Social support, psychological conditions and work engagement as predictors of intention to stay
Education in South Africa plays an important role in the economy and in the future of the people of our country. There is a major shortage of suitably qualified teachers, not only in South Africa but worldwide. Other problems that exist within the teaching profession are teacher strikes, large number of learners in classes, violence, depression, anxiety, to name a few. Many teachers leave the profession as they are faced with all these different problems. It is therefore necessary to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Some teachers find pleasure from all these stressors and they can be described as engaged in their work. Hence, a shift towards a positive psychology mind-set is needed for teachers to stay in the teaching profession. Social support can be regarded as a positive mechanism between co-workers to show concern for each other's fee lings and to encourage good work performance. Social support is therefore a key factor in retaining teachers. The psychological conditions (psychological meaningfulness, psychological safety and psychological availability) are included in this study to examine how teachers experience themselves at the school and how psychological conditions influence their work engagement. The more social support colleagues receive, and the more engaged they are in their work, the more likely they are to stay in the profession. The general objective of this study was to investigate teachers' intention to stay in the teaching profession. A cross-sectional survey design was used in this study. A quantitative approach was followed by selecting a convenience sample of participants (N=233) in the Gauteng East di strict. The measuring instruments that were administered include the Work Experiences Scale and the Work Engagement Scale (May, Gilson & Harter, 2004), and the Intention to Stay Scale (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2007). The statistical analysis was carried out by using the SPSS programme (SPSS, 2009). Statistically significant relationships were found between social support, psychological conditions, work engagement and intention to stay. The results confirmed that social support and work engagement were significant predictors of intention to stay. The relationship between social support and work engagement was mediated by psychological conditions. Some of the recommendations include that schools should implement formal or informal support groups to maintain productivity as well as to create an environment that is safe. These support groups will make teachers more available to each other in order to discuss different challenges and initiatives. Regarding the recommendations for future research it came about that qualitative research would show the potential to identify vital factors that have not been recognised by this study where only certain questionnaires were used to find data amongst teachers. To conclude, this study suggests that social support and work engagement are vital constructs to consider when conducting research on the intention to stay of employees, and that psychological conditions plays a role in the relationship between social support and work engagement. Therefore, these dimensions also seem to have an influence on teachers' work and their intention to stay in the teaching profession.