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Working environment and job satisfaction

Working environment and job satisfaction

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Working environment and job satisfaction: psychometric evaluation of the working environment scale
Working environment and job satisfaction: psychometric evaluation of the working environment scale

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Published by: potionpotion on Dec 27, 2013
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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2004) 39:576580DOI 10.1007/s00127-004-0791-z
The working environment inmental health wards has been shown to have profound ef-fects on the health and work stability ofmental healthworkers.Despite an apparent need for regular measure-ment ofwork environment,development ofshort and re-liable instruments for such measurements has beenlargely neglected.The aim ofthe present study was toevaluate the psychometric properties ofthe Working En-vironment Scale-10 (WES-10).
During the pe-riod 1990 through 2000,a total of640 staffmembers on42 wards for psychotic patients completed the WES-10.To establish the number ofsubscales,a factor analysiswas carried out.The internal consistency ofthe subscaleswas calculated as Cronbach’s alpha.We also collected dataconcerning satisfaction with the ward,its patients andstaff,and for how long the respondents had worked andexpected to continue to work at the ward.
Weidentified four subscales named:SelfRealization,Work-load,Conflict and Nervousness.The psychometric prop-erties ofthe subscales proved to be acceptable.All thesubscales were significantly correlated with at least onesatisfaction item,and/or the time the staffexpected tocontinue at the ward.Most notably,the SelfRealizationsubscale was strongly correlated to general satisfactionwith the ward,and to the time the staffexpected to workon the ward in the future,while Conflict was strongly neg-atively correlated with liking for staff.
TheWES-10 appears to measure four clinically meaningfulsubscales.It seems well suited for use in further researchand for evaluation ofclinical milieus.
Key words
work environment – psychometrics – staff members – satisfaction – questionnaires
J.I.Røssberg · Ø.Eiring · S.Friis
Work environment and job satisfaction
A psychometric evaluation of the Working Environment Scale-10
Accepted:18 February 2004
   S   P   P   E    7   9   1
An extensive literature has been generated about the mi-lieu in which health professionals work and the impactit has on both mental and physical health [1–5].The po-tentially stressful nature ofmental health work has beenamply demonstrated.Several studies have reported ahigh level ofburnout and poor mental health amongpsychiatric staffmembers [6–11].A poor work environ-ment has proved to be associated with reduced job sat-isfaction,absenteeism,somatic complaints,burnout anddepression [12–17].It has been reported how a poorwork environment might influence the work perfor-mance negatively [18],and promote negative and cyni-cal attitudes towards patients and colleagues [19].Apoor work environment is probably one ofthe main rea-sons for the high staffturnover rate [1,20,21] and poorinpatient satisfaction and outcome [22,23].Against this background,there is an obvious need forregular studies ofthe work environment on psychiatricwards.As pointed out by Burnard etal.[24],the workingenvironment should be regularly measured,as one way to measure service quality.Measures ofthe working en-vironment and job satisfaction may also be usefulbenchmarks for evaluating future changes and develop-ments in the psychiatric wards,and to monitor and im-prove the clinical working environment.To regularly study the working environment,we needan instrument that is clinically meaningful,easy to useand with acceptable psychometric properties.To be clin-ically meaningful,the instrument has to measure thecentral dimensions.Reviewing the literature,it seemsthat previous studies have identified three core dimen-sions named:Workload (Work pressure,Task require-ments) [2,21,24–26],Personal growth (Professionalgrowth,Support,Achievement value and growth) [14,21,26] and Conflict [2,25,27].Some studies come upwith additional dimensions like safety,role clarity,salary,work hazards,home-work conflict,professionalstatus and organizational issues [7,14,21,24,25].
