No Time to Talk! Teachers' Perceptions of Organizational Communication and Work-related Health

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

Abstract

During recent years, schoolteachers in Sweden have experienced many reforms and societal changes, resulting in altered conditions for work. Subsequently, many teachers have reported an increased workload and reduced well-being. In addition, previous research has identified a need for more contextually anchored measures of demands and resources pertaining to teachers’ work situation.
This dissertation, based on two studies generating three papers, aims to investigate primary and lower secondary school teachers’ perceptions of organizational communication and work-related health. A need for more contextually anchored research on teachers’ worklife, in relation to organizational communication and in combination with other salient demands and resources is the theoretical and empirical starting point for the present research.

Paper I is based on results from an explorative study using focus group methodology. In this study, workplace communication practices among schoolteachers were examined. A total of 44 participants (11 men, 33 women), were divided into five groups, each meeting twice. The qualitative study design was supplemented with two questionnaires, identifying demographic variables and group climate. Several problemareas regarding especially structure and time aspects of organizational communication were found. One noteworthy observation was the many idiosyncratic ways teachers handled daily challenges.
In order to counter this, there is among other things an apparent need for support structures for organizational communication, such as communication platforms and meeting structures. The observed problems with deficient and weak communication may in the long-run negatively influence teachers’ work sustainability. These results speak directly to the relevance of organizational communication processes as they occur between teachers today. Paper II and III are based on results (N = 401) from a cross-sectional survey
administered to all primary and lower secondary school teachers in two municipalities in southern Sweden. Central to the study was the use of contextually anchored organizational communication measures, partially developed from study I.

Paper II reports on teachers’ perception of time for communication with colleagues, structures for communicative interactions in the school, the workplace communication climate, and collegial communication. Furthermore, this paper explores to what extent organizational communication in schools is associated with salient work environment indicators (quantitative demands, physical work environment, and role clarity), and to what extent organizational communication predicts job satisfaction above and beyond
the work environment indicators. Utilizing the Job Demands-Resources model as a framework, it was found that, along with the work environment related constructs, teachers’ perceptions of organizational communication act as predictors for job satisfaction (in total, 49.2% of the variance in job satisfaction is explained). Time for communication and collegial communication
were the relatively stronger predictors for job satisfaction.

Paper III reports on teacher work-related health and working conditions. In
addition, the associations and proportional contributions of salient work-related
constructs for health-related outcomes were examined. The results show that 40.2% of the teachers are at risk for depression. A worrying 43.8% of the teachers in this study qualify as leading a sedentary life-style, and 33.7% reported insufficient recovery from work. The results further indicate that separation between work and spare time as well as recovery from work partially mediate the association between job satisfaction and the outcome variables, well-being and health complaints as explored in two separate models. These results confirm recent national research pointing to the teaching profession as a vulnerable occupational group. The results from the present dissertation add to previous findings on teachers’ work situation, using contextually anchored demands and resources. The results further suggest that the Job Demands-Resources model can be extended by including organizational communication as one important aspect of organizationally centered constructs. Of practical relevance are results indicative of problems with teachers finding time to interact with colleagues, the possibility to recover from work, and insufficient separation between work and spare time. The studies have not received any external funding.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology

Keywords

  • Job demands-resources model, organizational communication, organizational psychology, recovery, self-rated health, Sweden, teachers, time, well-being, WHO-5
Translated title of the contributionIngen tid till samtal!: Lärares uppfattningar om organisatorisk kommunikation och arbetsrelaterad hälsa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2018 May 3
Place of PublicationLund
Print ISBNs978-91-7753-569-0
Electronic ISBNs978-91-7753-570-6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2018-05-03 Time: 13:00 Place: Kulturen aula, Tegnérsplatsen, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Hakanen, Jari Title: Professor Affiliation: University of Helsinki

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