Burnout, work engagement and sense of coherence in female academics in higher-education institutions in South Africa

Adéle Bezuidenhout, Frans V.N. Cilliers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Orientation: Female academics in higher-education institutions face numerous challenges in the continuously changing landscape of South African higher education. Mergers, increasing job demands, ever-increasing class sizes and role conflict inherent in the female role contribute extensively to the manifestation of stress and burnout in this population group.
    Research purpose: This research was conducted from a salutogenic paradigm, seeking to find ways of avoiding the negative consequences of burnout and contributing towards the positive experience of work engagement for the female academic. The research also explored the effect of the individual academic’s sense of coherence (SOC) on her experience of burnout and work engagement.
    Research design, approach and method: The research was quantitative in nature. A psychometric instrument was sent to all the permanently employed female academics at Unisa and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), measuring their levels of burnout, work engagement and SOC. The completed questionnaires were statistically analysed.
    Main findings: The findings included average levels of burnout, with definite signs that the experience of burnout is on the increase. The cynicism sub-dimension of burnout showed increased levels, work engagement scores were just above average and SOC scores were low.
    Practical/managerial implications: This article offers a psychological interpretation of the variables in the target group. The article contributes towards the body of research studies conducted from a positive psychological paradigm and, specifically, on the female gender.
    Contribution/value-add: The main recommendations are that university management needs to take cognisance of the alarming symptoms of burnout present in the population under discussion. Strategies are recommended to address these and to nurture work engagement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number872
    Number of pages10
    JournalSA Journal of Industrial Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2010


    Dive into the research topics of 'Burnout, work engagement and sense of coherence in female academics in higher-education institutions in South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this