About the Author(s)


Jyoti Bhadana Email symbol
Amity College of Commerce and Finance, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh (AUUP), India

Neelam Saxena symbol
Amity Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh (AUUP), India.

Archana Bhatia symbol
Department of Commerce, D.A.V Centenary College, Faridabad, Haryana, India

Citation


Bhadana, J., Saxena, N., & Bhatia, A. (2022). Uttar Pradesh academics’ occupational stress, organisational work environment and work-life balance: A quantitative study. SA Journal of Human Resource Management/SA Tydskrif vir Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 20(0), a1639. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v20i0.1639

Original Research

Uttar Pradesh academics’ occupational stress, organisational work environment and work-life balance: A quantitative study

Jyoti Bhadana, Neelam Saxena, Archana Bhatia

Received: 15 Apr. 2021; Accepted: 01 Feb. 2022; Published: 03 June 2022

Copyright: © 2022. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Orientation: In today’s fast-paced workplace, the notion of work-life balance is becoming increasingly relevant. Work-life balance has emerged as a critical area of human resource management, attracting the attention of government, researchers, and professionals in search of innovative ways to boost employee morale, retain employees, and provide employers with tools to help them achieve a better work-life balance. Employees’ emotional and physical health’s are both affected by an unhealthy work environment. Stress was viewed as a sign of weakness in many businesses.

Research purpose: This study investigates the mediating effect of occupational stress on the relationship between work-life balance (WLB) and organisational work environment among academics, as well as the moderating effect of demographic variables such as gender, job levels, and marital status of this relationship.

Research approach/design and method: Using a survey method, primary data was collected from academics working in India. A structured questionnaire was drafted and introduced as a method for data collection. Respondents were chosen using a judgemental sampling method. To test the hypothesis, the mediating effect and moderating effect were used, and the statistical regression analysis was done with the help of Professor Andrew’s process macro and partial least squares smart (PLS).

Main findings: The organisational work environment had a significant impact on the WLB of academics employed at higher education institutes in India. When comparing male and female academics, the effect of the organisational work environment on occupational stress was found to be higher for female academics. For academics at various job levels, the impact of the organisational work environment on occupational stress was found to be significant. Marital status had no significant moderating association effect on academics between WLB, occupational stress, and organisational work environment.

Implications: Institutions are encouraged to provide family-friendly policies and create a good work environment for academics that helps decrease the stress level, improve the WLB and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of academics.

Contribution: An investigation into relationships between work-life balance, occupational stress and working environment holds a number of implications in the management of educational set-up. This research might be very useful to school administrators in terms of improving work-life balance and reducing occupational stress among academics, in order to create a work environment that everyone is glad to be a part of. As a result, academic institutions’ organisational efficiency and effectiveness will improve.

Keywords: occupational stress; work-life balance; organisational work environment; academics; India.

Introduction

Occupational stress has been associated with negative physical, emotional, and physiological health effects (Chaplain, 2008; Guglielmi, Simbula, & Depolo, 2009). Academic life is becoming increasingly difficult as academic careers become more strenuous. Stress among academics is dangerous, because it may lead to burnout and mental illness, resulting in inefficient work performance, poor academic success, and a lower quality of life for both staff and students. A country’s success is entirely dependent on the expertise and professionalism of human capital (Dornyei, 2001). The educational system is the backbone for the progress of any country. Scientific and technical advances are heavily reliant on the educational environment, as well as highly motivated and committed academics. Work-life is an important part of everyday life. Teaching is a challenging and stressful job that is related to negative outcomes such as attrition, stress, and job dissatisfaction (Ingersoll, Merrill, & May, 2014). Academics are stressed out due to the demanding job environment. Occupational stress has a negative effect on academics’ physical and emotional health, as well as their work satisfaction (Goddard, O’brien, & Goddard, 2006).

Blix et al. (1994) conveyed that 66% of 400 academics at a university in the United States experienced extreme levels of stress at work. A major percentage of this stress is caused by a scarcity of resources. Workplace stress has a negative impact on the work-life balance (WLB). Work-related stress is related to unfavourable health issues such as cardiovascular problems, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, headaches, asthma, and dizziness (Khan, Shah, Khan, & Gul, 2012).

As more women enter the teaching profession and women work equally outside the home, the education sector has undergone significant changes. In today’s scenario, both couples are working to support financially and both are struggling to balance their private as well as professional lives (Ehrhart, Mayer, & Ziegert, 2012). Women, in comparison to men, are under much stress. Working women in India face a number of challenges in terms of fulfilling their professional duties and advancing their careers. The family system prevents them from starting or continuing their careers and the culture can be a hindrance at times. In India, it is customary for men to be responsible for the family’s financial needs, while women are expected to stay at home and care for the family (Rehman & Roomi, 2012).

