Workload, work-family conflict, emotional exhaustion and turnover intentions among a sample of Victorian teachers

Year: 2018

Author: Rajendran, Natalia, Richardson, Paul, Watt, Helen, O'Donovan, Richard

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

An estimated 30% to 40% of teachers in Australia leave the profession within their first 5 years (Paris, 2010). A contributing factor to this level of attrition may be the unmanageable workload teachers’ endure, a job demand associated with emotional exhaustion which has been linked to the high teacher attrition rates worldwide. The workload associated with work tasks such as marking, lesson preparation, administration and arranging extra-curriculum activities, may negatively impact teachers’ family life and cause additional stress.
This work-home interference or work-family conflict is experienced when the general demands of time devoted to and strain created by the job interferes with family-related roles and responsibilities. Evidence indicates that work-home interference is associated with work outcomes, such as organisational commitment, job satisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, and stress reactions (e.g. Greenhaus et al., 1997; Kossek & Ozeki, 1998; Netemeyer et al., 1996).
The current study investigates teacher attrition through the lens of the Job Demands-Resources (Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001) theoretical perspective. Based on previous studies, it was expected that work-family conflict would be positively associated with teachers’ workload, which in turn would increase their level of emotional exhaustion; and that emotional exhaustion would mediate the relationship between both workload and turnover intention and work-family conflict and turnover intention.
702 currently working primary (n = 336) and secondary (n = 336) Victorian school teachers, completed an online survey assessing workload, work-family conflict, emotional exhaustion and turnover intentions. Results from structural equation modelling revealed that levels of workload, work-family conflict, and emotional exhaustion were high and that there were strong significant positive associations among all these measures. Although both workload and work-family conflict were strongly associated with emotional exhaustion, work-family conflict had a stronger association; suggesting it was the stronger predictor of emotional exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion had a strong, positive relationship with teachers’ turnover intention. Further, emotional exhaustion fully mediated the relationship between both workload and turnover intention, and work-family conflict and turnover intention. These preliminary results suggest that the JDR model is a promising theory for use in explaining job-related negative outcomes among Australian teachers.