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Human Services

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Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Staff
Kristina M. Murkowski
University of Phoenix
BSHS/432
Melinda Barker,
May 9, 2011

Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Staff
Burnout has been seen more and more among human services staff. Many individuals in the human services field got into that type work because they enjoy helping others, but in the same breath are more likely to become emotionally involved and there for suffer burnout more then those who can separate personal feelings and work. This paper discusses what burnout really is based on the description given by Maslach and Leiter. Further more, the paper goes into describing different causes of burnout and ways to prevent it. This paper also examines the writers own personality while sharing personal reactions to work-related stress. Lastly, the paper talks about be alert and assisting with potential staff burnout.
What is Burnout
Burnout is a syndrome of physical and emotional exhaustion, involving the development of negative self-concept, negative job attitudes, and a loss of concern and feelings for clients (Bbnet, 1995). Burnout spreads gradually and continuously over time, putting people into a downward spiral from which it is hard to recover; you become chronically exhausted; you become cynical and detached from your work; and you feel increasingly ineffective on the job (Maslach & Leiter, 1997).
Causes
Different industries, whether factory work, human services, health care, and so on have higher and lower rates of burnout than others. High stress and jobs that are more demanding are cause for higher rates of burnout among others. When employees feel unclear on how to perform certain tasks they lose confidence in doing what they love. Continuous change in job requirements and expectations makes a position feel impossible to master. When effort is put forth and is consistently not recognized, employees begin to feel unappreciated. When a goal is put forth but the time period is far from being adequate the stress of achieving or not achieving sets in. Poor and inconsistent leadership from supervisors or management also creates a stressful environment to work in. When employees begin to feel unappreciated, unrecognized, unfairly treated, not in control of their activities, insecure in their position, and unsure of the requirements of their jobs, the downward spiral of burnout can begin (Scott, n.d.). It is important to take preventative measures against burnout.
Prevention
It is imperative as an individual, a supervisor, a manager, or a CEO to attempt to prevent burnout for yourself and for your employees. There is a "Three R" approach to prevention of burnout; Recognize, Reverse, and Resilience (Helpguide, 2011). Recognize, and keep your eyes open for any possible warning signs that burnout could be happening. Reverse and try to undo any burnout damage by finding ways to help manage stress. Resilience, by taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally you are better able to deal with the stress factors of life. One of the biggest prevention measures is to understand what burnout is, the warning signs, and realizing that by ignoring the situation it will only make matters worse.
Work Related Stress
The writer of this paper has a personality that creates self-induced stress. Taking on to much job responsibility and allowing personal emotions to get involved with work life are a definite way to have work related stress. The important thing is that the writer has had enough experience with stress and learning to understand her own emotions that she is better able to deal with it and is able to see any self-destruction patterns before it gets out of control. Personally, the writer has used different techniques to successfully reduce work related stress. Eating healthy, exercising, taking short breaks through out the work day when things get hectic, talking to managers when goals and timelines seem out of reach are all things that help to ensure that the stress of the writer stay in check which in turn helps to reduce the effects of potential burnout.
Aiding In Staff Burnout
As a friend, a peer, a supervisor, a manager, or who ever it is important that when you see another individual who may dealing with a lot of stress or is showing signs of burnout that you attempt to help them. Investigate and respond to any reports of stress, decide if it is work-related or personal and if personal is it affecting work, discuss the information and investigation results with the individual, suggest solutions and give the individual a chance to suggest their own possible solutions, and finally agree on how to implement the solutions (The Department of Labor, n.d.). Aiding in staff burnout is not only a way to ensure that you have good, healthy, and hardworking staff, it also helps to ensure the success of the goals set forth by the organization.
Conclusion
Burnout is when an individual suffers from emotional, mental, or physical exhaustion that is caused by undue stress in their life. Stress can consume ones life leaving them feeling completely helpless, hopeless, cynical, and even resentful. This paper has discussed what burnout is and what causes it. The paper also talks about the importance of prevention and measures that can and should be taken in order to prevent burnout. The writer of the paper goes on to discuss personal dealings with stress in the workplace and gives multiple examples of how she was able to overcome and now prevent undue stress and burnout. Lastly, the paper covers the importance of aiding in staff burnout and ways that someone can help another individual who might be suffering the effects of stress, whether it be a friend, a supervisor, or a manager. Remember that stress and burnout can be controlled as long as you deal with the problem head on. Do not run away and hide from problems because they will not go away.
References
Bbnet. (1995). Cbs interactive business network. Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0825/is_n1_v61/ai_16955911/
Helpguide.org. (2011). Preventing burnout. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/burnout_signs_symptoms.html
Maslach and Leiter. (2007). The truth about burnout. Jossey-Bass Publishers
Scott, E. (n.d.). About.com. Retrieved from http://stress.about.com/od/burnout/a/job_burnout.html
The Department of Labor. (n.d.) Reactive responses to reports of stress. Retrieved from http://www.osh.dol.govt.nz/publications/booklets/stress-tools2008/reacting-to-reports.asp

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