ORGANIZATIONAL REASONS THAT CAUSE PROFESSIONAL BURNOUT SYNDROME IN SOCIAL WORKERS

Vida Gudžinskienė, Andrejus Pozdniakovas

Abstract


This article presents theoretical organizational aspects that cause professional burnout syndrome by highlighting how work organization can be a factor that causes or prevents professional burnout syndrome. It reveals how organizational culture is associated with overcoming professional burnout syndrome. Organizational assumptions relating to professional burnout involve work resources, management, and the professional environment. Organizational factors include profession, type of work, working hours, the existence of conditions for optimal performance, clarity of work content, social support, as sistance at work, leadership style, support for motivation, regulation of communication with colleagues and clients, optimal workload, employees’ commitment to an organization, and career opportunities, amongst others. The research object of this paper is: professional burnout syndrome, and overcoming it in the context of the organization. Specifically, the research question is: What are the organizational factors that help social workers employed in community rehabilitation centres to overcome professional burnout? The aim of this article is to reveal organizational factors that cause professional burnout syndrome in social workers employed in the community rehabilitation centre, alongside an analysis of overcoming and preventing it in the context of the organization. This involves two tasks: 1) to present organizational factors that cause professional burnout syndrome; and 2) based on the experiences of social workers, to reveal organizational factors that cause professional burnout syndrome in social workers employed in the community rehabilitation centre.
The research methods of this paper are academic literature analysis and document analysis, and a qualitative research type was chosen for the study. In the study, the method of quality (content) analysis of semi-structured interviews was used, with the summarizing method. A criteria-based sample was used in the study. Participants (social workers) were chosen according to the following criteria – social workers who: 1) have a degree in the area of social work; 2) are engaged in social work with persons addicted to psychoactive substances (alcohol, drugs); 3) have less than 2 years of work experience with persons addicted to psychoactive substances (addicted to alcohol, drugs); and 4) are employed in a community rehabilitation centre for addictive diseases.
The study was conducted between January and March of 2020 in community rehabilitation centres for addictive diseases. In total, 7 social workers participated in the study, and each interview lasted between 50 and 140 minutes.
The data obtained were analyzed using the content analysis method. Qualitative content analysis was performed in the sequence following Creswell (2013): the content of the transcribed interview texts was established; the meaning elements in the analysed text were identified; the distinguished meaning elements were grouped into categories and sub-categories; the categories/sub-categories were integrated into the context of the phenomenon analysed; and their analysis was then described (Creswell, 2013).
To ensure the good ethics of the research, the personal permission of the informants to take part was sought. The researchers obliged themselves not to divulge information related to the organisation or the informant, and the principles of anonymity, volunteerism, and benevolence were followed (Creswell, 2013). The social workers were acquainted with the goal of the research, the interview questions, and the importance of a reasoned reflection on their experience. Names, surnames, locations, and other similar information that might help identify research participants and/or identify the subject, were changed. The names of the informants were coded (A, B, C...) to break the link between research data and the informant who provided the data, in order to maintain anonymity and for the research results to remain separate from the informants. The research was presented by interpreting and substantiating theory with information, statements, and quotations obtained during the interviews. The quotations of the research participants are authentic, and their language was not corrected. Pauses and the drawling of vowels and some consonants are marked in the transcription. The meaning of the characters used is as follows: ~ = pause; * = unfinished word or syllable.
Empirical research has shown that social workers employed in community rehabilitation centres are affected by three groups of organizational factors that help them to overcome professional burnout syndrome: interpersonal causes related to the development of professional burnout syndrome; the help and support of colleagues in overcoming professional burnout syndrome; and the behaviour of the administration related to overcoming professional burnout syndrome. Human resources play an important role in the development of professional burnout syndrome while performing social work with people addicted to psychoactive substances. The risk of professional burnout depends on whether the organization has a full team, in which specialists are qualified employees with experience in working with persons addicted to psychoactive substances, as well as experience in teamwork. According to social workers, lack of employees, intensity of workload, increase in responsibilities, and confusion due to the uncertain distribution of work cause the development of professional burnout syndrome. Interpersonal causes that lead to the development of professional burnout syndrome are closely related to the negative attitude of clients towards social workers, and clients’ negative culture of communication in regard to workers. The moral and emotional support of colleagues serve as prevention from professional burnout. This research revealed that the moral support of colleagues helps the research participants to calm down and reduce stress, i.e., creates preconditions for the prevention of professional burnout and facilitates the reduction of professional burnout syndrome in the early stages. The support of colleagues in crisis situations by helping to perform necessary work significantly reduces the risk of fatigue or stress, and helps maintain mental and physical health. Leisure time with colleagues, according to the social workers who participated in the research, provides an opportunity to unload physically, strengthen the interconnectivity of the team, increase work efficiency, and improve communication between colleagues. It also creates a bond of communion as well as helping to create a favourable environment for employees, which serve as preventive measures against professional burnout. Concurrently, a lack of opportunities for social workers to maintain strong interpersonal relationships with colleagues leads to competition and disagreement, which can result in the development of professional burnout syndrome in social workers employed in community rehabilitation centres.
This research also revealed that managerial communication with employees on an equal footing gave the participants of the research a sense of security, and trust expressed by managers in professionals as well as the freedom and confidence to open up as specialists enabled them to have more confidence in their competences. The advice and recommendations provided by managers helped the participants to feel that they were needed and wellvalued employees, and timely support reduced the anxiety of social workers over failures or unexpected problems. Therefore, the abovementioned manifestations of managerial behaviour serve as excellent prevention measures against professional burnout.
The trust of the head of the organization in employees, equal communication between managers and employees, and, if necessary, managerial assistance via constructive advice and recommendations, are important for the prevention of professional burnout in social workers. The negative assessment of employees’ activities is an important determining factor in increasing the risk of professional burnout in social workers employed in community rehabilitation centres. Meanwhile, the positive assessment of social support and the favourable public attitude towards social workers’ activities; the mobilization of a team of specialists; the provision of auxiliary staff or volunteers; the stabilization of remuneration for services provided; the normalization of workloads; and the clear division of tasks, responsibilities, and duties, can be factors that reduce the risk of professional burnout.


Keywords


community rehabilitation centre for addictive diseases, organizational reasons, professional burnout syndrome, social workers.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13165/SD-21-19-1-02

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