Original Research

Coping and work engagement in selected South African organisations

Sebastiaan Rothmann, Lene I. Jorgensen, Carin Hill
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 37, No 1 | a962 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v37i1.962 | © 2011 Sebastiaan Rothmann, Lene I. Jorgensen, Carin Hill | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 February 2011 | Published: 04 October 2011

About the author(s)

Sebastiaan Rothmann, North-West University - Vanderbijlpark Campus, South Africa
Lene I. Jorgensen, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Carin Hill, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: The coping strategies of their employees are amongst the activities that organisations should address to improve their employees’ work engagement.

Research purpose: The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between coping strategies and work engagement in three occupational groups in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: There is little understanding of the relationship between effective forms of coping and positive outcomes (like work engagement).

Research design, approach and method: The researchers used a survey design. They drew random and stratified samples (N = 3178) from three occupational groups. These were technical employees in an electricity provider, professional and enrolled nurses and police officers. They administered the Coping Orientations to the Problems Experienced (COPE) and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES).

Main findings: The results showed that there was a statistically significant relationship between work engagement, problem-focused coping, positive reinterpretation and growth. In the nursing sample, high problem-focused coping, low avoidance and low ventilation of emotions predicted work engagement best. In the police sample, four coping strategies (problem-focused coping, seeking social support, turning to religion and low ventilation of emotions) predicted work engagement best. In the technician sample, problem-focused coping and low ventilation of emotions predicted work engagement best.

Practical/managerial implications: Organisations should consider employees’ coping strategies when they introduce interventions to improve work engagement.

Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to the knowledge about the relationship between coping strategies and work engagement in South African organisations.


stress; happiness; engagement; coping; nurses; police officers; technicians


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