The purpose of this research was to investigate the nature of the stress experienced by professionals in a government Human Services organization. Burnout and psychological well-being in the workplace were examined, as were the moderating effects of organizational supports, feedback and career control, and satisfaction with opportunities for career advancement.
Questionnaire data was collected from 51 Human Services professionals. The structured/ self-administered questionnaire included demographic items, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (with emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment sub-scales), the General Health Questionnaire, and a Work Quality Questionnaire devised for the present research. The Work Quality items were designed to elicit responses on the amount of "control" experienced at the workplace.
The results of the study indicated that the professionals surveyed reported moderate levels of burnout emotional exhaustion and depersonalization) and diminished psychological well-being. Personal accomplishment was moderately high and may serve to moderate stress and burnout. Organizational support and feedback appeared to function as moderating variables. Analysis also showed that diminished psychological well-being and emotional exhaustion were strongly linked to difficulties in coping with work problems; feelings of a lack of control over performance and the organization of work, and a lack of control over professional decision-making. Diminished psychological well-being was also linked to feelings of a lack of control over career advancement and dissatisfaction with opportunities for career advancement. Emotional exhaustion was linked to a lack of control and work pressure.
The findings have important implications with regard to the management of Human Resources in this particular organization and the nature of Human Services work.