Well-being of teachers in secondary schools
Schools worldwide are experiencing challenges in terms of ensuring quality education and good retention of its teaching staff. The highly stressful nature of the teaching profession as well as the high demands placed on teachers with the constant changes in curriculum, not enough resources and insufficient support from supervisors, cause secondary school teachers to show high turnover intention rates and high attrition rates which are extremely costly and detrimental to the success of the school. The well-being of the teacher is mostly overlooked within a highly stressful environment where the focus is on results. Demands on schools and teachers are becoming increasingly complex. Teacher issues are discussed on policy agendas as a result of concerns raised by teachers themselves about the future of their profession and whether they are sufficiently rewarded and supported in their work. The morale and motivation of teachers are important for future teacher retention. Teachers are now expected to have much broader roles, taking into account the development of the learner, the handling of teaching processes in the classroom, the focus of the entire school as a “community-in-action” and the relations with the larger community and the world of teaching in general. Thus expectations are higher and demands are more – but the well-being of the teacher does not seem to be a priority within the larger school environment and global teaching picture. Efforts to improve the psychological well-being and optimal functioning of secondary school teachers will affect individual and organizational outcomes. A teacher who functions well is more likely to stay in the profession and will be more motivated than one who is not engaged and demotivated. Investments in the well-being of teachers will lay the basis for positive school outcomes such better retention, better performance and job satisfaction. The aim of this study was to investigate the psychological well-being of a sample of secondary school teachers in North West Province and to determine the antecedents and outcomes thereof. A cross-sectional survey design was used to gather data regarding the well-being of secondary school teachers and its outcomes. A stratified sample (N = 513) was taken of secondary school teachers in North West Province in South Africa. The measuring instruments used were the Supervisor Behaviour Scale, Work-Related Basic Need Satisfaction Scale, Balanced Measure of Psychological Needs, Work Engagement Scale, Turnover Intention Scale, Work-Life Questionnaire, Revised Job Diagnostic Survey, Co-Worker Relations Scale, Work and Meaning Inventory, Personal Resources Scale, Self-Rated Performance Scale, and Positive Practices Questionnaire. The results of study 1 showed that supervisor support (for autonomy, competence, and relatedness) was positively related to employees’ psychological need satisfaction and engagement and negatively related to intention to leave. Supervisor support affected engagement positively and intention to leave negatively via employees’ autonomy satisfaction. The findings suggest that supervisor support and psychological need satisfaction play a significant role in the engagement and retention of employees. The results of study 2 showed that a calling orientation, job design, and co-worker relations explained a large percentage of the variance in experiences of meaningful work. A low calling orientation and poor co-worker relations predicted a moderate percentage of the variance in burnout. A calling orientation, a well-designed job, good co-worker relations, and meaningful work predicted work engagement. Job design was moderately associated with self-ratings of performance. The absence of a calling orientation predicted teachers’ intentions to leave the organisation. The results of study 3 showed that teachers with the highest levels of psychological functioning derived the most meaning from their work. These teachers are renewed by the work they are doing. Positive organizational practices predicted positive outcomes such as meaning, engagement and self-determined behaviour. Psychologically-well and healthy teachers are more likely to focus on the meaningfulness of the work they are doing. It seems that the most important positive practices in the pathway to better psychological well-being at work are those of meaningful work and inspiration.