Job characteristics, work–nonwork interference and the role of recovery strategies among employees in a tertiary institution
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The tertiary education environment has become known for its stressful working conditions. Factors such as high work demands (i.e. work overload, excessive time demands and work pressure) and insufficient resources (i.e. limited developmental possibilities, poor performance feedback, lack of support, etc.) all contribute to these stressful circumstances. As a result, these circumstances can cause employees to experience negative interferences between their work and nonwork roles. In addition, employees do not have adequate time to invest in their nonwork domains, hence nonwork roles are neglected (such as being a parent, being a spouse, spending time on domestic activities and spending time on religious/spiritual activities). To decrease these negative interferences, it is important for employees to recover from strains that were activated at work. The objectives of this study were to determine 1) which demands and resources significantly predicted work-nonwork interference among employees working in a tertiary education institution; and 2) which recovery strategies were significant in dealing with high levels of work-nonwork interference caused by high demands and a lack of resources. A random sample of 366 married parents was taken from a tertiary education institution in the North-West Province. A list was obtained of all the married parents of the institution. All of these employees were given the choice to participate in the research. A measuring battery measuring job demands (i.e. work pressure, emotional demands and cognitive demands), job resources (i.e. autonomy, social support and developmental possibilities), work-nonwork interference (i.e. work-parent, work-spouse, work-domestic and work-religion/spirituality) and recovery strategies (psychological detachment, relaxation, mastery and control) respectively was utilised in this study. Descriptive and inferential statistics, Cronbach alpha coefficients, Pearson product-moment correlations and stepwise multiple regression, using the enter method, were used to analyse the data. The results indicate that work pressure and emotional demands significantly predict interference between all four nonwork roles. Additionally, autonomy and developmental possibilities significantly predicted work-parent and work-religion/spirituality interference respectively. Furthermore, all of the recovery strategies decreased specific worknonwork interference. Psychological detachment decreased the interference between the workspouse relationship and the work-religion/spirituality relationship. Relaxation predicted the decrease of interference between the following relationships: work-parent, work-spouse, and work-domestic. Mastery and control only significantly predicted the decrease of interference between the work-parent relationship and between the work-domestic activities respectively. Various recommendations were made for tertiary education institutions as well as for future research. Tertiary education institutions should manage high job demands by examining employees’ workload and job descriptions. Managers could possibly diminish work pressure and emotional demands by means of courses/workshops pertaining to self-management, time and organisational skills, emotional intelligence and/or coping with emotions. Tertiary education institutions should also focus on supporting employees who experience work-nonwork interferences and manage it effectively. In addition, the awareness of recovery and various recovery strategies should be promoted. Recommendations for future research include expanding the research to other occupational groups, longitudinal research designs, obtaining various opinions and perspectives of individuals also involved in the work-nonwork dyad and the study of the positive interaction between the work and nonwork roles.