Orientation: A literature search for studies on the well-being of support staff of higher education institutions (HEIs) produced very little results. Appreciation was then used to identify elements that might enhance the well-being of a selected HEI’s support staff. Research purpose: The aim was to explore the strengths of a selected HEI that might serve as driving forces for enhancing its support staff’s well-being. Motivation for the study: The lack of research on the well-being of support staff motivated the study. A need was identified to explore driving forces that might enhance their well-being. Research design, approach and method: A literature review guided by theoretical perspectives and theories on staff well-being was conducted. Subsequently, a qualitative action research design involving an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) workshop with support staff of an institution was followed. Main findings: The following strengths that might serve as driving forces for enhancing the well-being of the institution’s support services staff were identified: hard-working and dedicated support staff, positive relations among colleagues, a willingness to adapt to change, good remuneration and benefits, job security and a supportive work environment. Appreciative Inquiry was found to be well suited for identifying such strengths, as opposed to methods that focus on identifying problems or weaknesses of an organisation. As a result of this study, the relevant institution might react and build on these identified strengths towards promoting the well-being of its support staff. Practical/managerial implications: Institutions should make an effort to enhance staff wellbeing. The results of the study could also be used to encourage HEIs to use AI to establish optimal staff well-being. Contribution/value add: The study confirmed the power of appreciation to identify the strengths that might serve as driving forces for enhancing the well-being of support staff of an HEI.
van Straaten, L., du Plessis, A., & Fanus Van Tonder, S. P. (2016). Enhancing the well-being of support services staff in higher education: The power of appreciation. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 42(1). https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v42i1.1301