The relationship between wellbeing and academic staff performance at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Nene, Xolile Nomzamo.
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This study intend to explore the correlation among wellbeing and academic staff performance in the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Universities are faced with the responsibility of formulating new knowledge or adding to the body of knowledge through publication of research work. Academic staff have three fundamental roles they are expected to perform and these are teaching, conducting research, offering administration support and community development service. Academic performance at the university is evaluated by looking at the extent to which the institution was able to achieve its academic goal based on these fundamental roles performed by academic staff (Bakker & Derks, 2010). The wellbeing of academic staff at universities has been threatened by high levels of stress and burnout due to their demanding occupation. However, there is an attraction of others to join the profession due to its advantages such as having autonomy with academic work, high level of flexibility at work, overseas trip to study and the ability to learn from others by attending conferences (Barkhuizen & Rothmann, 2008). Researchers such as Barkhuizen and Rothman (2008) has found that high level of stress and burnout is common among academic staff and this could be as a result of working under pressure. Stress and burnout can trigger other health problems such as an increase in smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and other physical health issues such as heart diseases and psychological problems (Barkhuizen & Rothmann, 2008). The wellbeing and performance of academic staff is the subject that has been looked at by various scholars. The researcher has discovered that numorous of these studies have been conducted in western universities, therefore, this study addressed this gap based on the cultural context these wellbeing studies were conducted. The researcher identified that there is a lack of research that tends to look at wellbeing and performance among academic staff in South African universities. This study examined five objectives, and these are; the influence of physical, mental, psychological and social wellbeing on academic staff performance. It also looked at the effectiveness of wellbeing programs in promoting academic staff performance as the last objective. The mixed method approach was considered as the suitable research method to be applied in this research. The mixed method approach is the combination of both quantitative and qualitative research methodology into one research project. The main reason of mixing quantitative research and qualitative research in one research project is to gain the unique strength of each methodological approach and apply them in a research project. The University of KwaZulu-Natal has five different campus but the researcher only used two campuses that are more convenient for the data to be collected. The researcher used the systematic sampling method to select the participantsi of the research study when collecting the quantitative data. Self-designed research questionnaires were distributed among the participants that were chosen and the researcher used SPSS version 24 to analyse the data. The interpretation of the results were done using both descriptive (i.e. mean, minimum, maximum and standard deviation) and inferential statistics. The results were presented in accordance with the stated objectives, namely: physical needs; mental wellbeing; psychological wellbeing; social wellbeing; wellbeing programmes and employee wellbeing and performance. The purposive sampling method was the method that was used by the researcher to select participants who will participate in the qualitative study. Interviews were conducted among the participants who were selected to participate in the study and the researcher analysed and interpreted the qualitative data herself. The researcher was able to have 6 participants to participate in qualitative research. Interviews were conducted by the researcher and the responses were recorded. Respondents that could not be part of the interview were given the research questionnaires to complete at their own convenient time. The researcher also distributed quantitative questionnaires to 250 academic staff in UKZN at Westville and Howard College and only 200 questionnaires were returned. The overall result of both quantitative and qualitative result indicated a positive state of physical, mental, psychological and social wellbeing among academic staff. The only concern that was stated clearly in both the quantitative and qualitative result is the lack of participation on wellbeing programs by academic staff at the university. The various reasons were stated by the academic staff as to why they do not participate in these wellbeing programs offered by the university and they are discussed in the qualitative study.