Occupational stress in a higher education institution
Mostert, Frans Frederick
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Higher educational institutions no longer provide the low-stress and highly satisfying working environment they once did. Higher educational institutions experience significant changes, which include restructuring, reduction of state subsidy and use of short-term contracts. Therefore, the changes in the higher educational environment can have costly implications for institutions in terms of staff morale, turnover and absenteeism rates and could also lead to reduced employee performance, poor quality control and a fall in production. It therefore becomes increasingly important for higher educational institutions to intervene to reduce the occupational stress of university staff. The objectives of this study were to determine the occupational stressors for support staff at a higher education institution in the North West Province, to investigate the relationship between occupational stress, ill health, organisational commitment and important organisational outcomes (including absenteeism, productivity and turnover intention) and to assess the financial implications of these factors in a sample of support staff at a higher education institution in the North West Province. A cross-sectional survey design was used. The study population consisted of support staff at a higher education institution in the North West Province (N = 292). An Organisational Screening Tool (ASSET) and a biographical questionnaire were administered. Descriptive statistics, Pearson and Spearman correlations, multiple regression analyses and discriminant analysis were used to analyse the results. The results showed that, compared to normative data, support staff overall demonstrated average levels of occupational stress. However, job control, resources, communication and work relationships were found to be problematic stressors which mainly influenced organisational commitment to the organisation. The prediction of losses suffered by the higher educational institution due to absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover intention indicate that occupational stress cost organisations greatly. Recommendations were made for the organisation and for future research.