EMPLOYEE PSYCHOLOGICAL CAPITAL
Psychological Capital or PsyCap was defined by Luthans et al. (2007) as “the individual’s positive psychological state of development characterized by hope, optimism, resiliency and self-efficacy”. Luthans et al. (2004) also stated that Hope, Optimism, Resilience and Self- efficacy (i.e. four positive psychological capacities or components) are characterized by measurable, open for development and manageable. Self-efficacy was defined by Bandura (1997) as “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments”.
A widely accepted definition of self-efficacy was provided by Stajkovic and Luthans (1998b) as ” an individual’s convictions (or confidence) about his or her abilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to successfully execute a specific task within a given context”. In several meta-analysis reports, Self-efficacy and work-related performance were found strongly and positively related with each other (Sadri and Robertson, 1993; Stajkovic and Luthans, 1998a; Judge et al., 2007).
Hope was defined as “a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (1) agency (goal-directed energy) and (2) pathways (planning to meet goals)”. Hope has been found associated with job performance, satisfaction and retention, profitability, performance, job satisfaction, work happiness, and organizational commitment (Youssef and Luthans, 2007).
Seligman (1998a) gave the definition of optimism as “An attributional style that explains positive events in terms of personal, permanent, and pervasive causes and negative events in terms of external, temporary, and situation-specific ones”. Scheier and Carver (1985) introduced the expectancy-value theory of optimism. Optimism has been found to linked with several workplace outcomes like job satisfaction, performance, organizational.
PsyCap with the combination of Hope, Resilience, self- efficacy and Optimism capacities, exhibited as a core factor and effective predictor of performance and satisfaction (Luthans et al., 2007).
Snyder (2002) explains hope as a multidimensional construct that consists of an individual’s ‘willpower’ and ‘waypower’. Willpower is an individual’s agency or determination to achieve goals and ‘waypower’ is one’s ability to devise alternative pathways and contingency plans in order to achieve a goal in the face of obstacles (Snyder et al., 1991). Hope enables individuals to be motivated to attain success with the task at hand by looking for the best pathway (Avey et al., 2008). The components of hope thus complement each other.
Hope has made a significant contribution to positive PsyCap and has demonstrated importance in the workplace. For instance, researchers discovered that hope predicted job performance beyond cognitive ability and self-efficacy (Peterson et al., 2009). Moreover, Youssef and Luthans (2007) found that it had a positive effect on employee satisfaction, organisational commitment and work happiness. Hope also protects an individual’s perceptions of vulnerability, uncontrollability and unpredictability (Snyder, 2002). Snyder (2002) thus believe that sustaining employees’ hope is necessary for employee wellbeing.
Optimism is more closely associated with positive psychology than the other constructs (Luthans et al., 2004). It is regarded as being a realistic, flexible and dynamic construct that can be learned and developed (Peterson, 2000). Peterson (2000) defined Optimism as persistence and pervasiveness – two key dimensions of how people explain events. People with an optimistic outlook see setbacks as challenges and opportunities that can eventually lead to success.
These individuals persevere in the face of obstacles. In the work context, an optimistic employee is better able to assess external, temporary and situational circumstances (Youssef & Luthans, 2007).
In a South African study, Rothmann and Essenko (2007) found that dispositional optimism had a direct effect on exhaustion and cynicism amongst support staff in a higher education institution. Other research has shown that optimism correlated with employee engagement and employee performance. It is the authors’ view that optimism forms a vital part of a call center employee’s resource capacities as their optimistic approach to stressful and challenging situations could potentially have a positive impact on the achievement of work-related goals.
Rutter (1987) defined resilience as people’s ability to manipulate their environment successfully in order to protect them from the negative consequences of adverse events. Luthans (2002b) extended this definition to include people’s ability to ‘bounce back’ from adversity. In this regard, resilient people move on in life after having had a stressful experience or event such as personal adversity, conflict and/or failure. Therefore, resilience highlights the strength of the individual and his or her coping resources to successfully resolve and/or manage testing situations.
Research has attempted to link resilience positively with workplace performance (Luthans et al., 2007). Research indicates that when employees experience negative events in the workplace, individuals with high PsyCap are more likely to adapt positively and bounce back from those events, thus preventing the escalation and development of intentions to quit.
Stajkovic and Luthans (1998) define self-efficacy as an individual’s conviction regarding their ability to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources and courses of action necessary to accomplish a specific task within a given context. An individual’s perception and interpretation of events will influence and determine how they will address difficult challenges, as well as how they will experience of stress symptoms (Bandura, 2000). Those with high levels of efficacy will perceive challenges as surmountable, given sufficient competencies and effort.
Self-efficacy is a high-order construct of PsyCap (Luthans et al., 2007). This positive psychological resource capacity of confidence, which is a state, can be developed. It is described as an enthusiastic and independent concept, being linked closely with work-related performance (Luthans et al., 2004).
Self-efficacy has also been shown to be related to the socialisation and retention of new employees; as well as being related to organisational commitment and turnover intentions of existing staff (Harris & Cameron, 2005). In a South African study, Rothmann (2007) found that positive psychological constructs such as self-efficacy could have a mediating effect on occupational stress, burnout and work engagement. There are no studies in South African call centres on self-efficacy and its relation to work-related outcomes.