Effort–reward imbalance and overcommitment in UK academics: implications for mental health, satisfaction and retention

Kinman, G. (2016). "Effort–reward imbalance and overcommitment in UK academics: implications for mental health, satisfaction and retention." Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 38(5): 504-518.

This study utilises the effort–reward imbalance (ERI) model of job stress to predict several indices of well-being in academics in the UK: mental ill health, job satisfaction and leaving intentions. This model posits that (a) employees who believe that their efforts are not counterbalanced by sufficient rewards will experience impaired well-being and (b) feelings of ERI are more frequent and damaging in employees who are overcommitted to the job. A sample of 649 academic employees working in UK higher education institutions completed validated measures. Findings showed that academics who found their work more demanding, who perceived greater rewards and who were less overcommitted typically reported poorer well-being across all measures. Rewards related to esteem/support and financial/status appeared to be particularly important in protecting academics from the negative impact of work-related efforts. Potential interventions are discussed that draw on the ERI framework to improve mental health, satisfaction and retention in the sector.

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