Extent and sources of occupational stress in university staff
Canadian higher education sector has undergone numerous changes during the past decades. Increased student enrolments, massive cuts in human resources and constant restructuring are changes likely to have had a considerable impact on all employees (e.g., administrative, trades, and faculty). While many studies conducted in different countries have shown that stress in universities is a problem of alarming proportions, to date, no study of the entire staff of a university has been carried out in Canada. This research uses an approach based on the prevention and management of the sources of occupational stress to study 1086 employees of a Quebec university. Data were collected by means of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. It was found that the proportion of individuals who reported a high level of psychological distress was twice as high (40%) than that reported for a Quebec-wide sample (20%). Work overload, the relationship with one's superior and participation in decision making were systematically reported as high risks to employees' health. It was found that human resources management practices have not followed the rapid organizational changes which affected the university in the past years. The results are discussed in light of the risk management approach.