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Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Service Staff

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Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Service Staff

Gilda McCarty

BSHS/462

October 08, 2012

David Worsley

Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Staff

Human services professionals work under many conditions that make them susceptible to experiencing burnout. This paper will define burnout and present some of the individual, organizational, and cultural support factors that cause human service professionals to experience burnout (Lewis, 2007). Various individual job roles and organizational methods employed to prevent burnout will also be addressed. Gilda will discuss how she reacts to reduce the effects of burnout. Lastly, Gilda will identify how she prepares to assist staff who she believes may be experiencing burnout.

Human Service Professional Burnout

Many human service professionals fall victim to employee burnout, mainly because of heavy caseloads, minimal resources, and tremendously cut budgets. These individuals may start to experience a sense of increasing emotional and physical exhaustion, hopelessness, and loss of motivation. Employees experiencing these feelings are experiencing employee burnout. Many times the employee is not aware of what is happening to him or her at the time. Burnout has three defined dimensions: Emotional Exhaustion, the feeling of being psychologically detached. Depersonalization occurs when human service workers disassociate themselves from his or her clients and may appear to be uncaring or unconcerned about the needs or issues of his or her client's. The last dimension is reduced personal accomplishment that is the dissatisfaction of one's work or accomplishments. Human service professionals who experience burnout tend to experience a decrease in his or her quality of work as well as work productivity. Employee burnout has a negative effect on all aspects of the organization abilities to functioning successfully.

Support Factors that cause Burnout

Most human service professionals start his or her career at an organization full of enthusiasm and energy ready to come to the rescue of every client (Zellmer, 2010). Human service professionals experience several obstacles when attempting to meet the needs of their clients. They soon find themselves working long hours with far more clients on their caseload than they can assist effectively. According to Zellmer (2010), human service professionals are sometimes working with outdated policies and procedures, and often times organizations fail to provide its workers with clear details about their job responsibilities and the expectations of the organization. In many organizations because of decreasing budgets, resources have become very limited. Yet, human service workers are still expected to produce the same level of services to their clients. The unrelenting demands force many workers to work through their lunches, breaks, and work after hours as well as weekends (Zellmer, 2010). Working at this demanding pace and under such stressful work conditions can lead to workers who experience burnout.

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