Work-related well-being among police members in the North West Province
Jorgensen, Lené Ilyna
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Harsh realities exist in the South African Police Service (SAPS) that require concepts such as burnout and work engagement to be studied in the context of work-related well-being. Although these difficulties relate to police officials experiencing work-related trauma, more stressors seem to manifest on an organisational level, which in turn affects the psychological well-being of police officials. This study seeks to focus on the burnout and engagement of members of the Local Criminal and Record Centre (LCRC) in the SAPS. The members of the LCRC are exposed to severe occupational stressors relating to their job content, which necessitates research in occupational stress relating to the health of SAPS members. For the purposes of this study, the model of occupational stress, commitment and ill health of Cartwright and Cooper (2002) will be utilised to explain strain and organisational commitment. Work-related well-being, on the other hand, can best be explained by referring to the model of well-being developed by Schaufeli and Bakker (2001). Since job demands play a central role in burnout, it is necessary to implement preventive organisationally-based strategies to address high job demands. Upon reviewing stress research, it became clear that a serious lack of intervention research exists. Little information is available about the work-related well-being of SAPS members, whilst no documented research could be found regarding the effects of an intervention programme on the work-related well-being of LCRC members. The study aimed at utilising three levels of intervention (primary, secondary and tertiary) on organisational and individual level. An integrated classification scheme of both the positive and negative aspects of work-related well-being on the organisational and individual level was developed and presented to members from the LCRC over a one-year period. The research method for each of the three articles of this study consisted of a brief literature review and an empirical study. An availability non-randomised sample was selected because the entire in-tact group of the LCRC of the SAPS (N=111) in the North West Province was included in the study. A survey design was used to achieve the research objectives of both Articles 1 and 2, whilst a longitudinal survey design was utilised in Article 3, where the same instruments were administered at two different times (over a one-year period) to the same group of participants. The measuring instruments used in this study are the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES), Job Demands-Resources Scale (JDRS), Health subscales, Organisational Commitment subscales, the ASSET questionnaire and a biographical questionnaire. Structural equation modelling was implemented to test a structural model of work-related well-being. A good fit was found for the model in which perceived job demands contributed to burnout which, in turn, impacted on ill health. Work wellness was determined by the relationship between two opposite constructs, namely burnout and engagement. The work-related well-being of members of the LCRC was affected by an environment of high job demands and inadequate resources. In Article 2, multiple regression analyses showed that occupational stress explained 19% of the variance in psychological ill health and 17% of the variance in physical ill health. A two-step multiple regression analysis conducted with the variables in their continuous form revealed that control was a statistically significant predictor of both physical and psychological ill health, while job overload statistically significantly predicted psychological ill health. Occupational stress also explained 17% of the variance in individual commitment and 16% of the variance in organisational commitment. It was concluded that individual commitment moderated the effects of stressful work relations on ill health. LCRC members portrayed a high risk to fall ill due to exhaustion; they were less enthusiastic about their job and tended to derive a lower sense of significance from their work. In addition, members showed a major risk for developing low affective commitment due to low work engagement. Exhaustion influenced the way members view their job demands, organisational and social support, as well as growth opportunities available to them. A lack of advancement opportunities and job insecurity contributed to feelings of exhaustion and cynicism. Another objective of this study was to evaluate interventions used to promote work-related well-being of LCRC members. Although no significant differences were found between the pre- and post-measurements, some positive aspects did flow from the interventions. For instance an active effort by management to address resource needs. Recommendations for future research were made.