Occupational Burnout - An Organizational Challenge & Managerial Responsibility : A qualitative study on leadership and managerial factors’ impact on burnout. Case study conducted on four compulsory schools in Sweden.

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Abstract Background Occupational Burnout is one of the greatest challenges affecting the labour markets today. It is mainly caused by prolonged stress exposure due to the psychosocial work environment and is nowadays the fastest growing cause of long-term sick leave in Sweden. It therefor affects both the society, organisation and individual. It is thus a managerial concern to manage and structure the organisations in a sustainable way that maximises the use of human resources, rather than burning them out.    Purpose The aim of the thesis is to investigate the high level of sick-leave or burnout due to organisational and managerial factors in the Swedish educational sector, by focusing on the role leadership, organisational and psychosocial work environment plays in preventing/causing employees’ burnout. The authors attempt to contribute knowledge on why theory may not match reality in this case, as statistics of sickleave due to stressrelated illness remains high. Methods In this qualitative study principals, administrators, and teachers of four public compulsory schools in Jönköping and Öckerö are interviewed. Using semi-structured interviews, data is gathered, coded and analysed in relation to modern research literature on the topic of burnout as well as Swedish Work Environment Authority guidelines, to spot key elements of positive and negative factors which have affected the stress situations of the schools’ employees. Several factors from organizational and leadership perspective are examined to assist organizations to avoid or prevent burnout.   Results Prevalence of high burnout rates in schools in the cases studied, was associated with recent large reorganization of employees and administration; weak and inefficient leadership which did not strive to build relationships and open communication with teachers; low integration between sectors and working groups; lack of support and monitoring of stressed employees; low ability of employees to contribute to their workplace environments; the shortage of budgets issued by municipality.   Conclusions 1.The reason sick leave related to stress and burnout is high in the cases studied, is that implementation of research and policy guidelines is lacking behind in schools which suffer from employee stress related issues. As well as the current management model of the public sector may not benefit to prevent employee burnout.   2. It is possible to avoid employee burnout through adjusting the management and organizational structure, as adaptations toward dealing with employees’ stress are showing a positive sign on preventing the development of burnout.

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