South Africa ranked second as most stressed-out country in the world, employee

Image via Adobe Stock

South Africa ranks second as most stressed-out country in the world

A Stellenbosch University PhD student says companies in South Africa need to understand employee wellness better.

South Africa ranked second as most stressed-out country in the world, employee

Image via Adobe Stock

As many of us know, stress is inevitable and in most cases, our workplaces are the main source. Lucky for us, PhD student Angela Marsburg has embarked on a psychological study focusing on employee wellness in South Africa.

Marsburg, a student at the department of industrial psychology at Stellenbosch University, hopes to explore experiences at work to determine what stresses South Africans out in the workplace and what companies can do to combat it. 

According to Bloomberg, South Africa ranks as the second-most stressed-out country in the world — with Nigeria taking first place. 

South Africa reached second place based on homicide rates, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), income inequality, corruption, unemployment, pollution and life expectancy. 

“The stat [from Bloomberg] refers to living standards in general and not workplaces specifically,” said Marsburg. 

She has, however, used the statistic to help people realise that the situation is serious. 

Marsburg, juggling a PhD and a three-month-old baby, said: “We have to start somewhere and why not start with our workplaces where we spend the majority of our day?” 

Psychological well-being in South Africa

According to Marsburg, recent research shows that work can be a contributing factor in stress-related illness, and more South African employees are taking time off from work, or requiring sick leave, due to stress. 

In order to create a workplace environment in South Africa that helps — and does not hinder — employee stress levels, Marsburg said her study is aimed at understanding the nature of employee well-being from a psychological perspective. 

“This research hopes to explore your experiences at work to determine what makes employees psychologically well,” she said. 

Marsburg said she ideally needs 1 000 participants from a variety of fields, organisations and industries. 

“I want to look at the individual process underpinning psychological well-being to help employees at work. If organisations understand the process behind levels of well-being, they can craft workspaces that better foster this psychological phenomenon,” she added.

“We live in a very stressful society and I feel organisations have a moral obligation to provide environments that afford employees the opportunity to flourish.”

Marsburg said she hopes that by understanding psychological well-being within various industries and sectors in South Africa, better interventions can be suggested and developed to improve levels of well-being experienced within workplaces. 

Here’s what Marsburg needs to complete her study

In order to complete her study, obtain results and help those in South Africa with unnecessary stress, Marsburg needs full participation in three online surveys which “should take about 10 to 20 minutes”.

The questions in the survey investigate need satisfaction, frustration, motivation to engage in behaviours that might satisfy needs and subjective well-being. 

“We will collect data at three different time points, to determine changes in psychological well-being at work,” she added. 

Marsburg has 409 people signed up so far and needs another 600 people in order to get results.

“​The results will provide insights into the psychological health of employees from a truly South African perspective and contribute towards the completion of my studies,” she added. 

Adding some motivation, Marsburg said: “Your voluntary anonymous participation would be greatly appreciated and rewarded with a chance to be entered into a lucky draw for a fitness device worth R3 000.”  

For more detailed information about who can participate, how your rights as a participant will be protected, and how to sign up for the study, visit:

  • contact Angela Marsburg at or 082-607-1120

For updates on progress or the final research results, follow or like the “Employee Well-being SA” Facebook page.