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Study Details Three Kinds of Job Burnout

Study Details Three Kinds of Job Burnout A new European study of risk factors associated with different types of burnout provides insight, and perhaps guidance, on how to avoid this career roadblock.

The first finding is a universal concern — chronic workplace stress and the perception of lack of recognition at work creates a breeding ground for burnout syndrome.

“This condition is increasing in prevalence in Spain and poses a serious problem to society because of the economic losses it causes and its consequences for health,” said psychologist Jesús Montero-Marín, lead author of the study.

During the study of 409 employees working at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, researchers created three profiles depending on the features of the syndrome displayed — “frenetic,” “under-challenged” and “worn out.” Work tasks evaluated included administrative, services, teaching and research staff and interns.

“The ‘frenetic’ profile is associated with the number of hours worked,” said Montero-Marín. A person who spends more than 40 hours per week working is six times more likely to develop the syndrome than a person working less than 35 hours.

These kinds of employees are usually heavily involved in their role, are very ambitious and have a large task overload.

A worker who does monotonous tasks, with a tendency to get bored and a lack of personal development opportunities, is more at risk of developing the “under-challenged” profile. Administrative and services staff are almost three times more likely to fall within this group than teaching and research staff.

An interesting finding is that this profile is also a primarily masculine profile. “While men tend to distance themselves from the company’s objectives, women are more likely to develop emotional exhaustion,” said Montero-Marín.

The “worn out” profile, meanwhile, tends to appear among people with a long history in the same job. These individuals may end up ignoring their responsibilities due to the lack of recognition they perceive in their environment.

As an example, a worker with more than 16 years’ service in the same place of work is five times more at risk of developing this profile than another worker with a service record of less than four years.

Given the difficult economic times, the frenetic classification is an increasing explanation for burnout as people are holding down multiple jobs. However, burnout is burnout as researchers determined that regardless of the profile, workers will experience emotional exhaustion, cynicism or lack of efficacy at work.

Work relationship also played a role in burnout as investigators learned the type of contract a person is employed on also impacts on whether they will develop burnout.

Employees on temporary contracts are more involved with the company, because they seek to form connections that will give them greater stability. This attitude may result in them developing a ‘frenetic’ profile, which is also the case with people on half-day contracts, “who probably have multiple jobs,” said Montero-Marín.

Not surprising is the discovery that an individual’s social environment can act as a counterweight to burnout.

“Having a family, partner or children can act as a protective ‘cushion’, because when people finish their day at work they leave their workplace worries behind them and focus on other kinds of tasks,” he said.

An interesting finding was the association between academic background and burnout. People at the two opposite ends of the scale suffer most from burnout — those who have had little training and those with the highest levels of education.

This can be explained because people with little education usually take jobs that require fewer qualifications, and in which they receive little recognition. However, Ph.D.s with long careers also end up burnt out, because they “feel they are investing more in the job than they get in return,” says Montero-Marín.

The study is published in BMC Psychiatry.

Source: Plataforma SINC

Study Details Three Kinds of Job Burnout

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Study Details Three Kinds of Job Burnout. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 29 Jun 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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