Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Staff Paper BSHS/462- Effective Management of Human Service Organizations August 8, 2011 Kimberly Eaton Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Staff Paper According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (2011) burnout is defined as the “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”. In high stressed work environments, an employee can feel burnout. This is especially true for human services providers because they are consistently working with the public.
The following paragraphs will explore factors that cause burnout, and how to prevent burnout. The following paragraphs will also explore how I react and respond to personal and work-related stress, how I can reduce the effects of burnout, and how I can assist staff burnout. Factors That Causes Burnout Burnout can be cause by individual, cultural, organizational, supervisory, and social support factors. Individual factors can include a person’s personality type, and/or his or hers work related goals.
If a person sets unrealistic work related goals, such as, thinking that they can save every child from abuse, that person will become burned out quickly. Also sometimes a person’s personality type will not fit well with their career choice in human services. A cultural factor that could lead to an employee to become burned out is if the organization polices are against the employee’s cultural beliefs. Sometimes in the human services field, an employee will have to choose between their career and their culture. If this is an ongoing battle for the employee, the employee will become burned out.
According to Lewis, Lewis, and Packard (2007) some organizational factors that could lead to an employee to become burned out are, “lack of feedback, large amount of conflict, no trust, overload, and has a job with low motivating potential”. When an employee is working for an organization and they feel that they do not have the support of the organization, this could lead to burn out at well. Supervisory and social support factors that could lead to an employee to become burned out are feeling that the supervisory trusts them, and co-workers relationships.
Work relationships are very important for an employee to not become burned out. Prevention To prevent burnout, an individual should learn how to keep work life at work, and home life at home. Too often do people take their work home with them, and take their home to work. This can cause the individual to become stressed and then burned out. Also when an individual is starting to feel stressed and burned out, they should talk to their supervisor to see if they can help. To prevent burnout, a human services organization should be flexible.
The organization should allow their employees, if possible, to flex their time, lower the caseloads, and assigned varied types of clients to all of the employees (Lewis, Lewis, & Packard, 2007). By doing these three things, an organization can help their employees to not become extremely stressed or start feeling burned out. At Rock County Child Protective Services (CPS), they allow their social workers to flex their time. A social worker can work four ten hour days, and then have a day off during the week. This helps the stress level of the employee because it breaks up their work week.
How I Reduce Stress and Prevent Burnout I think that I handle personal and work-related stress very well. I like to leave personal stress at home and work-related stress at work, but sometimes it is hard to do. I believe that I do not have too much personal stress. I do not have any children right now, and it is only my boyfriend, our dog, and I that live in our house. The only thing I would say that I stress about is money. I do not like living from paycheck to paycheck, but I just keep telling myself, I am only 25 and in a good position at work to move up. That in the future I will be ok.
As for work-related stress, I have plenty of that. The way I handle work-related stress, is by taking breaks all throughout the day. My work allows us to break up our two 15 minute breaks, any way we want. So every hour before and after lunch I go outside sit in my car and clear my mind. I would have to say, this works about 95% of the time. As for the other 5% of the time, I have co-workers that I can complain to, and they help me with whatever I am going through. If neither one of these things work out to help my stress level, I will just take a mental health day to clear my mind.
I haven’t had enough work experience to feel the effects of burnout yet. I just started my career in human services, and so far I love it. I have always wanted to work in human services, and I know what to expect. I just need to keep doing what I am doing. Human Services Managers and Burnout As a human service manager it is very important to be alert and ready to assist with staff burnout. When I become a human service manager, I will be respectful to my staff. My staff will be able to trust me and be able to speak to me about their stresses.
I will try to have monthly meetings with my staff, to find out any problem areas that I need to address. I will continually look for new ideas to help reduce my staff stress levels and to prevent burnout. If they need to flex their time, and the organization allows it, I will allow it. If for some reason the organization does not allow it, I will try to find a way to change it. Conclusion Working in the field of human services is very stressful and a worker can become burned out. As a human service manager, it is important to understand how a worker can become burned out, and how to prevent it from happening.
I feel that I handled personal and work-related stress very well. Sometimes it is hard to keep home life at home and work life at work, but it can be done. What do you have to do as a human service manager to be alert and ready to assist with staff burnout? References: Burnout. ( 2011). In Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary Unabridged. Retrieved on August 8, 2011, from http://www. mwu. eb. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/mwu Lewis, J. A. , Lewis, M. D. , & Packard, T. (2007). Management of Human Service Programs. Retrieved from BSHS 462- The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database..