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Wellbeing in the Higher Education Sector: A qualitative study of staff perceptions in UK universities

journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 16:18 authored by Vida Douglas, Natalie Pattison, Kerryn Warren, Maria Karanika-MurrayMaria Karanika-Murray

The Higher Education (HE) sector is beset with mental ill-health, stress and burnout, negatively impacting staff productivity and retention. These challenges are due to a reduction in financial support for HE coupled with a growing number of students and increased workloads, as evidenced by recent strike actions in the UK. While research on mental ill-health in HE is extensive, our understanding of wellbeing in higher education is limited. Yet understanding wellbeing in the workplace can foster positive experiences and resilience, counteracting more negative experiences. This paper presents findings from 21 in-depth semi-structured interviews with employees (academic and professional staff) in UK universities to understand staff perceptions of wellbeing and the impact of the HE context. Five themes were identified: (1) factors contributing to staff wellbeing, such as colleague support; (2) fragility and duality of staff wellbeing, on how wellbeing can be damaged as well as its changing nature; (3) the dichotomy of collegial peer and organizational support, on university and staff actions toward wellbeing; (4) outsider from within, on an experienced lack of belonging; and (5) creativity and growth, on opportunities for staff development. Gaps in our understanding of Black, Asian, Minority, and Ethnic staff experiences were also identified. Implications for bolstering wellbeing in practice and future research are discussed.

History

Author affiliation

College of Social Sci Arts and Humanities School of Business

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health

Publisher

Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

issn

1555-5240

eissn

1555-5259

Copyright date

2024

Available date

2025-05-10

Language

en

Deposited by

Professor Maria Karanika-Murray

Deposit date

2024-05-30

Rights Retention Statement

  • No