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Feeling Obligated to Stay in Job Leads to Burnout

Feeling Obligated to Stay in Job Leads to BurnoutStaying in your job out of a sense of obligation or for lack of alternatives can lead to emotional exhaustion, according to new research.

The new research, from scientists at Concordia University, the Université de Montréal and HEC Montréal, found that people who stay in their jobs because they feel an obligation towards their employer are more likely to experience burnout.

The same applies when employees stay because they don’t see employment alternatives outside their company.

“Our study examined whether some forms of commitment to an organization could have detrimental effects, such as emotional exhaustion and, eventually, turnover,” says co-author Alexandra Panaccio, an assistant professor in the Department of Management at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.

When employees stay because they feel that they have no other options, they are “more likely to experience emotional exhaustion,” she said. She suggests employers work to minimize this “lack of alternatives” type of commitment by developing employees’ competencies. This increases their feeling of mobility which, paradoxically, contributes to them wanting to stay with the organization, she said.

The researchers also found that people with high self-esteem are most affected by a perceived lack of employment alternatives — possibly because that perception is inconsistent with their self-view as important and competent people.

Panaccio and her colleagues surveyed 260 workers from various industries, including information technology, health services, engineering and architecture. Participants were, on average, 34 years old; 33 percent held managerial positions, while 50 percent worked in the public sector.

The research team measured various types of organizational commitments, such as whether employees identified with a company’s goals and values and whether they felt an obligation to stay.

“It may be that, in the absence of an emotional bond with the organization, commitment based on obligation is experienced as a kind of indebtedness — a loss of autonomy that is emotionally draining over time,” says Panaccio.

Source: Concordia University

Feeling Obligated to Stay in Job Leads to Burnout

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Feeling Obligated to Stay in Job Leads to Burnout. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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