Differences in current and desired work values amongst academic employees within a Higher Education Institution in the Western Cape
Empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests that organisations, including higher education institutions (HEI‘s) have a propensity to focus on extrinsic rewards as a main motivator that attracts and retains staff (Kubler & De Luca, 2006). Twenge, Stacy, Campbell and Hoffman (2010) maintain that work values represent people‘s expectations from the workplace. Studies performed to determine the impact of intrinsic work values, as opposed to extrinsic work values and rewards, indicate that the sustainable factors influencing long-lasting career choices can be found in the attainment of intrinsic work values (Kovach, 1987; Masibigiri & Nienaber, 2011). With respect to leadership behaviours, intrinsic work values and rewards are seldom considered when focusing on the factors that lead to attracting and retaining academic staff. Werner (2011) posits the view that an understanding of underlying work values of employees can assist in sound people practices to foster engagement and retention of staff. Aspects of intrinsic work values become more important in the context of literature relative to research done about younger generations, who have different expectations from leadership and different ideas of desired work cultures (Sujansky, 2010). Brown (2003), as cited by Patton and McMahon (2009 p.41), states that ―occupational tenure is partially the result of the match between the culture and work values of the worker, supervisor and colleagues‖. The alignment of leadership culture to strategies is therefore important (Rhodes & Mc Guire, 2009). Moreover, the alignment between desired organizational work values and perceived current work values is contended to influence the effective functioning of a workplace. The current research was undertaken based on a cross-sectional, quantitative survey approach which requested participants to select work values out of a pre-designed list of approximately a hundred possible work-related values as positioned in the vision and mission statements of the institution at which the research was undertaken. The results of the research indicate that the two younger groups of academic staff who were targeted in this research, accord importance to intrinsic work values which relate to meaningful and fulfilling work. An analysis of the trends which emerged from the data suggest that leadership and cultural aspects designed to support desired work values may influence successful attraction and retention of these younger generations for academic careers. These findings emphasise the importance for leadership to act in alignment with change needs of academic staff and their own stated vision and mission strategies. The results provide useful insight into the current and perceived work-related values and could be used to inform strategic debates within the HEI. Although tentative in nature, the findings provide a heuristic framework within which to align work-related values across generations of academics and serve as an impetus for future research.