Research purpose, objectives, and hypotheses

This article is an effort to identify the mediating impact of occupational stress on the relationship between organisational work environment and WLB among academics. As described earlier in the manuscript, this study examines the moderating effects of selected demographic variables linked to the profiles of the respondents, such as gender, designation, marital status, occupational stress on the relationship between WLB, and organisational work environment among academics. This study examines the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: Occupational stress plays a significant mediating role between the organisation’s work environment and WLB.

Hypothesis 2: Demographic factors, such as gender, designation, and marital status, significantly moderate the mediation impact of occupational stress on the relationship between organisational work environment and WLB.

Literature review
Work-life balance

Work-life balance is described as ‘an employee’s effort towards effectively completing both the work and life responsibilities in such a way that the roles of one domain have no negative impact on the other’. (Parkers & Langford, 2008). According to Sirgy and Lee (2018), satisfaction with work-life is described as ‘a balanced allocation of time and psychological resources in work and non-work life’. Maintaining a WLB is important for working professionals. Failure to strike a WLB has a negative impact on teachers’ effectiveness (Saif, Malik, & Awan, 2010). Job satisfaction has positively influenced WLB and work overload (Virick, Lilly, & Casper, 2007). Job demands have an adverse impact on WLB (Chiang, Birtch, & Kwan, 2010). Hans, Mubeen, Mishra and Al-Badi (2015) examined that the remaining task at hand negatively affects WLB. Long work hours are one of the primary causes of not maintaining the balance between work and life. The study conducted by De Simone, Cicotto and Lampis (2016) discovered that high work-life conflict is related to lower productivity, inefficiency, lack of achievement, retention, commitment, and success, and a high degree of stress. Padmasiri and Mahalekamge (2016) discovered a strong link between marital status, gender, and WLB. They also discovered that married people had a lower degree of WLB than their colleagues.

Occupational stress

Selye (1956) was the first to define stress as a stimulus-response relationship. Since then, it has been described in a variety of ways, and while the terminology varies, the meaning is essentially the same, depending on how people react to stress. Stress is described as the adaptation or variation of organisational effort, flexibility, and employee empowerment, which resulted in changing work requirements and ambiguity. Furthermore, losing employment stability increases the possibility of job role stress (Cooper & Dewe, 2004). Several studies have found that university employees are highly stressed (Tai, Ng, & Lim, 2019). Skaalvik and Skaalvik (2011) found that teachers are experiencing occupational stress because of increasing paperwork, more frequent meetings and phone calls, progressively changing visit arrangements with guardians, and investment in several school improvement works. Major et al. (2002) discovered that more extended hours of work (e.g. work-life irregularity) causes gloom and stress. The investigation by Kinman and Jones (2003) has corroborated this result, and found that working an extra hour is likely to result in anxiety, depression, and coronary heart disease. Hasan and Azad (2014) examined that non-government teachers were profoundly stressed in contrast with government teachers. According to Jeyaraj (2013), private school teachers have a higher level of tension at work and lower levels of happiness than government school teachers. Weber and Cummings (2003) researchers have explored the negative connection between work-family struggle and diverse occupational results.

Kieschke and Schaarschmidt (2008) stated that every year, approximately 41% of teachers quit their job because of increasing workloads. Bell, Rajendran and Theiler (2012) found that the main occupational stress among academicians is time pressure, poor workplace, regulatory issues, understudied conduct, and changes in the instructive framework. Dickson-Swift et al. (2009) examined that institution conditions such as large and mixed classes, lack of healthy relationships among peer workers and inadequate salaries are the main reasons for increasing occupational stress in teaching profession. Kong, Yang, Zhang, Wang, and Feng (2020) demonstrated that work stress and job satisfaction are partially mediated by life quality. Enhancing one’s quality of life can help boost job satisfaction and reduce workplace stress.

