Principal strain and burnout is a major issue in desperate need of further investigation and solutions. Deepening our understanding of emotional exhaustion, the central dimension of burnout, would greatly further this pursuit. Using a large, longitudinal, representative sample of Australian school principals, the present study decomposed emotional exhaustion into occasion-specific state, enduring autoregressive, and stable trait components using the STARTS (stable trait, autoregressive trait, and state) model. The results showed evidence for variance in all three components, indicating that principals’ emotional exhaustion is approximately evenly split between the enduring autoregressive component and stable trait component, with slightly less variance being observed for the occasion-specific state. Heterogeneity in this profile was mainly associated with individual characteristics of the principals themselves (i.e., experience and gender) rather than characteristics of the job (school sector and level). The results revealed that less experienced and male principals have more malleable (enduring autoregressive and state-like) emotional exhaustion, while more experienced and female principals have more trait-like emotional exhaustion. This emphasizes a likely development of emotional exhaustion from acute to chronic under persistent exposure to burnoutinducing situations, with additional evidence for a possible dispositional tendency toward emotional exhaustion. Thus, measures to tackle emotional exhaustion need to be based on the type of emotional exhaustion the principal is experiencing and ideally include elements that target both the situational/contextual and the individual factors that cause emotional exhaustion in school principals.
Job satisfaction is important for employee well-being and retention, which are both crucial for high strained occupations such as teachers and school principals. We investigated the structure and relationship of teachers’ job satisfaction (N = 142,280) and principals’ job satisfaction (N = 8,869). Results of structural equation modeling using multilevel bi-factor models provide strong evidence for the validity of a model including both specific (satisfaction with the profession versus the working environment) and general job satisfaction factors. This differential conception of job satisfaction was further tested by including the student variables disciplinary climate and student achievement from linked TALIS 2013-PISA 2012 data. Only teacher job satisfaction factors (general and working environment) were related to the disciplinary climate perceived by students, whereas the working environment job satisfaction factor was related to student achievement for both teachers and principals. Controlling for socio-economic status reduced these estimates, but did not change the pattern of results.
School principals world-wide report high levels of strain and attrition resulting in a shortage of qualified principals. It is thus crucial to identify psychosocial risk factors that reflect principals' occupational wellbeing. For this purpose, we used the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ-II), a widely used self-report measure covering multiple psychosocial factors identified by leading occupational stress theories. We evaluated the COPSOQ-II regarding factor structure and longitudinal, discriminant, and convergent validity using latent structural equation modeling in a large sample of Australian school principals (N = 2,049). Results reveal that confirmatory factor analysis produced marginally acceptable model fit. A novel approach we call set exploratory structural equation modeling (set-ESEM), where cross-loadings were only allowed within a priori defined sets of factors, fit well, and was more parsimonious than a full ESEM. Further multitrait-multimethod models based on the set-ESEM confirm the importance of a principal's psychosocial risk factors; Stressors and depression were related to demands and ill-being, while confidence and autonomy were related to wellbeing. We also show that working in the private sector was beneficial for showing a low psychosocial risk, while other demographics have little effects. Finally, we identify five latent risk profiles (high risk to no risk) of school principals based on all psychosocial factors. Overall the research presented here closes the theory application gap of a strong multi-dimensional measure of psychosocial risk-factors.
Most research into emotional labour is focussed on front-line service staff and health professionals, in short-term interactions. Little exists exploring the emotional labour involved in repeated on-going interactions by educational leaders with key stakeholders. This study explored the relationships between emotional demands, three emotional labour facets, burnout, wellbeing, and job satisfaction in 1320 full-time school principals. Principals displayed significantly higher scores on emotional demands at work, burnout, and job satisfaction, and significantly lower wellbeing scores than the general population. Structural equation modelling revealed that emotional demands predicted elevated use of all emotional labour strategies. Surface Acting-Hiding emotions had an inverse relationship with burnout, wellbeing and job satisfaction. Surface Acting-Faking emotions had an inverse relationship with job satisfaction. Deep Acting demonstrated no significant associations with outcome variables. The findings of this study extend the current literature on the effects of emotional labor. The study also extends understanding about the separate effects of the facets of emotional labour, which will aid in the development of interventions to reduce high levels of burnout reported by educational leaders.
A longitudinal model of emotional labor and job-related psychosocial health: controlling for emotional demands is vital. We investigated emotional labor and occupational psychosocial health outcomes (including job satisfaction, burnout, and quality of life) among Australian school principals (N=1300) in a three-wave longitudinal study. Structural equation modelling revealed no causal relationships between any emotional labor facet and psychosocial work variables or vice versa. However, when individual level of emotional demands was not included as a predictor in the structural equation model some reverse causation relationships between emotional labor and psychosocial occupational health appeared. This finding suggests that emotional demand levels are not uniform by, or even within, profession but are wide-ranging and need to be accounted for as a direct effect before measuring how emotional labor may impact on psychosocial health.