Original Research

Burnout, employee engagement and self-perceived employability in the South African public sector

Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Claude-Hélène Mayer, Ntombifuthi J. Zwane
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 19 | a1340 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v19i0.1340 | © 2021 Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Claude-Hélène Mayer, Ntombifuthi J. Zwane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2020 | Published: 12 May 2021

About the author(s)

Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Claude-Hélène Mayer, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Ntombifuthi J. Zwane, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The employee engagement (EE) approach has been utilised to combat burnout (BO) in both private and public sector institutions. With increasing research, self-perceived employability (SPE) is gaining popularity as an effective tool for reducing BO. Knowledge of the relationship between these three constructs is therefore important for public sector institutions and researchers in Industrial and Organisational (I/O) Psychology and human resource management (HRM) in South Africa.

Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between BO, EE and SPE amongst employees in South Africa’s public sector.

Motivation for the study: Numerous studies have highlighted the prevalence of poor service delivery in public sector institutions in connection with BO and highlighted a decrease in BO through EE and SPE. However, the relationship between these three constructs is still quite unknown. The study’s results will fill the void of research in this area and can be applied in I/O Psychology and HR practices.

Research design, approach and method: This quantitative study involved a non-probability sample of 158 South African public sector employees. Correlational and descriptive statistical analyses were used to analyse the data.

Main results: Burnout has a significant negative relationship with EE; however, BO does not significantly correlate with SPE. There are significant differences between the various biographical groups and BO, EE and SPE.

Practical/managerial implications: Approaches to reducing BO amongst employees should consider EE and SPE as effective tools to enhance employees’ wellness, morale and improved service delivery.

Contribution/value-add: Improving the EE levels and enhancing SPE will improve the well-being of employees in public sector institutions and help alleviate employee BO.


Keywords

burnout; employee engagement; self-perceived employability; public sector; non-human services sector

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