Development emotional intelligence for increased work engagement, organisational commitment, and satisfaction with work life

Herman, Carl R. (2013-03)

Thesis (MComm)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Highly competitive organisations are aware that their competitive edge lies within their human capital. In order for such organisation to stay ahead investing in best practices regarding people management and development is of paramount importance. In recent times, work engagement has been empirically linked to many positive organisational outcomes (Bakker, Demerouti, & Verbeke, 2004; Salanova, Agut, & Peiro, 2005; Schaufeli, Taris, & Bakker, 2006a). However, research on practical organisational interventions, aimed at increasing work engagement, is scant. Engaged employees often experience positive emotions (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). Happy people are more sensitive to opportunities at work, more outgoing and helpful to others, more confident when interacting with others and more optimistic when taking on challenges. According to Bakker, Schaufeli, Leiter, and Taris (2008) engagement not only stems from job resources, but from personal resources as well. Building on Fredrickson’s (2000) Broad and Build theory of positive emotions, it is argued in this study that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a personal resource that has not been studied in relation to work engagement. EI refers to the capacity to effectively perceive, express, understand and manage emotions in a professional and effective manner at work (Palmer & Stough, 2001). EI regulation abilities (e.g. emotional management and control) help increase individuals’ coping and / or resilience when more positive affect is experienced, according to Fredrickson’s Broad and Build theory, and should therefore be a particularly important personal resource for the enhancement of work engagement. The development of EI has progressively been gaining positive momentum and various studies have provided empirical support to suggest that EI can be developed (Dulewicz & Higgs, 2004; Fletcher, Leadbetter, Curran, & O’Sullivan, 2009; Gardner, 2005; Gorgens-Ekermans, 2011; Nelis, Quoidbach, Mikolajczak, & Hansenne, 2009; Slaski & Cartwright, 2003). By using the Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (SUEIT) theoretical framework, it is argued that by developing emotional recognition and regulation abilities, specifically that of emotional management, employees would be better able to manage their positive and negative emotions, thereby improving their positive psychological state at work, which should increase their level of engagement. It is furthermore argued that increased EI will also affect other positive organisational outcomes, such as organisational commitment and satisfaction with work life. To this end, an EI training intervention programme was implemented and evaluated within an international courier company based in Cape Town, South Africa. A controlled experimental design (two-group pre- and post-test design) was utilised for the research. The EI training programme was evaluated in terms of its effect on EI, work engagement, organisational commitment and satisfaction with work life. A second objective of the study was to investigate and replicate previous research on the interrelationships between the constructs in the study within a South African sample. The total sample consisted of 35 full time employees. Three assessments were conducted (one week before the start of the intervention, immediately after the completion of the training, and two and a half months thereafter) The findings of the study demonstrated limited empirical support for the notion that EI training could improve levels of EI. Although definite trends to suggest this were evident in the data, the results were not statistically significant. Empirical evidence further suggested partial and weak support for work engagement and satisfaction with work life levels increasing as a result of the intervention. Unfortunately no support for organisational commitment levels improving as a result of the training was found. In terms of exploring and replicating the interrelationships between the constructs in the study, favourable results were found. Significant positive relationships emerged between all the related constructs. The results, however, need to be interpreted in terms of the limitations that were identified for this study. The results suggest that more research is required in this domain.