Organisational work-environment

Work environment is defined as a setting that exists specifically for the purpose of performing a task. The work environment is the setting in which academics carry out their duties in an organisation. A pleasant and congenial work atmosphere can aid in the orderly and faultless completion of duties. Workload has a significant positive impact on stress. Work environment has a significant positive impact on performance. In a boring work environment, workers will be less active in their actions, perhaps leading to higher job-related stress. Putra, Gede and Darmaputra (2020), Desa, Khoon and Asaari (2018) and Manaf, Matin and Zulaikha (2019) discovered a strong negative correlation between work environment and work-related stress. If the organisation’s work environment is favourable or enjoyable, it will give good support to workers at work (Hartinah et al., 2020). The workplace stands out as a potentially significant source of stress due to the time spent in this environment (Erkutlu & Chafra, 2006). Job stress is typically characterised as an employee’s feelings of job-related hardness, tension, anxiety, annoyance, concern, emotional weariness, and discomfort (Armstrong & Griffin, 2004). Ratnawati and Amri (2013) discovered that an employee’s perception of the work environment has an impact on their job behaviour in the workplace. The work environment includes not just physical but also a non-physical work environment, such as the manager’s leadership.

While both directions of interference are essential, the work-to-non-work route is more prevalent. Changes in the labour force and family composition have made it more difficult for many working people to balance job and family life (Winslow 2005). The majority of people say work interferes with their personal and social lives. Work-family conflict (WFC) is usually characterised as ‘a type of inter-role conflict in which the role constraints from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some way’. (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). The bidirectional perspective of WFC is explicitly depicted in the definition of WFC, which distinguishes between work interfering with family and family interfering with work. In many industries, the lines between ‘work’ and ‘non-work’ have become increasingly blurred, and time and energy for personal life and leisure may be lost as a result of constant work pressure. Magadley (2021), examined Work-family conflict from a gender perspective among academics. Academics, both male and female, face work-family conflict, but women face it more severely due to the persistence of traditional gender norms in society. WFC was found to have harmful consequences on both men and women, although there are still gender inequalities, with women suffering the brunt of the load. Both men and women use comparable ways to deal with WFC. (Wilton & Ross, 2017). (Wilton & Ross, 2017). Work-family conflict and family-work conflict (FWC) were first conceptualised as bidirectional in nature, with work causing conflict with family and family causing conflict with work (Allen, Herst, Bruck, & Sutton, 2000). Is work interfering with your personal life? We discovered that the majority of people say work interferes with their home and leisure time (Schieman, Glavin, & Milkie, 2009).

Consistent with Netemeyer, Boles and McMurrian (1996), WFC and FWC are separate but related kinds of inter-role conflict. Family and work realms are incompatible, and the responsibilities of one position make the other difficult or impossible to perform (Mansour & Tremblay, 2018). Work-family conflict and FWC are not mutually exclusive; the existence of one does not imply the presence or absence of the other (Aryee, Srinivas, & Tan, 2005; Lu, Ocola, & Chen, 2009).

The two primary elements of everyone’s life are their family and their job. All organisations are concerned with maintaining and sustaining the equilibrium between them. However, it is worth noting that the literature focuses mostly on WFC, with little attention paid to FWC (Powell, 2018; Wayne, Butts, Casper, & Allen, 2017). Dankova and Ahmethodzic (2021) revealed that academics’ jobs take up a significant portion of their lives; as a result, their perspective on WLB is unique, with them frequently choosing work above personal life. Researcher focused on how work impacts the family, rather than taking into account how work affects the family (Crouter 1984). An institution should set policies and promote a positive work environment for academics to reduce stress, improve WLB, and enhance academic efficiency and effectiveness.

Research gap

Numerous studies in various professions, organisations, and sectors have looked into occupational stress, WLB, and the organisational work environment individually. To our knowledge, no other academic studies on the mediating effect of occupational stress on the relationship between WLB, and the organisational work environment in the Indian context have been conducted (Ren & Caudle, 2020). The following research examined together occupational stress, WLB, and working environment among academics, for testing the hypothesis. In this research, we investigated the function of various demographic factors such as gender, marital status, and job levels. The number of scientific papers published in this field is still low. Because of these reasons, this topic has been exposed as an area of research gap, and that became our focus for further research. In several jobs, elevated levels of stress are related to a loss of WLB (Wallace, 2005; Wong & Lin, 2007).

Research methodology

Population and sampling

For this study, the population consisted of different universities (N = 950) located in Uttar Pradesh, India. A judgmental sampling method was used to select academics from the various universities in Uttar Pradesh. The standard structured questionnaires were distributed personally and through e-mail to 950 respondents. A total of 389 respondents completed the survey online.

