Keeping the Flame Alive

Keeping the Flame Alive How to fight job burnout by Colleen Malloy I f a root canal sounds more appealing to you than a day on the job you may be suffering from burnout. Right now you may be thinking, I love my job, this could never...


A lack of resources contributes heavily to feelings of inefficacy and many people stop giving their all as a result. After all, why bother trying if your best isn’t good enough?

Are you stressed out?
In a recent survey we asked our readers some questions about stressors at work. Here are some of the results:

The good news:
• 71 percent of those surveyed don’t fear losing their jobs
• 64 percent of those surveyed don’t lose sleep over work worries
• 76 percent of those surveyed feel they have the tools and training to complete the work required

The bad news:
• 64 percent of those surveyed feel they must work if they are sick or injured
• 86 percent of those surveyed regularly skip lunches and breaks
• 78 percent of those surveyed feel they give more than they get in return
• 71 percent surveyed said that they frequently experience conflicting demands

Job compatibility

It may not be your field of work that’s burning you out, it could in fact be your working environment that is wearing you down.

In a recent study on job burnout Christina Maslach, Wilmar Schaufeli, and Michael Leiter look at six different factors of job compatibility that can lead to job burnout. They reasoned that the more a person’s expectations in each of these areas differed from their working environment the more likely burnout would occur.The six factors of job compatibility are:

• Workload
• Control
• Reward
• Community
• Fairness
• Values

The first of the six factors, workload, is in many cases related to exhaustion. Excessive workloads are the most common case of workload incompatibility, but in some cases a workload mismatch could result from the wrong kind of work. If you are underqualified or overqualified for the job you are less likely to feel satisfied with the workload. Though probably not an issue for the average AMT, not having enough work can also serve as a major stressor for some people who feel pressured to look busy.

The control factor is related to inefficacy. If you lack the resources and authority to do your job to the best of your ability it is quite likely you may be struggling with control issues.

Reward, the third job compatibility factor, can be related to both financial rewards and social awards. Lack of recognition, whether in the form of a plump paycheck or a pat on the back can lead to feelings of resentment and inferiority.

Most of us tend to do our best work in a workplace in which we feel comfortable, happy, and respected. Hostility, frustration, and disputes in the workplace break down this sense of community. Without this community there is no support system to promote shared goals and values. No group of coworkers is like one big happy sitcom family, in fact, many times the interactions between coworkers tend to more closely resemble daytime soap operas. Each person can handle certain levels of tension and animosity within the workplace, but when your needs for social support and interaction are not met you become susceptable to burnout.

Fairness is as important to us as adults as it was when mom was doling out goodies after dinner. No matter how well we are doing, we want to make sure that the guy next door isn’t getting a jump on that next promotion just because he’s on the boss’ softball team. Inequities in workload, pay, and praise can be upsetting and those upset feelings can lead to cynicism.

Mismatching values can also lead to cynicism and conflict. If asked to cut corners to get an aircraft out the door on schedule you may face a moral dilemma. These types of moral conflicts can cause you to question your employer’s ethics and compromise your own.

All six of these factors, either alone or in combination can lead to burnout.

Dealing with burnout

People suffering from burnout tend to deal with stress in passive and defensive ways. They often withdraw from job responsibilities leading to increased absenteeism, lower productivity and effectiveness, decreased job satisfaction, and reduced commitment to the employer.

An obvious solution to job burnout would be to quit your job, but who’s to say you wouldn’t be just as unhappy somewhere else?

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