The role of positive organisational behaviour in employee self–development and organisational outcomes
De Waal, Johannes Joachim Prinsloo
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Businesses are operating in extremely turbulent and dynamic environments – globally and nationally – and have to adapt to ever–increasing changing circumstances, as well as cope with severe pressure to increase profit margins in an attempt to ensure their economic survival. Adding to this challenge is the changing employment relationship characterised by diversity, complexity and high levels of work stress which contribute to poor physical and mental health and employee disengagement. Individuals are strongly influenced by their work environments, and the well–being of employees is therefore critical as it relates directly to work performance. Positive Organisational Behaviour (POB) emerges within the framework of the Positive Psychology movement. POB takes Positive Psychology to the work environment as it studies and applies positively orientated human resource strengths and psychological capabilities that can be measured, developed and effectively managed. The general objective of this research was to conceptualise the components of Positive Organisational Behaviour (POB) (hope, optimism, self–efficacy, and resilience) from the literature and establish the reliability of established international psychometric measures in a South African sample. Additionally, the relationship between POB and other work–related phenomena, such as job satisfaction and turnover intention, work stress and engagement are also of interest. Various research designs were employed to obtain the necessary data. First, a cross–sectional survey design was used to obtain a sample from the study population at a particular point in time. Data was gathered from all employees in a specific business unit in a chemical factory. In addition to the cross–sectional design, a one–group pre–test post–test design was also utilised to evaluate the effects of a self–development programme on POB. This design also allowed for the investigation of the role of POB in the link between organisational stress and employee health. Finally it was possible to test the cross–lagged effects between measurements of POB and Engagement, and investigate causality. The following measuring instruments were used in attaining the objectives of the empirical study, namely a biographical questionnaire, the Dispositional Hope Scale, Life Orientation Test–Revised (LOT–R), Self–Efficacy Scale, Ego–Resiliency Scale, Lack of Role Clarity, Role Conflict, Quantitative and Qualitative Role Overload, Job Satisfaction, Turnover Intention, Quantitative and Qualitative Job Insecurity, Neuroticism, General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES). The SPSS Programme was used to carry out statistical analysis to describe the participants in terms of demographic characteristics, investigate the reliability and validity of the measuring instruments, and reveal the nature and relationship of the variables in terms of descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, correlation coefficients and multiple regression analysis. The Amos Programme was used to carry out structural equation modelling. Exploratory and Confirmatory factor analysis established the validity of each of the four scales (hope, optimism, self–efficacy and resilience) that constitute POB and showed that only one factor explains the variance in the data, and that the individual scales relate positively to POB. The study provides support for the core POB construct in a heterogeneous South African sample and provides a new instrument for its measurement. Results confirmed a negative relationship between job satisfaction and turnover intention over time. No relationship between POB, job satisfaction and turnover intention could be found in this research. The only significant contributor to participants' turnover intention over time was their baseline levels of turnover intention and their job satisfaction at both baseline and at the second measurement. The moderating role of POB in the relationship between turnover intention and job satisfaction was also not supported. No evidence could however be found that the training programme had a significant contribution to increase job satisfaction and POB with the subsequent lower levels of turnover intention. Results indicated that only the job stressors, quantitative and qualitative job insecurity and the lack of role clarity hold predictive value with regard to POB (T1) and general health. It could also be established that POB (T1) acts as a partial mediator between job stressors and general health. The negative effect of job stressors can therefore be minimised in the presence of POB. A positive correlation between the stress factors (lack of role clarity, role conflict, role overload and job insecurity), neuroticism and general health is evident from the results of this research. Results also confirmed a positive relationship between the aggregate engagement and POB scores, as well as the positive relationship between the total POB and engagement score. Given the positive nature of all the constructs measured, the inter–correlations were significant at both Time 1 and 2. Results revealed that POB at Time 1 did not predict engagement at Time 2. Strong evidence was found, however, that engagement at Time 1 predicted POB at Time 2. This finding is in line with research which suggests that engagement can facilitate the mobilisation of job and personal resources. In closing, recommendations for the participating organisation and future research were made.