Causes and Prevention of Burnout

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 Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Service Staff
The term burnout is often used by human service professionals who have reached their personal limits. According to the Mayo Clinic (2010), job burnout is defined as “a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work” (para. 2). Functioning in this state is difficult in any profession. However, in the field of human services it is critical to work with a clear and focused mind because the product at stake is human capital. This paper will discuss factors that contribute to burnout as well as preventative measures.

Contributing Factors
Several symptoms occur when someone is experiencing burnout. Symptoms include being cynical or critical at work, no energy or effort toward productivity, or no satisfaction from daily job tasks or achievements. Underlying reasons for these symptoms are the core problems. One of which is lack of control. For instance, an organization may not be able to provide the necessary resources for employees to perform their jobs effectively. Another example would be a supervisor not being willing to listen to an employee’s suggestions regarding job assignments or workloads.

Also on an organizational level comes the problem of dysfunctional workplace dynamics. This could range from a contemptuous coworker to a boss who micromanages every aspect of an employee’s job. A mismatch in values may contribute to burnout also. Whether it is a moral or cultural conflict, not seeing eye-to-eye or favoring the organization’s way of doing business can take a toll.

Unclear job expectations are another factor to consider. It can be unsettling to be consistently unsure of the range of authority or level of expectation that a supervisor has. This not only has a bearing on the individual employee, but also on the team dynamic...
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