Postdoc Jessica Breaugh awarded 2021 Best Article in Public Personnel Management Journal

Social relationships play big role in managing workplace stress for European public servants, her research shows.

Jessica Breaugh, postdoctoral researcher at the Hertie School’s Centre for Digital Governance, recently received the Best Article Award for work published in 2021 from the Public Personnel Management Journal. In her paper, Breaugh examines how public servants across Europe perceive stress, using data collected from 4,400 public servants across eight different occupations and 30 European countries.

Her research focuses on the relationship between stress and engagement of European public servants through the lens of motivation theory – and finds that social relationships rather than job characteristics play a stronger role of stress management.

 “These findings are important for public sector research given the contradiction between the necessity to employ both budget reducing work intensification reforms that increase work stress, and the same time a new interest in developing a highly engaged workforce,” she writes in the paper.

Breaugh found relative consistency across countries but not across occupations, which means that job characteristics are essential in understanding what triggers engagement and stress, she says. This suggests more attention needs to be placed on understanding public sector professional profiles, she says. In addition, the results show that job meaning, a positive organization climate, feeling high skilled and job autonomy were associated with a more engaged workforce, while the threat of job loss was associated with lower engagement.

The paper was also profiled in a special issue focusing on management responses to coping with COVID-19.

Read the full paper here.  


The Hertie School is not responsible for any content linked or referred to from these pages. Views expressed by the author/interviewee may not necessarily reflect the views and values of the Hertie School.