Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Effect of Job Involvement on Burnout

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Effect of Job Involvement on Burnout

Article excerpt

Introduction

High levels of stress can ultimately cause exhaustion and break-down. Excess stress can lead to Burnout, the fall-out being low levels of Job Involvement or rather low levels of Job Involvement leading to Burnout. Like the proverbial chicken and egg story, it is difficult to establish a cause-effect relationship between Burnout and Job Involvement. Burnout can have serious implications for the managers as it can lead to chequered promotion avenues and slow career progression. It could also affect their productivity and thereby affect the organisations adversely. It is not the complacent, easy going individual who runs the highest risk of Burnout. Instead, it is those with high expectations and a sense of purpose who are the greatest victims, people with high standards for themselves and for others.

Concept of Burnout

Substantial research work is being done to study Burnout. Individual Burnout has received considerable attention (Adams 1978, Lauderdale 1982). Kim (1990) calls Burnout an index of organizational quality of life. According to Leatz and Stolar (1993) Burnout is a physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in stressful and emotionally demanding situations, combined with high personal expectations for one's performance. It happens when work looses its meaning, and the ratio of stress to rewards leans heavily towards stress. Burnout is a severe psychological and physical outcome of prolonged and high levels of stress at work. It commonly occurs among employees who are unable to cope with extensive work pressures which demand on their energy, time, and resources and among employees whose work requires dealing with people. Researchers have found that Burnout brings enormous costs to both organizations and individuals because it negatively impacts employees' job attitudes and leads to undesirable behaviours, such as lower job involvement, reduced task performance, and increased turnover intentions (Jackson & Maslach 1982, Leiter & Maslach 1988, Motowidlo & Packard 1986, Shirom 1989, Wright & Bonett 1997, Wright & Cropanzano 1998).

Several studies (Etzion 1984, Maslach & Jackson 1984) have raised the question of vagueness of the term Burnout as well as of job stress. However, several definitions and models have emerged to serve as a basis for further research attempts. Maslach and Jackson (1982) and Etzion (1984) have defined Burnout as a syndrome or a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, and cynicism towards one's work in response to chronic organi-sational stressors. Maslach and Jackson (1981) conceptualized Burnout as consisting of the following three components: (1) Emotional Exhaustion refers to mental and physical tension and strain resulting from job-related stressors; (2) Depersonalization refers to distancing of oneself from others and viewing others impersonally; and (3) Diminished Personal Accomplishment is a feeling of negative self-evaluation. Emotional Exhaustion, one of the most extreme varieties of work-related strain, manifests itself in employees as a general loss of feeling, concern, trust, interest, and spirit (Maslach 1982).

Etzion (1984) relates the Emotional Exhaustion dimension of Burnout to "feeling depressed, trapped, hopeless." Etzion (1988) further emphasized on Burnout syndrome's dynamic aspects as a process of energy depletion and deterioration of performance caused by continuous daily pressures, rather than discrete critical life events. In this process, enthusiasm wanes while previous involvement, initiative, seriousness, and sense of responsibility are gradually replaced by patterns of routine and indifference. Clearly, this definition goes beyond the early research by Maslach (1976, 1982) and Maslach and Jackson (1982), which were based mainly on people employed in care or service professions.

Burnout Stages

Burnout is the culmination of a long term process and occurs over a long period of time and passes through different stages (Matteson & Ivancevich 1987). …

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