|Various occupational stressors like the physical environment, noise, lighting, temperature.
aspects of the job, role conflict, workload, lack of career path, poor relationships with peers.
and lack of participation arc likely to lead to various stress outcomes, namely behavioural;
proneness to accidents, cognitive, inability to make sound decisions, physiological: increased
blood pressure, physical and mental health, and organisational: lower productivity, and high
turnover rate. These outcomes could however be influenced by moderator variables like age
and gender, physiological experience and affective behaviours (type 'A' behaviour, life
change, and social support). Studies have also found instances where some workers, exposed
10 the same unbearable work environments, did suffer from neither stress nor burnout. These
findings have therefore led to the study of work engagement, which is considered the opposite
The study of stress, burnout and work engagement has therefore become vehicles through
which employees' effectiveness and efficiency can be facilitated. It has become necessary to
jointly study stress with burnout and work engagement in a holistic model so as to how a
better understanding of work wellness. Burnout and work engagement therefore represent the
two aspects of wellness namely, the energy dimension and the identification with work
dimension. Studies have identified two underlying dimensions of work wellness in which they
identified activation as ranging from exhaustion to vigour, arid identification as ranging from
mental distance to dedication.
Thus burnout according to them is characterised by a combination of exhaustion (low
activation) and mental distance (low identification), while engagement is represented by
vigour (high activation) and dedication (high identification). Extreme exhaustion may render
employees emotionally and physically drained which may lead them to distance themselves
emotionally and cognitively from their work and clients, while an engaged worker develops
high levels of energy, and derives a sense of significance, attachment and dedication to work. However, to measure burnout, work engagement, stress, commitment and ill health requires
valid and reliable instruments. In South Africa there aren't many systematic studies that have
investigated stress, burnout, work engagement, commitment and ill health among civil
servants. It is this dearth of well-designed studies in the area that makes this study very
The objectives of this study were to assess the reliability and validity of the MBI-GS, the
UWES, the ASSET, the Job Demands-Resource Scale, Commitment and Ill Health subscales
Tor civil servants, determine the occupational stressors that they experience and whether the
biographic variables by any way increase or moderate the effects of the stressors, and to
finally test a structural model of work wellness consisting of burnout, work engagement, job
demands-job resources, ill health, and commitment.
The research method for each of the three articles consists of a brief literature review and an
empirical study. A cross-sectional survey design was used. An accidental sample (N = 500)
for research articles 1, 2 and 3 were targeted from the civil servants in the Mafikeng area of
the North West Province of South Africa. The measuring instruments used in this study are;
the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES), Job Demands and Job Resources Scale (JDRS), Health subscales. Organizational
Commitment subscales, the ASSET questionnaire and a biographical questionnaire.
Structural equation modelling was used to test the factor structures of the Maslach Burnout
Inventory-General Sunley (MBI-GS), and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES)
respectively. namely exhaustion, cynicism, cognitive weariness, and professional efficacy,
and vigour, dedication and absorption. In respect of the MBI-GS, a four-factor model of
burnout. consisting of exhaustion (physically drained), cynicism (distancing oneself from
colleagues and clients), professional efficacy (feeling of accomplishment) and cognitive
weariness (lack of focus on one's work), was found to fit the sample data best in comparison
to the three-factor, two-factor and one-factor models. Thus the study established burnout as a
In the case of the UWES a two-factor model of work engagement, consisting of vigour and
dedication fined the data best as compared to a three-factor or one-factor model. This means
that the UWES is a two-dimensional construct and not a three-factor nor a one-factor dimensional construct. The scales of the MBI-GS, UWES, and the ASSET subscales of work
relationships, work life balance, overload, job security, control, resources/communication.
aspects of the job, and the stress outcomes of organisational commitment, individual
commitment physical health and psychological (un)well-being showed acceptable internal
consistencies. There existed no statistically significant differences between burnout, work
engagement. the stress dimensions, commitment and ill health respectively and any of the
The study found that psychological (un)well-being, is a major stress outcome for the civil
servants followed by physical (un)health, respectively. It was discovered that the civil
servants generally have low levels of stress, and security was the lowest stressor. Employee
commitment was also found to be high. Stress, due to lack of resources, predicted physical ill
health and explained 21% of the variance of ill health among the sample of civil servants.
Stress relating to aspects of the job and security, predicted psychological ill health and
explained 31% of the variance in psychological ill health. Issues relating to control on the job
and security predicted organisational and individual commitment respectively and further
explained 28% and 20% of organisational commitment and individual commitment. Stress
due to lack of job resources, security and aspects of [he job seem to be the most important
Another objective of the study was to find out if energy and identification with work could be
predicted from job demands and job resources respectively. It was found that job demands
and lack of job resources lead to ill health through burnout, and job resources could lead to
commitment via engagement. The implications are that employees who experience excessive
workload are likely to experience burnout, which in turn leads to health related problems.
Continuous availability of job resources would lead to work engagement, which in turn leads
to organisational commitment, while lack of it would lead to burnout.
Recommendations for further research were accordingly made.