For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The gain spiral of resources and work engagement: Sustaining a positive worklife"

by Salanova, Marisa; Schaufeli, Wilmar B; Xanthopoulou, Despoina; Bakker, Arnold B (2010)


People try to acquire resources at work which they value such as autonomy, social relationships, and feedback about their performance. These job resources are functional in achieving work goals and may stimulate personal growth, learning, and development. As such, job resources initiate a motivational process that may lead to work engagement and positive organizational outcomes, including enhanced performance (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). This premise is consistent with traditional motivational approaches such as job characteristics theory (Hackman & Oldham, 1980) and self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). According to the former approach, particular job characteristics such as skill variety, autonomy, and feedback have motivating potential and indirectly predict positive outcomes like intrinsic motivation (a concept closely related to work engagement), through the activation of positive psychological states. In a somewhat similar vein, self-determination theory posits that job resources are motivating because they fulfill basic human needs, such as the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Consequently, work contexts that provide resources such as job control (autonomy), feedback (competence), and social support (relatedness) would enhance well-being and increase intrinsic satisfaction at work (Ryan & Frederick, 1997).

Key Passage

... work engagement, as an indicator of positive psychological well-being (Schaufeli & Salanova, 2007), may be a direct or indirect outcome of positive emotions. The view of work engagement as a direct outcome of positive emotions suggests that engagement may explain why positive emotions, by broadening cognitive functions, build resources. Frequent experiences of positive emotions in the workplace may lead to a more persistent, positive affective state, namely work engagement. Indeed, Salanova et al. (2008) showed that work and task engagement was predicted by positive emotions such as (individual and collective) enthusiasm, satisfaction, and comfort. Similarly, Schaufeli and Van Rhenen (2006) showed in their study among 815 Dutch managers that work-related positive affect partially mediated the relationship between job resources on the one hand, and work engagement and positive attitudes towards the organization on the other hand. In this context, employees who often feel enthusiasm, pride or joy while working are more likely to be interested in what they have to do and as a result may end up being in a more 1 pervasive motivational state of energy, dedication, and total immersion in their work. Engaged employees, who are intrinsically motivated to fulfill their work goals, will look for or create resources in their environment, in order to achieve these goals, as assumed by COR theory (see above). Resourceful environments may improve the beliefs employees have regarding their capabilities to control and achieve their work goals successfully (i.e., personal resources). Consequently, this may lead to enhanced wellbeing and performance, which in their turn may elicit even more experiences of positive emotions. (p.126)


Work Life Balance, Autonomy, Balance, Resources, Relationships, Personal Growth, Job Control, Work Engagement


Psychological Centrality of Work

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