Development and validation of new scales for psychological fitness and work characteristics of blue collar workers
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Over the last decade the focus has shifted to ensure a holistic view of employee well-being in organisations by focusing on both physical and psychological well-being. Previous research suggests that work characteristics and psychological work-related well-being influence both the individual (i.e. health) and organisational outcomes (i.e. commitment, safety, productivity, etc.). Moreover, the increasing importance of focusing on work-related psychological well-being of employees is evident in legislation from around the world. In South Africa the Occupational Health and Safety legislation, spesifically the Construction Regulations, also recognises the importance of the psychological well-being of employees and refers to it as ?psychological fitness?. However, no clear definition or instrument for psychological fitness exists. Similarly, no instrument exist to measure work characteristics of blue-collar workers. The objectives of this research were 1) to propose a defintion for psychological fitness of blue-collar employees 2) to propose a theoretical framework to better our understanding of psychological fitness 3) to develop a psychological fitness instrument for blue-collar employees that is suitable for the South African context 4) to test the psychometric properties of the newly developed psychological fitness instrument 5) to develop a work characteristics questionnaire for blue-collar mine workers to gain insight into their work experiences, and 6) to evaluate the psychometric properties of the newly developed job demands-resources scale for blue-collar mine workers. The empirical study consisted of two phases. During the first phase, following an extensive literature review, a definition and theoretical framework for psychological fitness was proposed. Thereafter, a new instrument for measuring psychological fitness was developed and tested. An instrument for measuring the work characteristics of blue-collar mine workers has also been developed to further the understanding of their work experiences. During the second phase, the psychometric properties of the newly developed psychological fitness instrument were tested (i.e. factorial validity, factorial invariance, reliability and external validity; N = 2769). Furthermore, the psychometric properties of the newly developed job demands-resources scale for blue collar workers were also investigated (i.e. factorial validity, reliability and the relationship with theoretically relevant external variables; N = 361). During the conceptualisation process, the definition of psychological fitness has been proposed based on previous work-related well-being literature. The work-related well-being concepts, distress and eustress were proposed as indicators of psychological fitness. Therefore, psychological fitness was defined as a state in which an employee display high levels of emotional and mental energy and high levels of psychological motivation to be able to work and act safely. The dimensions of burnout and engagement were proposed as possible indicators of psychological fitness and included exhaustion, mental distance, cognitive weariness, vitality and work devotion. Furthermore, the underlying work-related well-being theories and models were identified as the theoretic framework to enable the development of a questionnaire for psychological fitness. In order to ensure that the low literacy employees understand the meaning of each questionnaire close attention has been paid during the development of items. Firstly, the psychological fitness instrument (SAPFI) for blue-collar employees has been translated into all the official languages of South Africa following a multistage translation process. Secondly, the job demands-resources scale for blue collar mine workers (JDRSM) has been translated into the three most commonly spoken languages (Sesotho, isiXhosa and Setswana) by employees working in this specific mine. During this phase various problematic items were identified and eliminated from both questionnaires using the Rasch measurement model. The final phase included the validation study where the psychometric properties of both the new instruments were investigated. The SAPFI results provided evidence for factorial validity, factorial invariance, reliability and significant relations with external variables of the distress scale. Although evidence was provided for the factorial validity, reliability and external validity of the eustress scale, factorial invariance could not be confirmed. Furthermore, the JDRSM results provided evidence for the factorial validity, reliability (except for the workload scale) and external validity. Recommendations for future research were made.
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