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hoogs kompeterende maatskappye is bewus daarvan dat hul vlak van mededingingheid grootliks opgesluit lê in hul menslike hulpbronne. Vir sulke organisasies om vooruitstrewend te wees, is die beleging in menseontwikkeling en bestuur van uiterste belang. Empiriese navorsing oor werknemerbetrokkenheid toon dat dit verband hou met baie positiewe organisatoriese uitkomste (Bakker, Demerouti, & Verbeke, 2004; Salanova, Agut, & Peiro, 2005; Schaufeli, Taris, & Bakker, 2006a). Navorsing oor praktiese organisatoriese intervensies om werknemersbetrokkenheid te verhoog, is egter skaars. Werknemers met hoë werknemerbetrokkenheid ervaar gereeld positiewe emosies (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). Gelukkige werknemers is meer bewus van geleenthede, is meer sosiaal en hulpvaardig, meer selfversekerd in sosiale omstandighede, en meer optimisties wanneer hulle gekonfronteer word met uitdagings. Volgens Bakker, Schaufeli, Leiter, en Taris (2008) spruit werknemersbetrokkenheid nie net voort uit werksbronne nie, maar ook vanuit persoonlike hulpbronne. Na aanleiding van Fredrickson se (2000) “Broaden and Build” teorie oor positiewe emosies word daar in hierdie studie geargumenteer dat Emosionele Intelligensie (EI) ‘n persoonlike hulpbron is, wat nog nie in verwantskap met werknemersbetrokkenheid bestudeer is nie. EI verwys na die kapasiteit om emosies binne die werkskonteks te kan herken, verstaan en bestuur op ʼn professionele en effektiewe wyse (Palmer & Stough, 2001). EI reguleringsvaardighede (bv. emosionele bestuur en beheer) bevorder individue se hanteringsvaardighede en veerkragtigheid wanneer meer positiewe emosies ervaar word. Volgens Fredrickson se “Broaden and build” teorie behoort dit dus ʼn belangrike persoonlike hulpbron te wees wat tot verhoogde werknemersbetrokkenheid kan lei. Positiewe voortuitgang in studies oor die ontwikkeling van EI bestaan tans en verskeie studies het tot dusver wetenskaplike steun verskaf vir die verwagting dat EI ontwikkel kan word (Dulewicz & Higgs, 2004; Fletcher, Leadbetter, Curran, & O’Sullivan, 2009; Gardner. 2005; Gorgens- Ekermans, 2011; Nelis, Quoidbach, Mikolajczak, & Hansenne, 2009; Slaski & Cartwright, 2003). Deur gebruik te maak van die Swinburne Universiteit Emosionele Intelligensie toets (die SUEIT) se teoretiese raamwerk, word daar geargumenteer dat die bevordering van emosionele herkennings- en reguleringsvermoë, spesifiek emosionele bestuur, werknemers se vermoë om hulle eie positiewe en negatiewe emosies te bestuur, behoort te verbeter. Dit sou ʼn verbeterde positiewe sielkundige toestand by die werk tot gevolg kan hê, wat tot verhoogde werknemersbetrokkenheid kan lei. Daar word ook aangevoer that verhoogde EI ook ander positiewe organisatoriese uitkomste, soos organisatoriese toewyding en satisfaksie met werkslewe, positief sal affekteer. Gevolglik is 'n EI opleidingsprogram geïmplementeer en geëvalueer in ‘n internasionale afleweringsmaatskappy wat gebaseer is in Kaapstad, Suid Afrika. ‘n Beheerde eksperimentele ontwerp (twee-groep voor- en natoetsontwerp) is gebruik in hierdie navorsing. Die EI opleidingsprogram is geëvalueer in terme van die effek op die EI, werknemerbetrokkenheid, organisatoriese toewyding en satisfaksie met werkslewe. ’n Tweede doel stelling van die studie was ook om die verwantskappe tussen die konstrukte te ondersoek en vorige navorsing in die verband binne ʼn Suid-Afrikaanse steekproef te reproduseer. Die totale steekproef het bestaan uit 35 permanent aangestelde werknemers. Drie assesserings het plaasgevind (een week voor die aanvang van die intervensie, direk na die afhandeling van die opleiding, en twee en ‘n half maande daarna). Die bevindinge van die studie het beperkte empiriese bewyse verskaf vir die aanname dat EI opleiding wel EI vlakke kan bevorder. Alhoewel daar duidelike tendense was wat dit suggereer in die data, was die resultate nie statistiese beduidend nie. Die empiriese bewyse het verder slegs gedeeltelike en swak ondersteuning verskaf vir die aanname dat werknemerbetrokkenheid en satisfaksie met werkslewe verbeter het as gevolg van blootstelling aan die intervensie. Geen bewyse dat organisatoriese toewydingsvlakke verbeter het as gevolg van blootstelling aan die intervensie, is gevind nie. Gunstige resultate aangaande die verwagte verwantskappe tussen die konstrukte in die studie is gevind. Positiewe, betekenisvolle verwantskappe tussen al die konstrukte word gerapporteer. Die resultate van die studie behoort binne die konteks van die beperkinge wat vir hierdie studie geïdentifiseer is, interpreteer te word. Die resultate toon dat meer navorsing in hierdie domein benodig word.

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