Occupational stress, organisational commitment and ill health of employees at a university of technology
Kotzé, Catharina Gertruida Petronella
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Higher education is important to the country's economic growth. Due to globalisation, it is important for higher education institutions to keep up with change. The introduction of universities of technology in response to this places a new demand on academic institutions in South Africa, creating more occupational stress on employees. Other expectations, for example demands for more research and publication exert more pressure on staff, which escalates these stress levels. Workload of staff fluctuates between higher and lower and with this, a change of fluctuating periods of stress from acute to chronic is described. This chronic stress has a negative impact on the individuals' physical and psychological health, their interpersonal relationships at work and the quality of their work, as well as on workplace morale. The objectives of the study were to establish how occupational stress, ill health and commitment are conceptualised in the literature; to establish what the occupational stress levels of staff at a university of technology are and to assess the mutual relationships among occupational stress, organisational commitment and ill health of employees at the specific institution. The research method consisted of a brief literature review and an empirical study. A cross-sectional survey design was used. A stratified random sample was taken of academic and support staff at a specific university of technology (N = 334). The ASSET Organizational Stress Screening Tool and a biographical questionnaire were administered on the personnel. Cronbach alpha coefficients were used to determine the significance of dimensions of the ASSET. Exploratory factor analysis was used to investigate the factor structure of the occupational stress items of the ASSET. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to specify the relationship between the variables. Standard multiple regression analyses were used to assess whether occupational stress predicts ill health and organisational commitment. The results showed that two occupational stressors, namely control and work relationships were higher than the norm. Physical and psychological ill health was predicted by occupational stress due to job demands and lack of organisational support. Occupational stress because of job demands had a significant effect on both affective and behavioural commitment of employees. Recommendations for future research were made.