Data collection

Using a survey method, primary data was collected from university academics working in India. To design the Google Forms questionnaire based on the study’s needs, certain items were borrowed from the following three questionnaires:

  • Eighteen items on WLB were taken from Banu (2014) questionnaire.
  • Twenty-eight items on occupational stress were taken from Gmelch and Burns (1994) questionnaire.
  • Ten items on the work environment were taken from the (Moos, 1994) questionnaire.

The standard structured questionnaires on occupational stress, WLB, and organisational work environment were used for the study as a data collection tool. The occupational stress questionnaire contained 18 items on a 7-point scale with five factors, while the WLB questionnaire had 28 items on a 7-point scale with four factors and the organisational work environment questionnaire had 10 items on a 7-point scale with 10 factors. The questionnaires were distributed to the academics to collect the data. The surveys were delivered to the university academics in person and via e-mail. The survey was performed online using Google Forms by the academics. To test the hypothesis, the mediating and moderating effects were applied. The statistical regression analysis was done with the help of Prof. Andrew Hayes’ process macro and Smart PLS.

Ethical considerations

This research is the authors’ original work, and the higher education institution has provided an ethical certificate as partial fulfilment for a postgraduate certification. This is to certify that the research paper submitted is an outcome of her independent and original work. She has duly acknowledged all the sources from which the ideas and extracts have been taken. The respondents willingly agreed to participate in the study. To reduce the risk of a confidentiality breach, the Google Form platform was password protected. To safeguard the privacy of the respondents, their data was de-identified online. The author was responsible for evaluating the proposed research to ensure adequate provisions to protect the privacy of participants and to maintain the confidentiality of data. Individuals may only be willing to share information for research purposes with an understanding that the information will remain protected from disclosure outside of the research setting or from unauthorised persons. The project is free from any plagiarism and has not been submitted elsewhere for publication.

Data analysis and discussion
  1. Mediation test: The mediation test was carried out using the Process Macro developed by Prof. Andrew Hayes. The organisation’s work environment was considered an exogenous variable, occupational stress as a mediating variable, and WLB as an endogenous variable. The mediation test was performed in different stages. It starts by applying the following regression model:

The above equation examines the effect of the organisation’s work environment on occupational stress. This relationship explains the possibility of mediation effects of occupational stress on the relationship between the organisation’s work environment and WLB. Table 2 represents the results of regression analysis applied as in equation 1.

TABLE 1: Summary of past studies.
TABLE 2: Results of regression analysis.

Table 2 represent the significant negative impact of an organisation’s work environment on the occupational stress of the academics working in higher education institutions. The positive responses related to the organisational work environment of the higher educational institutes will help reduce the occupational stress of academics. The f statistics indicate the significant statistical fitness of the regression model. The r square of the model is 0.0727 indicating the percentage of variance in occupational stress that can be explained by the organisation’s work environment. Furthermore, the mediation effect is examined with the help of the following equation:

This equation helps in examining the direct as well as the indirect effect of the organisation’s work environment on the WLB of academics working at higher education institutes in India. The results of equation 2 are shown in Table 3.

TABLE 3: Direct and indirect effects.

Table 3 demonstrates that the organisational work environment and the occupational stress have a significant effect on the WLB of the academics working with higher education institutions in India. The organisational work environment of higher education institutes has a significant positive impact on the WLB of academics. However, occupational stress has been shown to have a substantial impact on the WLB of the academics working in higher education institutions. Positive responses related to the organisational work environment in the higher educational institutes will help to reduce the occupational stress of the academics. The F-statistics indicate the significant statistical fitness of the regression model. The r square of the model is 0.509 showing the percentage of variance in WLB, which is described with the help of the regression model.

Using occupational stress as the mediating variable, the significant direct and indirect effect for the relationship between organisational work environment and WLB confirms the significant mediating role.

Discussion

The moderating effect of gender

The moderating effect of gender (male and female faculty members) in Indian universities on the relationship between WLB, occupational stress, and organisational work environment is examined. The gender of the academics is assumed as a categorical variable in group moderation analysis.

Table 4 represents the direct as well as the indirect effect of the organisation’s work environment on the WLB using occupational stress as the mediating variable.

TABLE 4: Direct and indirect effect of the organisational work environment on the work-life balance using occupational stress as the mediating variable.

The following hypothesis is assumed to be tested in the group moderation effect:

H1: ‘There exists no significant moderating effect of the gender of academics on the relationship between WLB, occupational stress, and organisation work environment’.

