Faculty Burnout in Relation to Work Environment and Humor as a Coping Strategy

By Tümkaya, Songül | Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, September 2006 | Go to article overview
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Faculty Burnout in Relation to Work Environment and Humor as a Coping Strategy


Tümkaya, Songül, Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri


Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between university faculty's gender, age, academic position, and working environment with their burnout levels. In addition, the relationship between the participants' burnout levels and the use of humor as a coping strategy was investigated. 283 full-time faculty 97 of whom were female and 186 were male working at Çukurova University volunteered to participate in this study. The mean age of the participants was 38.17 (SD=9.89). The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), the Coping Humor Scale (CHS) and a Socio-demographic Data and Working Environment Evaluation Form were used to collect data in the study. Results show that female faculty experience emotional exhaustion(EE) more in comparison to male faculty (p<.0001). It was revealed that professors as a group feel emotional exhaustion and personal failure the least (EE, x: 14.14; PF, x: 12.76) whereas research assistants feel it the most (EE, x: 19.34; PF, x: 15.73). Faculty's use of humor as a coping strategy on their burnout levels didn't show significant differences (p>.05). Besides, a significant difference (p<.05) was found between subdimensions of burnout and several evaluation ranks, including lecturers' believes to be promoted, work guarantee, work prestige, recommending job to someone else, and administrator and colleague support.

Key Words

Burnout, Lecturers, Working Environment, Use of Humor as a Coping Strategy.

Universities, as educational institutions, give important responsibilities to faculty who encounter various problems mainly in their scientific competence due to inadequate circumstances at workplace. Working in undesired and stressful conditions with a constantly changing educational policy, faculty in universities are affected in terms of the quality and quantity of their performance. Everyday, faculty are obliged to meet the needs of their students and managers, having to overlook their own emotional experiences. Different from the other teachers in other institutions, faculty have the responsibility for lecturing as well as doing scientific research. In order to progress in their academic careers, faculty have to keep up with innovations, improve themselves intellectually, and meet the assessment requirements for professional development. Thus, they gradually become inadequate in performing their tasks, unable to deal with stress, and eventually get emotionally exhausted. When personal relationships become complex and the result is the modern time phenomenon "burnout", which emerged in the 1970s especially among the people working in service industry.

The term "burnout" was first used by Freudenberger (1974) and Maslach (1976) (cited in Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). Freundenberger defined burnout as personal failure, exhaustion, and excessive demands on energy, power and resources. Maslach and Jackson (1986) defined burnout as physical, emotional, and intellectual exhaustion, including physical burnout, chronic fatigue, helplessness, hopelessness, negative ego development, and negative attitudes towards occupation, life and other people. The subdimensions of burnout include depersonalization of people towards their colleagues, feelings of emotional exhaustion, and decreasing levels of personal achievement and emotional sufficiency.

A burnout risk emerges if the occupational demands are much higher than the existing conditions and resources. However, a decrease in workers' performance and enthusiasm also takes place when occupational resources are limited and conditions are poor (Demerouti et al., 2001). A great number of researchers dealing with the effects of burnout emphasize that physical, emotional, and intellectual burnout are interrelated (Pines et al., 1981). The process of burnout is affected not only by external variables such as working loads (Sarros & Sarros, 1987), social support (Cheuk & Wong, 1995), lack of managerial support (Brissie et al.

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