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Study: Avoiding Burnout and Understanding Job Satisfaction

Everyone knows the feeling of burnout. Whether your first experience with it was in school, at work, or elsewhere, it doesn’t take much time to understand the power of this long-term emotional stressor.

Employees experiencing burnout are unproductive, inefficient, and generally unhappy. And when even just a few employees are suffering from it, they can cause a chain reaction in which others get sucked in as well.

work_stress_burnout

Unfortunately, there’s no easy, plug-and-play solution to banish burnout from the workplace. However, employees and supervisors can both play a role in reducing it in their offices.

To get a better look at what factors contribute to burnout and overall job satisfaction, we conducted a brief survey of 200 members of the U.S. Workforce (See final paragraph for survey specifics). The data we gathered both confirmed some longstanding hunches and uncovered some revealing new correlations.

Results are presented in annotated crosstab tables. To interpret crosstabs, simply observe the variables represented in the left and top sides of the chart and read across into each individual cell to see a percentage representing respondents that answered affirmatively to both variables. Stronger correlations are indicated by darker shades and vice versa. For a more in-depth explanation of crosstabs click here.

Self-employed Workers are Less Burnt Out

On the whole, freelancers and other members of the self-employed workforce are stigmatized as desperate and stressed individuals who are constantly struggling to make ends meet. Although there is some truth to the challenge of leading a self-employed lifestyle, our data suggests that the cost must be worth the reward.

We found a notable relationship between self-employment and lower levels of burnout. In fact, almost 15% more self-employed respondents indicated zero burnout than traditional full-time respondents. Even more surprising, fewer traditional part-time respondents indicated zero burnout than traditional full-time respondents.

employment_burnout

Var 1: How burnt out would you say you feel in your current position?

Var 2: What best describes your current employment status?

Taking Control and Working Autonomously Negates Burnout

Nobody likes to be told what to do. That’s no surprise. Consequently, the inverse is true as well. Everybody likes not being told what to do.

The data shows that as employees gain more control and autonomy in their positions, job satisfaction rises in tandem. There is a strong statistically significant relationship between job satisfaction and levels of control and autonomy at work.

control_satisfaction

Var 1: How satisfied are you with your current job?

Var 2: How much control and autonomy do you feel you have in your current position?

Vacation Time Might Not be as Crucial as We Thought

No matter how satisfied you are with your position, having a week or so away from the daily grind is truly refreshing. There’s no arguing with that.

However, vacations might not be as effective at negating burnout as many would think. According to the data, levels of burnout in our respondents bore no relationship to how long ago they took their last vacation (Defined as 3 or more days away from work).

vacation_satisfaction

Var 1: How satisfied are you with your current job?

Var 2: How long ago was your last vacation (3 or more days off from work)?

Listen up, Management: Acknowledging and Rewarding Hard Work Blocks Burnout

Have you ever had to serve the general public? Perhaps at a restaurant, retail store, or other such establishment? If so, it was probably during one of the first jobs you ever had, and, chances are, it wasn’t all that pleasant. But what is it about these kinds of jobs that make them so easy to hate? They’re thankless.

One of the biggest sources of burnout is lack of appreciation. Even if a job isn’t fun, glamorous, or exciting, a simple “thank you” goes an awful long way to making it more bearable. What’s more, employees should be rewarded for their efforts. If they feel that they’ll be treated the same way whether they succeed or not, they’ll care little about working hard.

The data reflected this notion pretty clearly. 66% of respondents who said they were “Totally satisfied” with their job also strongly agreed that management within their organization recognizes and rewards strong job performance.

recognition_satisfaction

Var 1: How satisfied are you with your current job?

Var 2: Would you agree with the following statement? “Management within my organization recognizes and rewards strong job performance.”

Most Workers Don’t Sweat the Commute

From our own personal experience, we formed a hypothesis that longer commutes would be correlated with more burnout and less job satisfaction. It stands to reason that the elements of a longer commute – waking up earlier, spending more time in traffic, returning home later, and so on – would contribute to job burnout and dissatisfaction.

But surprisingly, our hypothesis was proven totally false. The length of respondents commutes was shown to have no statistically significant relationship with either job satisfaction or burnout.

However, it’s worth noting that the sample didn’t include a large number of workers with commutes over 60 minutes – the time frame where we would hope to see the strongest correlation. Had we surveyed more participants with commutes in that category, we may have been able to draw a more meaningful conclusion.

For now, it’s safe to assume that workers avoid extra long commutes and therefore dodge the burnout risks associated with them altogether.

Screenshot 2014-09-02 16.10.58 Screenshot 2014-09-02 16.11.45

Survey Notes

Data was collected from 200 members of the U.S. Workforce (113 full-time, 50 part-time, and 40 self-employed) via an online survey created and distributed using Survata. In order to preserve data integrity, respondents were not compensated for their participation and information regarding the sponsoring company and survey objective was not disclosed.

The survey was evaluated with a confidence interval of 95% and, due to sample size, had a margin of error equal to 6.9%.

Photo by Giuseppe Savo

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