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Burnout and work engagement of employees in an insurance company
Coetzer, Wilhelmina Johanna
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Continuous changes along with the increased pressure to perform may result in feelings of distrust, strain in interpersonal relations, psychological strain, fatigue and tension, all affecting the well-being of employees. Tracking and addressing the effectiveness of employees in the work context in areas that could impact on the standard of their services is important. Burnout and work engagement are specific focus areas in this regard. To measure burnout and work engagement, it is important to use reliable and valid instruments. However, there is a lack of empirical research systematically investigating burnout and work engagement in South Africa, as well as serious limitations, including poorly designed studies, a lack of sophisticated statistical analyses and poorly controlled studies. Furthermore, South Africa is a multicultural society and therefore, when burnout and work engagement measures are applied to different cultural groups, issues of equivalence become important. The objectives of this study were to standardise the MBI-GS and UWES for employees in an insurance company and to determine equivalence for each instrument, to determine the occupational stressors experienced and demographic differences in terms of the experience of occupational stressors and to test a causal model of work wellness consisting of burnout, work engagement, job demands, job resources, health, optimism and intention to leave. 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 availability sample (N = 613) from employees in an insurance company was taken. The Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey (MBI-GS), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES), Life Orientation Test - Revised (LOT-R), An Organisational Stress Screening Tool (ASSET), Job Characteristics Scale (JCS) and a biographical questionnaire were administered. The statistical analysis was carried out with the help of the SAS program and AMOS. The statistical methods utilised in the three articles consisted of descriptive statistics, Cronbach alpha coefficients, inter-item correlations, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients and structural equation modelling methods. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was also utilised to determine differences between the subgroups of the sample. Structural equation modelling confirmed a three-factor model of burnout, consisting of exhaustion, cynicism and professional efficacy. The three-factor model of work engagement represented the data quite well after certain items had been replaced due to semantic differences. The MBI-GS and UWES both showed acceptable internal consistencies. Construct equivalence for different language groups were confumed for the MBI-GS and UWES. The continuous exposure to things like change, competitiveness and rivalry may result in feelings of stress. Stress may have a negative impact on the health and well-being of individuals. Physical and psychological ill health was found to be the major outcome of stress for employees. Commitment moderated the effect of occupational stress on ill health. Specific occupational stressors indicated in an insurance company had to do with performance management, job characteristics, redundancy of skills and remuneration. Biographical factors (i.e. department, level, years' experience) had an impact on the experience of occupational stressors. A one-factor, four-factor and three-factor wellness model was tested. The three-factor model, comprising exhaustion and cynicism loading on burnout and a combined work engagement (vigour and dedication) dimension, provided the best fit with the data. The causal model of work wellness provides support for the COBE model, assuming job demands and job resources. A lack of job resources increases the levels of burnout of employees, as well as the intention to leave the organisation. The availability of job resources increases the levels of work engagement. Employees who experience excessive workloads are likely to develop high levels of burnout which, in turn, may lead to health problems. Recommendations for future research were made.