Original Research

Examining staff burnout during the transition to teaching online due to COVID-19 implications

Angelo Fynn, Hugo D. van der Walt
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 21 | a2062 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v21i0.2062 | © 2023 Angelo Fynn, Hugo D. van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 August 2022 | Published: 06 February 2023

About the author(s)

Angelo Fynn, Department of Institutional Research and Business Intelligence, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Hugo D. van der Walt, Institute for Open and Distance Learning, College of Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: COVID-19 generated the need for changes in the higher education sector, sparking a shift to online approaches ultimately increasing workload. This study assessed the prevalence of burnout symptoms among academics at an online university in South Africa.

Research purpose: Assessing prevalence and severity of burnout symptoms among academics and its impact on work engagement.

Motivation for research: Academics are central to the teaching and learning processes at higher education institutions. Health and wellness has an impact on institutional functionality. As academic workloads increase, so does the likelihood of burnout, which can influence academic functioning.

Research approach/design and method: Cross-sectional design.

Main Findings: High levels of burnout within open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) academic staff member population is evident with 75% of staff experiencing high or very high burnout. High levels of burnout were concentrated among senior lecturers, with teaching experience and have at least a PhD. The regression coefficient for work engagement (B = –0.364, p ≤ 0.001) indicated that for each point increase in work engagement, there was a decrease in burnout of 0.364.

Practical implications: High levels of burnout include job dissatisfaction, reduced quality of work, and increased absenteeism. Addressing burnout contributes to retaining experienced staff, improved job satisfaction and quality output. This paper highlights the impact of teaching transitions on the academic workforce, contributing towards wellness interventions aiding burnout recovery.

Contribution/value-add: This paper highlights the impact of teaching transitions on the academic workforce within South Africa, contributing towards wellness interventions aiding the recovery from burnout.


Keywords

Academic burnout; academic workload; burnout assessment test; burnout; COVID-19 teaching transitions; emergency remote teaching; job engagement; Utrecht Work Engagement Scale

JEL Codes

I23: Higher Education • Research Institutions

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Metrics

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Total article views: 2289


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