Original Research

Servant leadership and work-related well-being in a construction company

Michiel F. Coetzer, Mark H.R. Bussin, Madelyn Geldenhuys
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 43 | a1478 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1478 | © 2017 Michiel F. Coetzer, Mark H.R. Bussin, Madelyn Geldenhuys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2017 | Published: 17 November 2017

About the author(s)

Michiel F. Coetzer, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Mark H.R. Bussin, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Madelyn Geldenhuys, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: High levels of work-related well-being are imperative to ensure financial stability, competitiveness and sustainability in the construction industry. Leadership plays a fundamental role to enhance work engagement and to decrease burnout. The interrelationships between servant leadership, job demands, job resources, work engagement and burnout are still unknown, especially within the construction industry.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the interrelationships between servant leadership, job demands, job resources, work engagement and burnout in a construction company.

Motivation for the study: The construction industry is a highly demanding and labour intensive industry, which makes it difficult to sustain high work engagement and low burnout. This industry therefore calls for a people-orientated leadership approach, such as servant leadership, to enhance job resources to ultimately increase work engagement and to decrease burnout levels.

Research design, approach and method: A quantitative research design was applied and four quantitative surveys were used to collect data. Two hundred and twenty-four sets of questionnaires were completed by employees in a South African construction company.

Main findings: The results indicated that job resources mediated a positive relationship between servant leadership and work engagement and a negative relationship between servant leadership and burnout. Servant leadership had a positive significant relationship with job resources and significantly explained a proportion of the variance in job resources. Job resources, in turn, significantly explained a proportion of increase in work engagement levels and a proportion of reduction in burnout levels. An insignificant relationship was found between job demands and servant leadership.

Practical or managerial implications: The findings showed that servant leadership could be used as an effective leadership approach to enhance work engagement and to decrease burnout in the construction industry.

Contribution or value-add: This study makes a theoretical contribution to the body of knowledge on servant leadership and work-related well-being by providing empirical evidence on the interrelationships between servant leadership, job demands, job resources, work engagement and burnout.


Keywords

servant leadership; work engagement; burnout; job demands; job resources

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