This research seeks to investigate the definition of burnout among human service staff. It also investigates the history of burnout, and the individual, cultural, organizational, social and supervisory factors that result to burnout. The research also establishes individual, job role, and organizational factors that prevent burnout. This study is particularly essential because this issue affects the service staff and managers, as well. Institutions and individual researchers have carried out research on this topic. The scholars have more or less agreed about my topic, and my paper argues for a better interpretation.
A comparative case study is the methodology that this study utilizes. The utilization of the comparative case study is because of abundance of information dealing with the topic of discussion. In addition, by looking at past researches on the topic of discussion, this research ascertains various opinions made concerning burnout. It also establishes ways to prevent burnout among the human service staff.
Burnout is a term employed in the description of prolonged occupational stress. This occupational stress occurs to human service workers, and entails emotional exhaustion, withdrawal from work, and loss of energy especially to formerly engaged employees. This concept of burnout is traced back to 1970s from the work of two researchers namely Herbert Freudenberger and Christina Maslach. Other signs that distinguish burnout include constant stress that makes a person feel disillusioned, utterly worn out, and helpless. Burnout is a career-threatening ailment, and people need to deal with it as soon as they feel the signs. Research establishes that basic stress management strategies are sufficient for solving the burnout problem (Cooper, 2004). However, if discovered in the later stages, burnout recovery takes more effort and time although it is achieved through making time for oneself, reassessing the priorities, and seeking support.
Several factors result to burnout. These are categorized under social support, individual, organizational, cultural, and supervisory. The work related causes of burnout include the lack of vacation or a raise for long working periods, the feeling that one lacks control over his or her work, lack of appreciation or recognition, unspecified job expectations, monotonous and challenging work, and a high-pressure environment (Maslach & Leiter, 2000). The causes of burnout linked to a person’s lifestyle include absence of enough sleep, overworking without sparing time for socializing and relaxing, lack of supportive and close relationships, doing too many tasks without help from others, and over expectations from many people. The last cause of burnout falls under personality traits. These include the need to be in control, perfectionist tendencies, pessimistic view of oneself, and the high achieving or the ‘A’ personality.
According to Cooper (2004), there are individual, job role and organizational methods of preventing burnout. Firstly, from the job role and organizational perspective, burnout prevention requires that problems be actively addressed. This calls for a proactive approach rather than a passive one regarding issues at the work place. Taking time off also helps to prevent burnout and requires that a person goes for a vacation or keeps off from the work environment totally. Change of duty also breaks the work monotony and prevents burnout because it will present a new challenge rather than the usual work. The clarification of a person’s job description is also significant in preventing burnout, as a person will not feel disillusioned by doing a task not meant for him or her.
The individual methods of preventing burnout include starting every morning with a relaxing ritual such as doing some little exercises or meditating for the last ten minutes before waking up. Another thing includes setting boundaries for ones achievements, and dealing away with over expectation, adopting healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits, taking sometime of technology, engaging in something creative always, and learning to manage stress (Maslach & Leiter, 2000).
From a personal view, stress impacts on me hugely. Whether it is personal or job related stress, I find it essential to deal with it in an appropriate manner because if left unchecked, it leads to disillusionment and total burnout. In most cases, personal and work related stress affects my working spirit and relationship with others. Personal and work related stress makes me underachieve, and my dedication to a certain work is questionable. Three steps help me to reduce the effects of burnout, and these include seeking support, re-evaluating my goals and priorities, and slowing down. Slowing down involves cutting down on the commitments that I undertake.
It is essential that human service manager stays observable of any unusual behavior emanating from his work force. Therefore, it is significant for a human service manager to monitor the performance rates of individual workers, which is essential in predicting chances of burnout on a staff member (Cooper, 2004). Another thing that a human service manager can do to monitor staff burnout involves checking the attendance of individual workers. In addition, reviewing the salaries of workers also helps to establish those workers who are prone to burnout because of lack of salary increment for a long period.
In conclusion, burnout reduces the staff performance as it entails the prolonged work stress. Several factors lead to staff burnout and these include lack of the job description, over expectations from different quotas, lack of salary increase, lack of enough sleep, and lack of time out from the working environment. A working environment that is not comfortable also promotes chances of staff burnout. Burnout prevention strategies involve taking time from the work environment, seeking for a job description, salary increment, change of roles at the workstation, and addressing of problems adequately. For a manager to address the burnout issue among the employees, it is significant to monitor the staff’s daily behavior and tries to establish signs related to under performance and work absence.
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