Individual therapy encounters formidable challenges in addressing burnout.

    • Burnout is a Relationship Problem. At its core burnout is a mismatch of employee expectation with the constraints, resources, & demands of a job. An individual client is only one party in that relationship.

    • Burnout is not a Psychiatric Diagnosis. To position clients for insurance coverage for treatment or to apply for disability coverage, therapists must use an accepted DSM diagnosis, that does not accurately describe the actual problem.

    • Burnout Assessment was Developed as a Workgroup Diagnosis. Having been defined as a social psychological construct with measures more suited for employee surveys, burnout lacks widely agreed upon diagnostic cutoff points.

The workshop focused on approaches that had elements of job crafting: shaping a current job to increase the compatible and fulfilling aspects of the job and diminishing it’s annoying elements. Success factors are developing strategies that build on incremental small gains and that recruit colleagues into the campaign.

It was clear from the day’s discussion that the challenges of individual treatment for burnout require intense attention.

    Burnout is a Growing Problem. Contemporary worklife has characteristics that aggravate burnout.

    Individuals Are on Their Own. Organizations are less inclined to take effective action to combat burnout.

    Treatment Can Help. Individuals in distress gain meaningful support from individual coaching and therapy.

Little of the advice given to individuals to alleviate or avoid burnout has any research foundation. More work is needed to explore the possibilities for action. We intend to lead part of that search for knowledge.

Where do you see hope for banishing burnout?

Maui Sunset

Posted in Areas of Worklife, Burnout, Work Engagement, Worklife | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s never entirely the situation and it’s never entirely the person. So much of what is truly interesting lies between the person and the situation. It is the mix that determines whether things go well or go badly.

The chart shows a person quality—Attachment Anxiety—and a workgroup quality—Psychological Safety.

Attachment anxiety is the extent to which people approach the social work lacking confidence. People scoring high on this quality are exceptionally concerned with the possibility rejection or humiliation. Psychological safety is the quality of a workgroup. Groups that score high on Psychological Safety encourage open, honest expression of views; those low on this quality are intolerant of dissent or diversity of opinion.

The indicator for this graph is coworker incivility—the frequency of encountering rude or thoughtless behavior from colleagues.

Interaction psyc safe and attach anxiety

The graph make the point that a group low in psychological safety (the blue line) is a less civil place than one high in psychological safety (the orange line). However, the very problematic mix occurs for people who have a high level of attachment anxiety in a psychologically unsafe workgroup. The dot on the upper right part of the graph indicates incivility that is roughly double the rate for that of people low on anxiety in psychologically unsafe workgroups.

This pattern provides two routes to action.

    1. Team building efforts towards increasing psychological safety could reduce uncivil encounters as can intense interventions, such as CREW.

    2. Greater insight into attachment anxiety could help people manage their participation in their workgroups.

Workplace civility and respect can be improved, but there is no simple solution. A mix of approaches focusing on both the individuals and their workgroup dynamics can make a real difference.

Posted in Areas of Worklife, Civility, community, Dysfunctional Groups, Respect, safety, Workgroups | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment