Original Research

Investigating the impact of a combined approach of perceived organisational support for strengths use and deficit correction on employee outcomes

Crizelle Els, Karina Mostert, Marianne Van Woerkom
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a882 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.882 | © 2018 Crizelle Els, Karina Mostert, Marianne Van Woerkom | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 November 2016 | Published: 28 March 2018

About the author(s)

Crizelle Els, WorkWell Research Unit for Economic and Management, North-West University, South Africa
Karina Mostert, WorkWell Research Unit for Economic and Management, North-West University, South Africa
Marianne Van Woerkom, Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Netherlands


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Abstract

Orientation: The positive psychology paradigm suggests a balanced focus on employee strengths and deficits. However, an overemphasis on strengths has raised questions regarding the value of a focus on strengths use, deficit improvement or a combined approach with a balanced focus on both.

Research purpose: The primary objective was to examine whether perceived organisational support (POS) for strengths use, POS for deficit improvement or a combined approach would be the strongest predictor of work engagement, learning, job satisfaction and turnover intention.

Motivation for the study: In the literature, there is little empirical evidence to support an approach where both employees’ strengths are used and their deficits improved.

Research design, approach and method: This study was conducted among 266 teachers from four public schools in the Western Cape. A cross-sectional survey design was used.

Main findings: The results suggest that both strengths use and deficit improvement are important predictors of work engagement, learning, job satisfaction and turnover intention. Learning was higher and turnover intention lower for individuals experiencing a combined approach compared to those believing that their school did not support them in either using their strengths or improving their deficits. Furthermore, a combined approach was associated with higher job satisfaction than a strengths-based approach, and a deficit-based approach was shown to be associated with higher levels of work engagement and lower turnover intentions compared to an environment where neither employees’ strengths nor deficits were addressed.

Practical or managerial implications: The results urge organisations to invest an equal amount of resources in their employees’ strengths and deficits, as opposed to neglecting either one. Such a combined approach may be associated with increased work engagement, learning and job satisfaction and lower turnover intention.

Contribution: This study provides empirical evidence that supports a combined approach where both employees’ strengths are used and their deficits developed.

Keywords

perceived organisational support for strengths use; perceived organisational support for deficit improvement; work engagement; learning; job satisfaction; turnover intention

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