Indicators of the Quality of Work Life (QWL) of People with and without Physical Disabilities: A Comparative Study
There seems to be renewed interest in the issue of the quality of people’s work lives in South Africa or what is currently referred to as employee wellbeing or work wellness. Despite the attention that Quality of Worklife (QWL) has received from management theorists and the business world alike, the definition and application thereof remain rather vague. Employees, globally speaking, have been found to have a lower regard for authority coupled with a greater desire for self-expression, personal growth and self-fulfillment. Many now expect work that provides opportunities to fulfill higher order needs. In South Africa, differences between the ambitions of the First and Third Worlds may create different expectations in the work place causing tension between post materialistic and pure materialistic aspirations. The absence of QWL indicators for the South African situation is evident. To be employed in the open labour market is particularly important to the disabled, since this offers them the opportunity not only to be financially independent, but also to prove their self worth. Unfortunately, despite legislation and various documents relating to the importance of the employment of people with disabilities in the open labour market, there is still a high level of unemployment and under-utilization of people with disabilities in the South African labour market. People with disabilities are known to occupy a disadvantaged position in the work place, and are often ghettoised into low status, low paid jobs. It seems that the barriers to their employment and utilization are often of a social rather than an individual nature and it can be attributed, amongst others, to the discriminatory attitudes, prejudice, and practices of employers. Employers often have misconceptions with regards to the abilities, expectations, needs and QWL of people with disabilities. A greater awareness of the QWL needs and expectations of people with disabilities is essential in order to reduce the barriers to employment, as well as the under-utilization that many people with disabilities confront. The aim of this study was to identify, by means of a qualitative study, the indicators that people with and without physical disabilities use in the evaluation of their QWL and whether there are any differences between the needs and expectations of these two groups.
Keywords: Quality of Work Life (QWL), People with Physical Disabilities, Disability in the Work Place, Indicators of Quality of Work Life
Prof. Martina Kotzé
Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Psychology, University of the Free State