Moderating job burnout: An examination of work stressors and organizational commitment in a public sector environment
The objective of this research was, first, to examine the relationships between work stressors (task- and role-based work attributes) and organizational commitment. The second objective was to assess the moderating effect of burnout on the relationship between stressors (work attributes) and organizational commitment in a public service setting located in the western Pacific.
Burnout continues to play a significant role in organizational studies. The current and on-going organizational "downsizing" and "rightsizing" means that companies increasingly put pressure on employees to perform (Bragg, 2001). Coupled with many organizational changes, there are enormous amounts of paperwork, telephone interruptions and increase service demands from both management and the clientele they serve (Igodan & Newcomb, 1986). Today's economy and business environment remain extremely competitive. Businesses cannot afford to ignore employee burnout. Maslach and Leiter (1997) noted, "As a result of occupational burnout, millions of dollars are spent on workers compensation, sick leave, employee fraud, errors on the job and deteriorating quality of work" (p. 65) and "burnout comes at a heavy price in terms of financial and productivity loss" (p. 69).
This study addressed research gaps by assessing the relationships between work stressors and organizational commitment in a public sector environment. The variables in this study were measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory-GS Scale (1995); Perceived Workload Scale, (1988); Organizational Commitment Scale (1993) and Role Conflict and Ambiguity (1970). These scales measured the constructs of burnout, perceived workload, affective and normative commitment, role conflict and role ambiguity, respectively.
Correlation and multiple regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses. The three stress based factors (work overload, role conflict and role ambiguity) were positively but weakly related to organizational commitment. This means that employees can be overloaded with work, have role conflict and ambiguity and yet they are not negatively related to organizational commitment. Interestingly, these findings appear contrary to previous studies by Maslach and Leiter and by Moore and Kahn; typically, work stressors are negatively related to organizational commitment. Although the results did not support all aspects of the research model, a possible explanation for this finding is that the current threat of privatization, in Guam, serves as a buffer against those work stressors and organizational commitment. The study also found that burnout did not moderate the effect of work stressors on organizational commitment. Areas for future research include (1) replicating this study on another public entity not undergoing "privatization"; (2) if privatization does serve as a buffer to work stress factors, determine how long and what point will this buffer actually last; (3) conduct a longitudinal study of the employees during the stages of the privatization process i.e. pre, during and post phases).
0624: Occupational psychology