Work wellness among secondary school teachers in the Goldfield region of the Free State Province
The only constant thing in today's world is change. Change is everywhere, even in the education sector. The education system has undergone tremendous changes in the past 10 years. This includes several curriculum changes. Change always contributes to stress, which individuals in the education department are experiencing quite intensively, judging by the popular media. Stressful events may lead to ill-health and might negatively impact the workforce and the overall well-being of these educators. The emergence of positive psychology has contributed to the increased research of well-being, rather than the negative antipode of illness, in relation to occupational stress. One of these positive aspects of wellbeing is work engagement, which is considered to be the opposite of burnout. Thus, describing burnout, engagement and stress is a first step in facilitating the work-related wellness of educators. Furthermore, individual dispositions that may act as resources or buffers in the handling of stress and burnout, facilitate engagement and protect educators7 health are also of interest. To measure burnout, engagement, stress and health, it is important to use reliable and valid instruments. Various studies are available on the reliability and validity of the burnout and engagement scales, but it is rather limited for educators in the South African environment. Furthermore, little information exists regarding the causes and effects of work stress, health, burnout and engagement of educators in South Africa. The first objective of this research was to standardise the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS) and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) for educators in the Goldfield region of the Northern Free State province. The second objective was to determine if biographical variables can be used to describe educators' burnout and engagement. The third objective of this research was to determine causes of stress among educators, and again to investigate the role of biographical differences. Lastly, the focus in this research fell on the determination of the role of optimism in predicting the health of educators in the Goldfield region of the Northern Free State province. A cross-sectional survey design, in which a sample is drawn from a population at one point in time, was used to attain the research objectives. Participants were randomly selected from the total population of educators in the Goldfield region of the Northern Free State province. A sample of 469 educators was used from the total population of 1014 (i.e. 46,25% of the total population). Schools in the Goldfields region of the Northern Free State province were randomly selected to participate in this research. The MBI-GS, the UWES, the Educator Stress Questionnaire (which was developed by the author for the purpose of this research), the Health Subscales of the Asset, the LOT-R and a biographical questionnaire was administered. Descriptive statistics, Cronbach alpha coefficients, inter-item correlations, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, Pearson correlations, multivariate analysis of variance, one-way analysis of variance, t-tests, dummy coding and multiple-regression analyses with interaction terms were used to analyse the data. Structural-equation modelling confirmed a three-factor model of burnout consisting of Exhaustion, Depersonalization and Professional Efficacy. All three factors showed acceptable internal consistencies for three main language groups. A three-factor model of engagement was also confirmed, consisting of Vigour, Dedication and Absorption. These scales also indicated acceptable reliability. Results of a second order factor analysis indicated that the work wellness of educators can be described as consisting of two dimensions. The Burnout dimensions of Exhaustion and Depersonalisation can be grouped together on one factor, while the Burnout dimension of Professional Efficacy can be grouped with the Engagement variables of Vigour, Dedication and Absorption. Results showed that biographical variables that consist of the gender, marital status, home language, age and years work experience of educators could be used to describe educator burnout and engagement. It was found that Exhaustion could be predicted by gender. Educators who speak an African language scored lower than Afrikaans-speaking educators in terms of Exhaustion. Marital status could also be used to predict exhaustion. Educators between the ages of 37 and 46 measure lower on depersonalisation than educators between the ages of 22 and 30 years. Educators who have between 13 and 20 years of experience, have higher levels of depersonalisation than participants with 6 or less years of experience. Both English and African-language-speaking educators measure lower on Professional Efficacy than the Afrikaans language group. Language remains a significant predictor of Professional Efficacy. Educators who are older than 31 years of age measure higher on Professional Efficacy than those younger than 31 years of age. Professional Efficacy could be predicted among educators who are English speaking and/ or older than 31 years of age. Additionally, being married or divorced measure lower on Professional Efficacy when compared to their single counterparts. The eldest educators measure higher on Professional Efficacy. Female educators measure lower on Vigour than their male counterparts. Educators between the ages of 47 and 64 measure higher on dedication than educators between the age of 22 and 30 years. Married educators measured lower on dedication, when compared to single educators. The ESQ, a measure of educators' occupational stress that consists of 48 items, was developed and administered. During analysis, 4 items were discarded due to non-loading, and a further 8 items were discarded due to significant secondary loadings. Five factors were extracted and were labelled Rewards and Participation, Support and Communication, Job Insecurity, Role Overload and Task Characteristics. Furthermore, the biographical variables that were used to describe burnout and engagement among educators (language, age, gender, work experience and marital status), could also be used to describe educator stress. The various stress factors that were identified through the ESQ, could also be used to determine well-being among educators. This includes Support and Communication, Rewards and Participation, Role Overload, Job Insecurity and Task Characteristics. In terms of predicting the physical and psychological health of educators, separate analyses were carried out for the burnout and engagement components. It was shown that that educators' home language, their experience of optimism, role overload and task characteristics predicts physical health, and home language, participants' levels of optimism, experiences of rewards and participation, support and communication, job insecurity, role overload and task characteristics predicts psychological health. Additionally, the interaction terms Professional Efficacy and Optimism, as well as the interaction between Vigour and Optimism, proved to be significant predictors of physical health. The interaction term of Depersonalisation and Optimism, as well as the interaction term of Support and Communication and Optimism, proved to be significant predictors of psychological health. Language was also shown to be a constant predictor of physical and psychological health, where educators speaking an African language experienced significantly better overall well-being than Afrikaans and English-speaking educators. By way of conclusion, recommendations for future research and the education department are made.