The initial flame is now burned out!

4/9/2021 2:14:17 PM

The initial flame is now burned out! 

When you begin a new job you are just like a sparked flame, spreading positive energy and efforts with the hope of being successful and meeting your expectations from your new job. However, this new flame is now at the root of exhaustion, frustration, anger, cynicism, and consequently failure! All of these are the ingredients of being burned out! 
This is a horrible experience at the workplace that not only affects the individual himself/herself but also his peers and the organization as a whole. These conditions will make some people quit the job but most of them will stay and work like robots. Notice that these robots are doing their bare minimum instead of their best! 
New employees bring dedication, effort, and commitment to their job and want to witness the positive effects of their accomplishments. If that doesn't happen an employee will be burned out! 
This was the story of the burnout experience, what is its exact definition? 
Burnout is a psychological syndrome resulted from the job’s chronic interpersonal stressors. Burnout has 3 dimensions including, overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Most of us are familiar with the exhaustion dimension of it; as the people who experience it announce it because it has positive impacts and usually refers to a hard-working person more than having any negative impact. On the other hand, the other two dimensions (feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment) are rarely announced by the employees because of the negative impact they carry. This does not deny the critical role of these dimensions as they directly touch the mental health of the employees and thus decreasing their productivity. (Maslach et al., 2016, Maslach et al., 2017)

Now,  what are the stressors that lead to burnout? 

1- Workload: the most common stressor, when job demands exceed employee’s limits. You have to do much in little time with few facilities. The increased workload is directly proportional to burnout, especially with its exhaustion arm (Cordes and Dougherty, 1993; Maslach et al., 2001; Schaufeli and Enzmann, 1998). Notice, chronic workload increase is the one that leads to burnout other than an occasional urgent workload where there is no chance for rest, recovering, and restoring balance.

2- Control: based on the demand-control theory of job stress (Karasek and Theorell, 1990) employees should exercise professional autonomy; having the chance to take influential decisions in their own job and position plus giving the appropriate access to the sources needed for an effective job.

3-Reward: rewards whether monetary, social, and intrinsic are closely connected with expectations; insufficient reward (whether financial, institutional, or social) increases people’s vulnerability to burnout (e.g., Chappell and Novak, 1992; Glicken, 1983; Maslanka, 1996; Siefert et al., 1991).
Moreover, the devaluation caused by the lack of recognition or ignorance from service recipients, colleagues, managers, and external stakeholders will also cause feelings of inefficacy (Cordes and Dougherty, 1993; Maslach et al., 1996).

4-Community: the general quality of social interaction at work, comprising issues of conflict, mutual support, closeness, and the capacity to work as a team. The research mainly highlights the supervisors, coworkers, and family members as the community supporters (Cordes and Dougherty, 1993; Greenglass, Fiksenbaum, and Burke, 1994; Greenglass, Pantony, and Burke, 1988; Maslach et al., 1996).

5-Fairness: how fair and equitable are the decisions perceived? Employees are usually more concerned with the fairness of the process (procedural) than with the favorableness of the outcome (distributive).(e.g., Lawler, 1968; Tyler, 1990). This pattern is evident in burnout research (e.g., Lambert et al., 2010).

6-Values: there is not considered research on the role of values for job stress, but it might have a key effect in predicting levels of burnout and engagement (Leiter and Maslach, 2004). Values are the ideals and motivations that originally attracted people to their job, and thus they are the motivating connection between the worker and the workplace, which goes beyond the utilitarian exchange of time for money or advancement. When there is a values conflict in the job, and thus a gap between individual and organizational values, workers will find themselves making a trade-off between work they want to do and work they have to do.

To sum up, burnout is an extremely important phenomenon affecting individuals and organizations. Employees are the building blocks of any organization, if the building blocks were not intact the entire house will be collapsed. How's your job? How’s your organization? Are you experiencing burnout? 
You can take this test to know your approximate burnout level. 

By: Kawthar Mohamed 
The manager of the UJA Team and the founder of NEGOA interest group 


Chappell, N. L., and Novak, M. (1992). The role of support in alleviating stress among nursing assistants. Gerontologist, 32(3), 351–359.

Cordes C. L., and Dougherty, T. W. (1993). A review and an integration of research on job burnout. Academy of Management Review, 18, 621–656.

Glicken, M. D. (1983). A counseling approach to employee burnout. Personnel Journal, 62(3), 222–228.

Greenglass, E. R., Pantony, K.-L., and Burke, R. J. (1988). A gender-role perspective on role conflict, work stress and social support. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 3, 317–328.

Greenglass, E. R., Fiksenbaum, L., and Burke, R. J. (1994). The relationship between social support and burnout over time in teachers. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 9, 219–230. 

Karasek, R., and Theorell, T. (1990). Stress, Productivity, and the Reconstruction of Working Life. New York: Basic Books.

Lambert, E. G., Hogan, N. L., Jiang, S., Elechi, O., Benjamin, B., Morris, A.,…Dupuy, P. (2010). The relationship among distributive and procedural justice and correctional life satisfaction, burnout, and turnover intent: An exploratory study. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38, 7–16.

Lawler, E. E., III (1968). Equity theory as a predictor of productivity and work quality. Psychological Bulletin, 70, 596–610.

Leiter, M. P., and Maslach, C. (2004). Areas of Worklife: A structured approach to organizational predictors of job burnout. In P. L. Perrew´e and D. C. Ganster (Eds.), Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, vol. 3 (pp. 91134). Oxford: Elsevier Science.

Maslach, C., Jackson, S. E., and Leiter, M. P. (1996). The Maslach Burnout Inventory, 3rd edn. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. [The MBI is now published and distributed by Mind Garden.]

Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., and Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397422.
Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2016). Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 15(2), 103–111.

Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2017). Understanding burnout: New models. In C. L. Cooper & J. C. Quick (Eds.), The handbook of stress and health: A guide to research and practice (p. 36–56). Wiley Blackwell. 10.1002/9781118993811.ch3

Maslanka, H. (1996). Burnout, social support, and AIDS volunteers. AIDS Care, 8(2), 195–206.

Schaufeli, W. B., and Enzmann, D. (1998). The Burnout Companion to Study and Practice: A Critical Analysis. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.

Siefert, K., Jayaratne, S., and Chess, W. A.(1991).Job satisfaction, burnout, and turnover in health care social workers. Health and Social Work, 16(3), 193–202.

Tyler, T. R. (1990). Why People Obey the Law. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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