Burnout and Its Organizational Effects: A Study on Literature Review

Burnout and Its Organizational Effects: A Study on Literature Review

1. Introduction

Burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. The past 25 years of research has established the complexity of the construct, and places the individual stress experience within a larger organizational context of people’s relation to their work. Recently, the work on burnout has expanded internationally and has led to new conceptual models. The focus on engagement, the positive antithesis of burnout, promises to provide new perspectives on the interventions to alleviate burnout. The social focus of burnout, the substantial research basis concerning the syndrome, and its specific ties to the work domain make a definite and valuable contribution to people’s health and well-being (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001).

Statement of the Problem and Rationale of the Study

Occupational stress and Job Burnout is an emerging concept. Many researches so far conducted to show the actual effects of job burnout on organizational performance. This study strived to fill the gap by presenting a substantial number of research studies conducted so far in different aspects of burnout. This study would assistance the researchers, practitioners, policy makers, students, and various stakeholders. This study would definitely augment the current research on job burnout.

2. Objective of the Study

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between job burnout (emotional exhaustion and depersonalization) and its organizational effect. The study should enhance further research and this study will be conducted based on several studies conducted on research topic.

3. Research Methodology

The methodology used for this study was literature survey. The study was completely based on compiling the studies conducted so far on burnout. The researchers collected different studies on Burnout from different libraries, universities, and book stores. In reviewing the literature, both theoretical and empirical studies were taken into consideration. In total, 10 studies were collected for the review.

4. Burnout

The term “burnout” was coined to describe a psychological syndrome that is characterised by a negative emotional reaction to one’s job as a consequence of extended exposure to a stressful work ecosystem (Maslach and Jackson, 1984; Maslach et al., 2001). The initial research on burnout, which was conducted in the 1970s using interviews, surveys and field observations, focused chiefly on individuals working in the human sets professions, such as health care, social sets, education and legal sets (Cherniss, 1980; Maslach, 1976, 1979, 1982; Maslach and Jackson, 1982, 1984; Pines and Maslach, 1978; Schwab and Iwanicki, 1982). However, over the years, burnout has become a occurrence of notable global significance and it is recognised that it affects individuals in a wide range of occupations (Kalliath et al., 2000; Schaufeli et al., 2009). Maslach and Jackson (1986) conceptualise burnout as comprising of three dimensions, namely, emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals that work with people in some capacity.

5. Types of Burnout

Maslach describes three dimensions of burnout:

Exhaustion: Feeling overextended, both emotionally and physically

Cynicism: Taking a cold, cynical attitude toward responsibilities.

Ineffectiveness: When people feel ineffective, they feel a growing sense of inadequacy

Exhaustion: Exhaustion is the central quality of burnout and the most obvious manifestation of this complicate syndrome. When people describe themselves or others as expe- riencing burnout, they are most often referring to the experience of exhaustion.

Of the three aspects of burnout, exhaustion is the most widely reported and the most thoroughly analyzed. The strong identiï¬ cation of exhaustion with burnout has led some to argue that the other two aspects of the syndrome are minor point or unnecessary (Shirom 1989). However, the fact that exhaustion is a necessary criterion for burnout does not average it is sufï¬ cient. If one were to look at burnout out of context, and simply focus on the individual exhaustion part, one would lose sight of the occurrence thoroughly.

Although exhaustion reflects the stress size of burnout, it fails to capture the basic aspects of the relationship people have with their work. Exhaustion is not something that is simply experienced-rather, it prompts actions to distance oneself emotionally and cognitively from one’s work, presumably as a way to cope with the work overload. Within the human sets, the emotional demands of the work can exhaust a service provider’s capacity to be involved with, and responsive to, the needs of service recipients.

Depersonalization/Cynicism: depersonalization is an attempt to put distance between oneself and service recipients by actively ignoring the qualities that make them rare and engaging people. Their demands are more manageable when they are considered impersonal objects of one’s work. Outside of the human sets, people use cognitive distancing by developing an indifference or cynical attitude when they are depleted and discouraged. Distancing is such an immediate reaction to exhaustion that a strong relationship from exhaustion to cynicism (depersonalization) is found consistently in burnout research, across a wide range of organizational and occupational settings.

Ineffectiveness / inefficacy: The relationship of inefficacy (reduced personal accomplishment) to the other two aspects of burnout is slightly more complicate. In some instances it appears to be a function, to some degree, of either exhaustion, cynicism, or a combination of the two (Byrne 1994, Lee & Ashforth 1996). A work situation with chronic, overwhelming demands that contribute to exhaustion or cynicism is likely to erode one’s sense of effectiveness. Further, exhaustion or depersonalization interfere with effectiveness: It is difficult to gain a sense of accomplishment when feeling depleted or when helping people toward whom one is indifferent. However, in other job settings, inefficacy appears to develop in similar with the other two burnout aspects, instead of sequentially (Leiter 1993). The without of efficacy seems to arise more clearly from a without of applicable resources, while exhaustion and cynicism appear from the presence of work overload and social conflict.

6. Effect of Burnout

The consequences of burnout can be of two types: individual related and the effect on organization’s overall productivity. Tennant (Tennant, C. (2001). Work-related stress and depressive disorders. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 51, 697-704.) has explained the personal consequences such as depressive disorder arising from stress. The effect on organizational of employee burnout includes decline in employee’s job performance and job satisfaction, reduced organizational commitment and increase in employee’s absenteeism and turnover (Cordes C. L., & Dougherty T. W. (1993). A review and an integration of research on job burnout. Acad. Manage. Rev. 18, 621-656.).

Burnout and Job Satisfaction

Malik et al. (2011), Maslach et al. (2001), Kumar et al. (2007) have studied the relationship of job satisfaction with burnout; and have found burnout to be a strongly related to job dissatisfaction. With-in three phases of burnout, emotional exhaustion is found to be more meaningful cause of job dissatisfaction than cynicism (Kumar, S., Fisher, J., Robinson E., Hatcher, S., & Bhagat R. N. (2007). Burnout and job satisfaction in New Zealand psychiatrists: a national study. Int J Soc Psychiatry, 53, 306-16.).

Burnout and Organizational Commitment

Meyer and Allen (1991) have defined three types of organizational commitment: affective, continuance and normative. Affective commitment is the emotional attachment and identification of employees with their organization. Continuance commitment involves the cost of leaving the organization; while normative commitment is the sense of obligation of the employees to stay in the organization. Several research studies have reported that burnout reduced employee’s organizational commitment (Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W.B., & Leiter, M.P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397-422.; Cordes C. L., & Dougherty T. W. (1993). A review and an integration of research on job burnout. Acad. Manage. Rev. 18, 621-656.). Within the three dimensions of burnout, emotional exhaustion and cynicism were found strongly associated with reduced organizational commitment (Halbesleben, J. R. B., & Buckley, M. R. (2004). Burnout in Organizational Life. Journal of Management, 30, 859-879.; Haque, A., & Aslam, M. S. (2011). The Influence of Demographics on Job Burnout. Far East Journal of Psychology and Business, 4(2), 57-72.).

Burnout and Turnover Intention

Leiter and Maslach (Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (2009). Nurse turnover: the mediating role of burnout. Journal of Nursing Management, 17, 331-339.2009) have reported positive relationship of burnout and turnover intention. Several authors have tested the positive relationship of burnout and intention to turnover (Masalch & Jackson, 1985; Jackson et al, 1986; Lieter & Maslach, 2009; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004; Du Plooy and Roodt, 2010; Leiter et al., 2008). Schaufeli and Bakker (Schaufeli, W. B., & Bakker, A. B. (2004). Job demands, job resources and their relationship with burnout and engagement: A multi-sample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 293-315.2004) have investigated employee’s turnover intention and burnout in multiple settings; insurance companies, pension funds, an occupational health and home care institution. They have confirmed the positive relationship between burnout and turnover intention. Goodman and Boss (Goodman, E., & Boss, R. W. (2002). The phase form of burnout and employee turnover. Journal of Health and Human sets Administration, 25(1/2), 33-47.) reported that employees who left the organization scored higher on burnout than those who chose to stay.