J.I.Røssberg,MD (
) · Ø.Eiring,MD · S.Friis,MD,PhDDept.ofPsychiatry Ullevaal University Hospital0407 Oslo,Norway Tel.:+47-22/118370Fax:+47-22/117848E-Mail:j.i.rxssberg@psykiatri.uio.no
Many ofthe original instruments seem to have beenso large and complex that they have been difficult to use.Consequently,many studies ofthe working environ-ment tend to have small and unrepresentative samplesofpsychiatric staffmembers [8].Admittedly,severalworking environment scales have been used in shortforms to facilitate ease ofuse or they have been changedto become more suitable for mental health workers [28],but,as indicated in a recent review,analysis ofthe psy-chometric properties ofdifferent instruments seemsmostly to be lacking [6].To overcome many ofthe previous difficulties,wehave developed a short and user-friendly ten-itemworking environment scale.We collected data from alarge number ofpsychiatric staffmembers on 42 differ-ent psychiatric wards.The main aims ofthis study wereto evaluate the psychometric properties ofthe WorkingEnvironment Scale-10 (WES-10) on a ward level.We de-cided to examine whether the WES-10 measures clini-cally meaningful subscales worth using in future re-search and in a clinical context.Another objective was toexamine how these subscales were related to general jobsatisfaction and the staffmember’s intention to leavetheir job.More specifically,we wanted to answer the fol-lowing questions:1.Does the factor structure ofthe WES-10 point to spe-cific subscales?2.What are the internal consistencies’,mean scores,standard deviations,and intercorrelations ofthe sub-scales?3.What is the relationship between the WES-10 sub-scales and the staffmembers’general satisfactionwith the psychiatric ward,liking for patients andstaff?4.What is the relationship between the WES-10 sub-scale scores and how long the staffmembers haveworked at the psychiatric wards and how long they intend to work at the wards?
Subjects and methods
During the period 1990 through 2000,a total of640 staffmembers on42 wards for psychotic patients completed the WES-10.The WES-10is a self-report questionnaire and comprises the ten items displayedin Appendix 1.Three items (items 1,2 and 3) were taken from the Per-sonal Development Scale developed by Moos [29].The other sevenitems were developed by a clinical research group at Ullevaal Univer-sity Hospital (1981) with the intention to evaluate the restructuring of an acute ward [30].The items comprising the WES-10 were rated ona five-point scale ranging from 1,not at all or never,to 5,very often orto a large extent.This study included wards where more than two-thirds ofthe pa-tients were diagnosed in the psychotic spectrum ofmental diseases.Most ofthe wards were short-term (n=36),but some intermediateand long-term wards (n=6) were also included.Three questions were applied to capture general satisfaction withthe milieu.The questions were rated on a five-point scale rangingfrom 1,not at all,to 5,very much,and were:(1) “How satisfied are youwith this ward?”,(2) “How much do you like the patients on thisward?and (3) “How much do you like the staffon this ward?”.Themean and SD concerning these three questions were respectively:4.03(0.33),4.20 (0.20) and 4.43 (0.21).
To establish the number ofsubscales ofthe WES-10,we carried out afactor analysis (PCA) with varimax rotation.For each factor,we madea corresponding subscale.Items were included into the subscales if they had a loading on the corresponding factor ≥0.50 and ifthe dif-ference between this loading and the highest loading on non-corre-sponding factors was ≥0.05.The internal consistency ofthe subscales was calculated as Cron-bach’s alpha.We calculated the Corrected Item Total subscale Corre-lation (CITC) for the subscale,which comprised four items.Pearsoncorrelations were used to assess the relationships between the sub-scales and between the subscales and the other variables.
