catalyse a change in the focus of psychology from preoccupation only with repairing the worst in life to building positive qualities. This has resulted in an increase of studies on positive traits and feelings. In light of this, work engagement has become a focus area particularly given that research has shown that disengagement or alienation at the workplace is central to the problem of employees’ lack of commitment and motivation. It is therefore important to understand why some employees stay engaged at work even whilst facing challenges with constant change and why others disengage at work. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between three psychological conditions namely psychological meaningfulness, psychological safety, and psychological; availability; job characteristics; and work engagement. Furthermore, the study sought to investigate the mediating effects of psychological conditions on the relationship between work engagement and job characteristics. A survey design was used with a questionnaire as a data gathering instrument. The sample consisted of 150 employees of a university. Descriptive statistics (e.g. mean and standard deviations), Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients and multiple regressions were used to analyse the data. The results showed that psychological meaningfulness was the strongest predictor of work engagement and that it fully mediated the relationship between job characteristics (job enrichment, work role fit and rewarding co-worker relations). Psychological availability did not predict work engagement but indicated a statistically significant correlation with cognitive, emotional and psychical resources. Limitations in this research are identified and recommendations are made for future research.