Work engagement of academic staff in higher education institutions in South Africa
Jordaan, Gertruida Magrietha Elizabeth
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Academics in South Africa are being confronted with a work environment accumulated with job demands, often without corresponding increases in job resources. Job demands and job resources might affect the levels of work engagement of academics in higher education institutions. Therefore, research is needed regarding work engagement of academics and the relationship thereof with job demands and resources. The objectives of this study were to investigate whether the UWES is a reliable and valid measure of work engagement for academic staff in universities in South Africa and to assess the relationships between work engagement, job demands and job resources. A cross-sectional survey design was used. The study population (N = 471) consisted of academic staff of the following universities: North-West University, University of Port Elizabeth and University of the Orange Free State. The UWES, Job-Demands-Resources Questionnaire and a biographical questionnaire was administered. The reliability and validity of the measuring instruments were assessed with the use of Cronbach alpha coefficients, and exploratory factor analysis. Descriptive statistics (e.g. means and standard deviations) were used to analyse the data. Pearson correlations and multiple regression analyses were used to assess the relationships between job demands, job resources and work engagement. Principal component analysis resulted in a one-factor model of work engagement, consisting of Vigour/Engagement. This factor showed an acceptable alpha coefficient. Regarding the Job Demands-Resources Scale, five reliable factors were extracted, namely Organisational Support, Growth Opportunities, Communion, Overload and Job Insecurity. The correlation coefficients indicated that engagement is positively related to growth opportunities, organisational support and communion. A regression analysis with engagement as dependent variable indicated that organisational support and growth opportunities in the job were the best predictors of work engagement. Job resources predicted 46% of the variance in work engagement, but only two job resources, namely organisational support and growth opportunities showed statistically significant regression coefficients. Recommendations for future research are made.
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