Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Relationship between Organisational Trust and Quality of Work Life

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Relationship between Organisational Trust and Quality of Work Life

Article excerpt


Key focus of the study

The overall purpose of this research was to determine whether or not there is a significant relationship between organisational trust (comprising of the 'Big Five' personality dimensions [agreeableness, conscientiousness, resourcefulness, emotional stability and extraversion]) and managerial practices (information-sharing, work support, credibility and team management) and quality of work life (QWL), as well as between the 'Big Five' personality dimensions and trust for sales representatives within a South African beverage manufacturing, sales and distribution organisation. Furthermore, it was anticipated that data obtained from this study would enable management within an organisation to improve the QWL of the employees by focusing energy and resources on those aspects which could make a significant difference.

Background to the study

Employment relations within South Africa have changed significantly, altering the type of work employees do, when they work and how much they work (Rothmann, 2003). The extent and rate of change within organisations has created renewed interest in the quality of employees' work lives, particularly in South Africa where organisations have to deal with cultural diversity, the ethnic composition of the workforce and changes in value systems and beliefs (Kirby & Harter, 2001; Kotzé, 2005; Sekwena, 2007).

Dissatisfaction with working life is a problem affecting almost all employees during their working career, regardless of position or status. The boredom, frustration and anger experienced by employees disenchanted with their work life can be costly to both the individual and the organisation. Although many managers seek to reduce job dissatisfaction at all organisational levels, including their own, they sometimes find it difficult to isolate and identify all of the factors which affect and influence the QWL (Huang, Lawler & Lei, 2007; May, Lau & Johnson, 1999; Walton, 1973).

According to Kaushik and Tonk (2008) and Koonmee, Singhapakdi, Virakul and Lee (2010), an employee's QWL is determined by the interaction of personal and situational factors involving both personal (subjective) and external (objective) aspects of work-related rewards and experiences. From this, one can extrapolate that a person's awareness and evaluation of a situation can also have an influence on the perspective he or she has on that situation. According to Kotzé (2005), the changes in the ethnic composition of the South African workforce, specifically with regard to changes in beliefs and value systems, as well as the greater importance placed on knowledgeable workers, are factors which may influence QWL. Affirmed and emphasised by Martins (2000) and Schoorman, Mayer and Davis (2007), these changes in the workforce may also lead to an increase in the importance of trust in organisations. This is because perceptions of an individual's ability, benevolence and integrity will have an impact on how much trust the individual can acquire and will also affect to what extent an organisation will be trusted. Shaw (2005) also affirms that the success of QWL programmes will depend on the ability of an organisation to reinforce high levels of trust.

Quality of work life is assumed to affect various organisational factors (job effort and performance, organisational identification, job satisfaction and job involvement) (Ballou & Godwin, 2007), whilst organisational trust is the employee's expectation of the reliability of the organisation's promises and actions (Politis, 2003). Thus, the more the job and the organisation can gratify the needs of workers, the more effort workers may invest at work, with commensurate improvements in productivity (Huang et al., 2007; Kerce & Booth-Kewley, 1993; May et al., 1999).

Trends from the research literature

From the literature on organisational trust, it can be concluded that trust is an essential part of the effectiveness and performance of an organisation. …

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