Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Organisational Commitment, Work Engagement and Meaning of Work of Nursing Staff in Hospitals

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Organisational Commitment, Work Engagement and Meaning of Work of Nursing Staff in Hospitals

Article excerpt


South Africa is becoming a more interdependent and interconnected country and, as a result, the mobility of skilled personnel is increasing (Pillay, 2009). Health care systems are also affected by health professionals moving out of the market, leading to adverse consequences for the country. Taking into consideration the role played by nursing staffin the effectiveness and sustainability of the country's health care systems, it is of considerable importance to understand the organisational and personal variables that motivate them to stay in their field and within a specific organisation (Pillay, 2009). Jacobs and Roodt (2007) proposed that, since financial constraints, exchange rates and tax-free salaries at times make it difficult for local hospitals to compete with offerings from international competitors, their retention strategies should focus on what they can control. Another important factor is the need for enough, competent nursing staffin the health care sector in order to reach the goals of primary health care in South Africa as set out by the Millennium Development Goals (Pillay, 2010). Consequently, this article proposes the building of strategies around organisational commitment, work engagement and meaning of work amongst nurses.

Nurses have expressed the importance of being valued by their organisation, and being part of a community of practice that gives them a sense of meaning (Hemsley-Brown, 1997). According to Van den Heuvel, Demerouti, Schreurs, Bakker and Schaufeli (2006), it has become progressively important for employees to find meaning and value in their work. Previous research has also acknowledged the importance of the experience of meaning for optimal human functioning (Van den Heuvel et al., 2006). Lack of meaning in one's work may lead to disengagement (Van den Heuvel et al., 2006). Therefore, finding meaning in their work may make nurses feel more energised about their work, and thus more engaged (May, Gilson & Harter, 2004). Schacklock and Brunetto (2012) found an interesting view on meaning: according to their study, nursing staffare less committed to a specific hospital but seek an environment where they can experience optimal meaning in their work. The Towers Perrin Talent Report (2003) states that engagement rests on a meaningful work experience. Organisations must thrive on the mental power of their employees by providing work that leads to employee engagement (Townsend & Gebhardt, 2008). If employees are engaged they will become aware of the organisational context and will work with others to improve performance within their roles to benefit the organisation (Devi, 2009).

Since people spend more than a third of their lives at work (Wrzesniewski, McCauley, Rozin & Schwartz, 1997), it is important to look at concepts such as meaning of work and engagement (May et al., 2004). Employees move from one job to another in search of the right company when they don't experience any personal meaning in their work (Singh, Jain & Bhandarker, 2006).

Organisational commitment can therefore be considered as a fundamental component as it is a result of whether an employee finds meaning in their work (Van den Heuvel et al., 2006). Organisational commitment has been described as the attachment between employees and their organisation (Jacobs & Roodt, 2007). Employees who are engaged are less likely to leave the organisation due to a concern for and desire to meet patients' needs. Baskin (2007) also found that an employee who is not engaged is more likely to leave the organisation. In a recent global workforce study by the Towers Watson Company (2012), involving 32 000 employees across different industries in the world, the link between engagement and retention is confirmed.

It is reported that the number of qualified and unqualified nurses working as nurses has recently shown a significant decline compared with a decade ago (Hemsley-Brown, 1997). …

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