Occupational self–efficacy as a mediator between strength– and deficiency–based approaches and work engagement in a sample of South African employees
Van der Merwe, Lani
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To stay competitive organisations need to harness and develop their human potential. Traditionally, a deficiency-based approach (DBA) was followed i.e. the focus was set on the development of employees’ deficiencies and weaknesses. However, focusing on an employee’s weaknesses and deficiencies was not sufficient. Consequently, a positive approach was developed that focuses on an individual’s strengths and talents. Unfortunately, exclusively focusing on only strengths or on weaknesses is not sufficient for optimum human functioning. Therefore, it is suggested that South African organisations make use of a balanced approach (i.e. a balanced focus on both the development and use of strengths and weaknesses). This will assist employees to be more positive and engaged in terms of their work. However, there seems to be a lack of research regarding the use of a balanced approach in organisations. The general objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between job resources, a strength-based approach (SBA), a DBA, occupational self-efficacy (OSE), and work engagement. This study was further aimed at determining whether OSE mediated the relationship between these variables among South African employees. An availability sample (N = 699) was taken from various South African organisations. This study made use of a quantitative, cross-sectional design to collect data; a biographical questionnaire; a job resources questionnaire (VBBA); an organisational SBA and DBA questionnaire; a OSE questionnaire and a work engagement questionnaire (UWES). Structural equation modelling was chosen as the method to test the hypothesised model. Mediating effects were tested by using the bootstrapping method. The research results have indicated that there is a positive correlation between autonomy, SBA, DBA, OSE and work engagement. This research found that no correlations existed between relationship with supervisor, information sharing and participation in decision-making and work engagement. There seems to be a significant relationship between autonomy, relationship with colleagues and OSE. From the results OSE can only be seen as the mediator between autonomy and work engagement. From this one can assume that using SBA and DBA in a balanced approach can lead to higher work engagement. Recommendations were made for the organisation and future research.