Table 5 indicates the significant difference between the male and female academics with respect to the relationship between the organisation’s work environment and occupational stress. The impact of the organisational work environment on occupational stress is found to be higher for female academics as compared to male academics. Female academics are affected by the organisation’s work environment in the opposite way as male academics, which have an insignificant relationship between the organisation’s work environment and occupational stress. Women in India are equipped with various skills, and as a result, they are more affected by an adverse work environment. However, the moderation effect of gender is found to be insignificant on the relationship between occupational stress and WLB and work environment. Table 6 demonstrates the results of the moderation analysis.

TABLE 5: The moderation effect of gender.
TABLE 6: The moderation effect of designation.
Designation

The relationship between WLB, occupational stress, and organisational work environment is investigated using the moderating effect of designation (Assistant professor, Associate Professor, Professor) in Indian universities. The designation of the academics is assumed as a categorical variable in moderation analysis. The following hypothesis is assumed to be tested in the group moderation effect:

H1: ‘There exists no significant moderating effect of the designation of academics on the relationship between WLB, occupational stress, and organisation work environment’.

Table 6 demonstrates the results of the moderation analysis.

In terms of the relationship between the organisation’s work environment and occupational stress, Table 6 shows that there is a significant difference among academics with different designations. The impact of the organisational work environment on occupational stress is found to be significant for academics with a different designation. However, no difference is found concerning the designation of the academics. In the case of the association between occupational stress and WLB, the effect is found to be significant for professors, but insignificant for assistant professors and associate professors. Thus, the impact of occupational stress on WLB was found to be higher in the case of professors. In the case of the impact of organisational work environment on occupational stress, the effect is found to be significant for academics with different designations. However, the impact is found to be the same for all designations.

Marital status

For the relationship between WLB, occupational stress, and organisational work environment, the moderating effect of marital status (unmarried and married) in higher education in Indian universities is investigated. The marital status of academics is assumed as a categorical variable in moderation analysis. The following hypothesis is assumed to be tested in the group moderation effect:

H1: ‘There exists no significant moderating effect of the marital status of academics on the relationship between WLB, occupational stress, and organisation work environment’.

Table 7 demonstrates the results of the moderation analysis.

TABLE 7: The moderation effect of marital status.

Table 7 indicates the significant impact between the different relationships included in the study for the academics with different marital statuses. However, the p-value of t statistics is more than a 5% level of significance. Thus, it can be concluded that there exists no significant moderating effect of the marital status of both married and unmarried academics on the relationship between occupational stress, organisational work environment, and WLB.

Conclusion

Our study examines the mediating effect of occupational stress on the relationship between organisational work environment and WLB, which has not been looked into before in the academic literature. The organisational work environment, as well as occupational stress, has a significant influence on the WLB of the academics within higher education institutes in India. The impact of the work environment be higher for female academics as compared to male academics. Wilton and Ross (2017) revealed that female academics experience more stress compared to male academics. With regard to the effect of occupational stress on WLB, the effect is found to be significant for professors but insignificant for assistant professors and associate professors. The effect of the organisational work environment on occupational stress was found to be significant for academics with different designations. This result is supported by Adebiyi (2013) who found that teaching experience has an impact on stress. Abbas, Roger and Asadullah (2012) revealed that less experienced teachers or teachers who had less than 5 years of experience are more stressed than experienced teachers. Academicians’ marital status has no significant effect on the relationship between WLB, occupational stress, and organisational work environment. This research might be very useful to school administrators in terms of improving work-life balance and reducing occupational stress among academics, in order to create a work environment that everyone is glad to be a part of. As a result, academic institutions’ organisational efficiency and effectiveness will improve.

Limitations and future research

The study’s shortcomings should be addressed first; only quantitative data were obtained. Both qualitative and quantitative data methods could be utilised in future research. Because India is such a large country, it was impossible to cover the full length and width of the country. Data collection was challenging because most academics do not have enough time to respond. Some respondents were so preoccupied with their daily tasks that they were unable to complete the survey. There had to be much follow-up and reminders to receive the responses. As a result, the sample size could not surpass 389. Only teachers from management colleges were surveyed for this study. Different sampling components derived from other fields of higher education may be investigated by future researchers.

Acknowledgements

The researcher would like to thank the participants of this research and the research supervisor for the support and encouragement throughout the study.

Competing interests

The authors have declared that they have no competing interest.

Authors’ contributions

J.B. conceived and planned the experiments and carried out the experiments. N.S and A.B. contributed to sample preparation. J.B. Contributed to the interpretation of the results. J.B. took the lead in writing the manuscript. All authors provided critical feedback and helped shape the research, analysis and manuscript.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data is available upon reasonable request from the corresponding author (J.B.).

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.

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