The moderating role of perceived organisational support in the relationship between workplace bullying and turnover intention across sectors in South Africa
Van Schalkwyk, Lena-Mari
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There is currently no legislation counteracting the impact of workplace bullying on South African employees, consequently generating an open invitation for all perpetrators in the organisation. The significance of bullying by superiors and bullying by colleagues is explored in this regard. Workplace bullying refers to behaviour which harasses, offends, excludes and affects the employees’ work tasks. This behaviour occurs repeatedly, frequently and over a period of time. As a result, the impact of bullying on employees has massive consequences on the absenteeism, profitability, turnover intention and the compensation claims of the organisation. The most common solution of workplace bullying results in resignation. Thus, this study also explores perceived organisational support (POS), acting as a moderator, to counteract workplace bullying in this regard. POS is defined by employees experiencing: role clarity, participation in decision–making, colleagues’ support, having sufficient job information and good supervisory relationships. This will not necessarily put an end to this phenomenon but creates awareness in the South African context. Many international researchers focused on defining bullying, exploring different perpetrators and identifying characteristics associated with targets of bullying. Nationally, research is still in its infancy, hence, this research explores workplace bullying in general, by focusing on different sectors across South Africa. This research addresses the main perpetrators, the impact on turnover intention and explores POS acting as a moderator in the relationship between workplace bullying and turnover intention. The objectives of this research was 1) to determine how workplace bullying, perceived organisational support and turnover intention are conceptualised according to the literature; 2) to determine the relationships between workplace bullying by superiors/colleagues, the sub–facets of perceived organisational support (role clarity, job information, participation in decision–making, colleague support and supervisory relationships) and turnover intention; 3) to determine the moderating role of the sub–facets of perceived organisational support (role clarity, job information, participation in decision–making, colleague support and supervisory relationships) in the relationship between workplace bullying (superiors and colleagues) and turnover intention. An availability sample of N =13911 participants were gathered over a spectrum of 9 provinces and 5 sectors. Hierarchical regression analyses was conducted in order to determine if POS acts as a moderator in the relationship between workplace bullying (either by superiors or by colleagues) and turnover intention. Results highlighted the prevalence of workplace bullying in the South African context. The statistical analysis revealed that workplace bullying by superiors and by colleagues has a negative relationship with all the sub–facets of POS. This implies that when bullying by superiors or colleagues increases, the sub–facets of POS will decrease. The intention to leave the organisation correlated negatively with the sub–facets of POS. This suggests that when POS exists in organisations employees will be retained. There is a positive relationship between both bullying by superiors and bullying by colleagues and the propensity to leave the organisation. In practice, this implies that when bullying increases (by either superiors or colleagues) more targets of bullying will be inclined to leave the organisation. According to the empirical results, POS, role clarity, participation in decision–making and supervisory relationships, was the only facets which acted as moderators in the relationship between workplace bullying by superiors and turnover intention, whereas no moderation was found with bullying by colleagues. Recommendations were made for the organisation and future research.