7. Organizational Outcomes of Burnout

One of the major problem of burnout is that it creates conflict within the organization often it is termed as work family conflict Work family conflict occurs when the demands of work interfere with the ability to perform family duties (Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985). Work family conflict is connected to negative outcomes, including lower job productivity and satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, and higher burnout (Allen et al., 2000; Magee et al., 2012). The conservation of resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 2001) has been applied in numerous studies to understand the causes and consequences of Work family conflict (Grandey and Cropanzano, 1999). According to conservation of resources theory, individuals seek to retain, gain, or avoid losing, valued resources such as personal health, stable employment, and sustain from co-workers (Hobfoll, 2001). Competing demands from work and family role promote resources loss, which is a major source of stress. Prolonged Work family conflict can rule to poor health outcomes such as burnout and depression (Hobfoll and Shirom, 2001). Work can also assistance individuals and their families (Greenhaus and Powell, 2006). Work family efficiency is a course of action that occurs when work-related experiences generate or promote the development of resources (e.g. mood, psychosocial benefits) that assistance the family domain (Carlson et al., 2006). Research shows that higher Work family efficiency is associated with positive outcomes, including higher job satisfaction, and improved physical health and mental health (McNall et al., 2010). The resource gain-development (RGD) form provides a framework for understanding Work family efficiency (Wayne et al., 2007). The resource gain-development form assumes that individuals have a natural predisposition to developing, achieving, and growing to the greatest degree possible for themselves and groups or systems they belong to, including family and organizations (Wayne et al., 2007). According to the resource gain-development form, Work family efficiency occurs when resources attained in the work domain are applied, consistent, and strengthened in the family domain. The extent of enrichment experienced is dependent on the level of resources an individual already possesses (Wayne et al., 2007). For example, compared to mothers with few resources, mothers with high resource levels (e.g. high income or a supportive partner) can more freely acquire additional resources, and consequently experience greater Work family efficiency. Building on past studies showing that work-family profiles have differing implications for indicators of health and well-being (Demerouti and Geurts, 2004; Rantanen et al., 2013), the final aim of this paper was to examine the relationships between work-tofamily profiles and burnout. past research shows that compared to the active and contradictory profiles, the advantageous profile had the highest life satisfaction and the lowest psychological strains (Rantanen et al., 2013). Job and life satisfaction, chief-selfevaluation, and job exhaustion have also differed across work-family profiles (Demerouti and Geurts, 2004; Rantanen et al., 2011). definite profiles of Work family conflict and Work family efficiency may have implications for burnout, which represents a “combination of physical fatigue, emotional exhaustion, and cognitive weariness” (Shirom, 1989, p. 33). Existing studies have demonstrated that Work family conflict is associated with burnout (e.g. Innstrand et al., 2008), which affects work performance and parenting, and is a growing problem, particularly for women employees (Jarvisalo et al., 2005). The associations between Work family conflict and burnout can be understood within the context of conservation of resources theory.Work family conflict reflects a course of action whereby work-related demands rule to a threatened, or actual loss, of personal resources, leading to stress (Grandey and Cropanzano,1999).Resource losses are then exacerbated as individuals in vest a vailable resources to prevent further losses, leading to a spiral of resource losses, and over time burnout (Hobfoll, 2001). It is then plausible that profiles characterized by higher levels of Work family conflict will experience higher burnout levels than profiles with lower Work family conflict levels. In contrast, Work family efficiency has been connected with lower levels of burnout (Innstrand et al., 2008). According to conservation of resources theory, in times of low-stress individuals seek to gain surplus resources in order to prevent or minimize future losses (Hobfoll, 2001). additionally, any gains can at the minimum slightly offset stress and potentially minimize burnout; consequently suggesting that Work family efficiency may serve as a buffer against the negative effects of Work family conflict. It is then plausible that individuals with high Work family efficiency may not experience the effects of Work family conflict to the same extent as those with low Work family efficiency.

8. Findings & Recommendation


Job burnout is highly related with the factor emotional exhaustion. The relation between work family conflict, intention to leave organization and job burnout is also positive. If job burnout level is decreases then the work family conflict and intention to leave organization level will be increases.


The importance of identifying the most important factors in workers’ burnout, and of designing an effective questionnaire to ascertain the level and kind of burnout in individual workers, is crucial if management is to be able to implement appropriate strategies of prevention and/or alleviation of stressful situations, or provide useful help to valuable workers, once burnout has occurred. by correct application of such testing, managers can reduce job turnover and the disruption that it causes. Job burnout is highly related to factor emotional exhaustion, organization may take some policy to motivated employees for reduce job burnout. If employee able to reduce their job burnout then job satisfaction and job involvement may also increases.

9. Conclusion

Employees’ burnout has already been identified as influencing productivity, motivation, intention to leave a job, work family conflict etc. However, burnout is a complicate occurrence and difficult to measure. In this article, three burnout dimensions measures were suggested and utilized to estimate their prediction strength of a worker’s intention to leave a job. High work family conflict was associated with high personal and work burnout, and high work family efficiency was associated low-personal burnout and work burnout. Finally the inverse relationships between work family efficiency and personal burnout. The possible stressors identified by the study are workload, long working hours, technological problems at work, inadequate salary, and without of abundant time for family and job worries at home. The study also revealed that these stresses are leading to physical and psychological burnout of employees.

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