Work Characteristics, Work -Home Interaction and Engagement of Employees in the Mining Industry

Article excerpt


This study focused on the relationship between work characteristics, Work-Home Interaction (WHI), and Home-Work Interaction (HWI) of mining employees who were low and high in work engagement. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among employees from various mining companies in the Gauteng, Limpopo and North West Provinces (n = 320). A self-developed work characteristic questionnaire, the Survey Work-Home Interaction - NijmeGen (SWING) and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) were administered. Chi-square and t-tests suggested significant relationships between work engagement and ethnicity, autonomy, social support, instrumental support, task characteristics, positive WHI and positive HWI. Logistic regression analyses revealed that ethnicity, autonomy, task characteristics and positive HWI were significant predictors of high work engagement.


It is generally known that management's most fundamental directive is to increase the wealth of shareholders. The mandate of management, in traditional organisations, has been characterised by a strong emphasis on strict organisationalstructuresandeconomic principlessuchas cost reduction, efficiency and cash flow. However, the focus of the modern organisation has recently shifted to the management of human capital, where employees are considered to be the most valuable asset (Schaufeli and Salanova, in press). Currently, organisations expect their employees to be proactive, show creativity, cooperate with each other in teams, take responsibility for their own development, and be committed to performance (Schaufeli and Salanova, in press). Organisations whose employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, who are not committed to the organisation and who are continuously absent from work in an attempt to recover from extremely high job demands, will certainly experience severe financial constraints (Goetzel, Guindon, Turshen and Ozminskowski, 2001). Therefore, management should not restrict its focus exclusively to aspects such as financial profit, productivity, and the management of employees, but should also focus on enhancing those aspects of the job that would result in its employees feeling energetic, dedicated, and engaged in their work.

Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá and Bakker (2002) describe "engaged" employees as having a sense of energetic and effective connection with their work activities and seeing themselves as able to deal competitively with the demands of their job. Recent research has indicated that work engagement is associated with positive results for organisation well-being, including apositiveattitudetowardsworkandtheor ganisation,job satisfaction, organisational commitment and low turnover intention (Demerouti, Bakker, De Jonge, Janssen and Schaufeli, 2001; Salanova, Schaufeli, Llorens, Peiro and Grau, 2000; Schaufeli, Taris and Van Rhenen, in press), positive organisational behaviour such as personal initiativeandlearningmotivation (Sonnentag,2003),and proactive behaviour and job performance (Salanova, Llorens, Cifre, Martínez and Schaufeli, 2003).

In a continuously changing environment it is clear that organisations, including the mining industry, need a workforce that is characterised by engaged employees. It is also important to determine what stimulates work engagement and what its consequences are. This insight would allow for a deeper understanding of whether the levels of work engagement can be positively correlated to certain employee characteristics and working conditions. Although research has shown that there are a number of antecedents and correlates of work engagement, this study focuses on the relationship between work engagement, work characteristics, and the interaction between work and home, including Work-Home Interaction (WHI) and Home- Work Interaction (HWI).

Owing to their important contribution to the economy of South Africa, various companies in the mining industry need to maintain a competitive advantage in complying with the demands of change, and as a result, impose various forms of Stressors on their employees. …