Original Research

‘We are the forgotten ones’: Occupational stress among university secretaries in Botswana

Ilse E. Plattner, Diana S. Mberengwa
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 8, No 1 | a213 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v8i1.213 | © 2010 Ilse E. Plattner, Diana S. Mberengwa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 May 2009 | Published: 26 October 2010

About the author(s)

Ilse E. Plattner, University of Botswana, Botswana
Diana S. Mberengwa, University of Botswana, Botswana


Orientation: Secretaries play an essential role in any work organisation, but their contributions and support in the daily management activities are not always recognised.

Research purpose: There is little research on occupational stress among secretaries. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate work-related stressors in the secretarial profession and their association with psychosomatic complaints.

Motivations for study: Considering the lack of research on secretaries, it was the objective of this study to investigate occupational stressors in the secretarial profession and their association with psycho-physiological wellbeing.

Research design, approach and method: Sixty-four secretaries at the University of Botswana participated in the study (response rate: 43.8%). Data were gathered through a self-administered questionnaire. Correlational analyses were performed using Spearman’s rho.

Main findings: Seventeen potential stressors were identified, referring to lack of job clarity, performing work outside one’s job description, reduced competencies, supervisors who perform secretarial work, sharing resources such as an office or a telephone, lack of recognition and limited opportunities for promotion. Most stressors correlated significantly with one or more psychosomatic complaints.

Practical/managerial implications: Additional research would be necessary to compare various work contexts and organisation-specific work environments and to investigate their relevance to occupational stress and health among secretaries.

Contribution/value-add: The results of the study could be of use for human resource managers, as well as for supervisors of secretaries, in order to minimise potential stressors that could negatively affect the health of secretaries.


human resource management; organisational psychology; psycho-physiological wellbeing; secretarial profession; stress management


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Crossref Citations

1. Mental health research in Botswana: a semi-systematic scoping review
Philip R. Opondo, Anthony A. Olashore, Keneilwe Molebatsi, Caleb J. Othieno, James O. Ayugi
Journal of International Medical Research  vol: 48  issue: 10  first page: 030006052096645  year: 2020  
doi: 10.1177/0300060520966458