The nature and impact of psychological violence on staff member's health in FET colleges : strategies for prevention and support
Meyer, Helena Willmé.
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Psychological violence is currently emerging as a priority concern in all workplaces owing to its serious negative consequences on 'victims' health. This study, using a cross–sectional mixed–methodology, investigates the nature and impact of psychological violence on staff members' health at FET Colleges and how they cope with it. Based on the findings, preventative and supportive strategies are proposed to address and ameliorate staff members' experiences of psychological violence and the impact thereof on all contexts of their health. Two instruments were used to collect quantitative data, namely a Psychological Violence Scale that has been developed, and a Symptom Checklist. These instruments were distributed simultaneously to the study population of 262 academic and administration staff members at FET Colleges. Purposive sampling was used and the sample size of 174 respondents returned the completed instruments. Twenty–nine respondents indicated their willingness to be individually interviewed for the qualitative part of the study. Quantitative findings indicated that psychological violence is prevalent in FET Colleges, which is experienced severely and originates mostly from superiors. The most prevalent and severe forms of psychological violence experienced by staff members include: excessive pressure to produce more work; being given unreasonable deadlines; being exposed to unmanageable workload; more tasks assigned to one as opposed to other staff members at similar post levels and complaints that fall on deaf ears. The most prevalent and severe experiences of staff members as determined by factor analysis include: unfair demands and lack of recognition, work excessively monitored, dysfunctional corporate communication and autocracy and intimidation. The respondents experienced new health symptoms emerging since the onset of psychological violence, namely: feeling chronically fatigued/tired, loss of concentration, disrupted sleep, feeling edgy, irritable, easily startled, constantly on guard, panic, stress headaches, depression and thinking about being violent toward others. Qualitative findings indicated that participants experienced managerial abuse as dysfunctional corporate communication, abusive verbal and non–verbal communication, dysfunctional conduct, disengagement, structural violence, dysfunctional management and unfair demands. Abuse experienced from the Department of Education includes; excessive pressure, intimidation, poor planning and the ineffective implementation of the new curriculum. Colleagues of equal status abused by means of inappropriate conduct, students abused through dysfunctional conduct and subordinates abused through disengagement. Psychological violence impacted negatively on the psychological, biophysical, spiritual, ecological and metaphysical health contexts of staff members. Witnesses to psychological violence (secondary psychological violence) were perceived as conforming to avoid bullying owing to fear of becoming the next target. Findings from both datasets confirmed that staff members at FET Colleges experience psychological violence in various forms in that it has an impact on their health and that they have limited strategies with which to cope. Based on the findings, a number of preventative and supportive strategies are recommended on national, organisational, leadership, group, interpersonal and individual levels to address psychological violence at FET Colleges and to ameliorate its impact on staff members' health. This study contributes significantly towards the psychological violence literature in general and in particular, FET Colleges. The innovative multi–level preventative and supportive strategies forthcoming from this study are imperative to address psychological violence in workplaces and to ameliorate its impact on staff members' health.
- Education