A total of105 individual therapists and 529 nursing staff members completed the WES-10.A total ofsix staff members did not report whether they were individualtherapists or nursing staff.All staffmembers were in-cluded in the study except for night staff.The limitationwas due to difficulties in obtaining an acceptable num-ber ofcompleted questionnaires from the latter group of employees.All staffmembers were asked for how long they hadworked at the psychiatric ward and how long they ex-pected to work on the ward.A total of15% ofthe staff members had been employed less than 6 months,22%between 6 months and 18 months and 20% between 18months and 3 years.Ofthe staffmembers,43% had beenemployed more than 3 years.A total of15% were plan-ning to quit their jobs during the following 6 months.Anadditional 15% were planning to quit before 1 year hadpassed.The largest group,47%,thought they would con-tinue to work at the same psychiatric ward somewherebetween 1 and 3 years.A total of23% were planning tocontinue for more than 3 years.For each ward,we calcu-lated the percentage ofstaffmembers who had beenworking:(a) for less than 18 months,and (b) for morethan 3 years.We also calculated the percentage that in-tended to continue:(a) for less than 1 year,and (b) formore than 3 years.The factor analysis revealed four factors with anEigenvalue >1.These four factors accounted for 79% of the variance.The factor loadings ofthe items are listedin Table1.The four subscales were named:SelfRealiza-tion,Workload,Conflict and Nervousness.The SelfRealization subscale explained 37% ofthevariance and comprised four items (items 1,2,5 and 6).This subscale measures to what extent the staffmembersfeel supported,whether they achieve more confidenceand whether they experience being able to use theirknowledge working on the ward.The Workload subscaleexplained 19% ofthe variance and comprised two items(items 9 and 10).This subscale measures the number of tasks imposed on the staffmembers and also to what ex-tent they feel they should have been on several places atthe same time.The last two subscales,Conflict and Ner-vousness,each comprised two items and explained re-spectively 13% and 12% ofthe variance.The Conflict
subscale measures to what extent the staffmembers’ex-perience conflicts and loyalty problems among them(items 7 and 8).The Nervousness subscale measures towhat extent the staffmembers are worried about goingto work and to what extent they feel nervous or tense onthe ward (items 3 and 4).All the items were included inthe subscales.The psychometric properties ofthe subscales provedto be satisfactory.Cronbach’s alpha for the four sub-scales were:SelfRealization:0.85,Workload:0.84,Con-flict:0.69 and Nervousness:0.66.The four items in theSelfRealization subscale had a mean CITC of0.52.Theintercorrelations between the two items comprising thelast three subscales were respectively:Workload:0.72,Conflict:0.53 and Nervousness:0.49.The mean scores and standard deviations for the foursubscales were respectively:SelfRealization:3.73 (0.23),Workload:3.41 (0.36),Conflict:2.06 (0.28) and Nervous-ness:1.98 (0.21).As seen from Table2,the subscales were only moder-ately intercorrelated (range:0.13–0.37,median:0.30).As seen from Table3,the SelfRealization subscalewas most strongly correlated with general satisfactionand liking for the patients.The Conflict subscale wasmost strongly correlated (negatively) with liking for theother staffmembers.Table4 shows that only the Workload subscale wassignificantly correlated with the time staffmembers hadworked at the ward.This subscale showed a moderatenegative correlation with the percentage that hadworked less than 18 months at the ward.Two subscales(SelfRealization and Nervousness) were significantly related to the time the staffexpected to work on the wardin the future.The relationship was most pronounced forSelfRealization,which was moderately negatively corre-lated with the percentage who intended to continue lessthan 1 year,and positively with the percentage who in-tended to continue for more than 3 years.
The main finding ofthis study is that the WES-10 fea-tures acceptable psychometric properties on a wardlevel.Although not directly compared to other scales,theresults ofthis study clearly indicate that the core aspectsofthe working environment can be captured with aneasy-to-use instrument that only comprises ten items.The instrument seems well suited for use in research andevaluation as it reliably measures four clinically mean-ingful subscales.The validity is demonstrated by the fact that Conflictwas strongly negatively correlated with liking for staff,while SelfRealization was fairly strongly positively cor-related with liking for patients.Furthermore,three othe four WES subscales were significantly related to gen-eral satisfaction with the ward.It also makes sense thatNervousness was significantly related to a high percent-age who intended to continue at the unit for less than 1year.It seems that the WES-10 is able to capture the coredimensions ofthe working environment.The Workloadand Conflict subscales frequently appear in other stud-
The factor loadings for each item. Only factor loadings
0.30 are includedItems from theIIIIIIIVWES-1010.8220.8630.9440.450.320.6350.630.4360.9170.8380.8590.91100.91
The intercorrelations between the four subscalesSelf RealizationConflictWorkloadNervousnessSelf RealizationX0.37*0.130.35*ConflictX0.200.34*WorkloadX0.25NervousX* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
The intercorrelations between the four subscales and general satisfactionwith the psychiatric wards, patients and staff membersHow satisfiedHow much do youHow much do youare you withlike the patientslike the staff onthis ward?on this ward?this wardSelf Realization0.56**0.49**0.40**Conflict0.41**0.160.61**Workload0.200.150.17Nervousness0.300.270.15** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
The correlations between the four subscales and how long the staff mem-bers have been employed and how long they expect to work at the psychiatric ward% worked% worked% intend% intend<18 months>3 yearsto continueto continue<1 year>3 yearsSelf Realization0.160.070.38*0.32*Conflict0.**0.25* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)

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