Scholarly article on topic 'Burnout and Flow with Moderating Effect of Individualism / Collectivism. A Study in Malaysian Hotel Industry'

Burnout and Flow with Moderating Effect of Individualism / Collectivism. A Study in Malaysian Hotel Industry Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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{Burnout / flow / "hotel employees" / "individualism – collectivism" / moderating}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Mark Kasa, Zaiton Hassan

Abstract Hotel employees often experience burnout and this phenomena could negatively impact either the employees or employers. The objective of this paper is to explore burnout and its relationship with flow with socio-cultural factors as the moderator. A cross-sectional study, utilizing 317 hotel employees in Kuching, Sarawak was analyzed via AMOS version 21. It was found that burnout correlated with flow and individualism/collectivism factors was not as moderating factor. The results suggest a starting point to shift the burnout phenomena as a favourable stage in improving flow experience.

Academic research paper on topic "Burnout and Flow with Moderating Effect of Individualism / Collectivism. A Study in Malaysian Hotel Industry"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 219 (2016) 416 - 423

3rd Global Conference on Business and Social Science-2015, GCBSS-2015, 16-17 December

2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Burnout and Flow with moderating effect of individualism / collectivism. A Study in Malaysian Hotel Industry.

Mark Kasaa*, Zaiton Hassanb

aUCSI University Sarawak Campus, Lot 2498, Jalan Tun Jugah, 93350, Kuching, Sarawak. bUniversity Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, 94300, Sarawak, Malaysia


Hotel employees often experience burnout and this phenomena could negatively impact either the employees or employers. The objective of this paper is to explore burnout and its relationship with flow with socio-cultural factors as the moderator. A cross-sectional study, utilizing 317 hotel employees in Kuching, Sarawak was analyzed via AMOS version 21. It was found that burnout correlated with flow and individualism/collectivism factors was not as moderating factor. The results suggest a starting point to shift the burnout phenomena as a favourable stage in improving flow experience.

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).


Keywords: Burnout; flow; hotel employees; individualism - collectivism; moderating

1. Introduction

Hotel employees often experience burnout due to too much work, being unappreciated, underpaid and have unrealistic working hours (Nelson & Burke, 2000). Moreover, career in hotel industry is challenging and the nature of hotel jobs might give high level of stress and may create many problems for the employees (Sia, 2001). This phenomena could negatively impact either the hotel employees or employers, both on the financial or productivity

* Corresponding author. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of the 3rd GCBSS-2015 doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.05.063

level. Nevertheless, the hotel industry needs to better ever ready to shift toward service climate which is the main concentration is directed toward delivering positive experience in service quality and customer satisfaction (Schneider et al., 2000). Hence, the extreme lack of literature on burnout impact on flow experience moderated with socio-cultural factor in the eastern context would be necessary to conduct this present study.

Flow is the state whereby the individual are in deep concentration in the work activities on what the person is doing at the present moment for their own sake rather than for extrinsic rewards (Bakker, 2005). Flow is reflected in the involvement with intrinsically motivating activity (Nakamura & Csikszentmihayi, 2005) that could benefit the employees as well as enhancing the organizational outcomes (Engeser & Rheinberg, 2008). Flow is proven to positively correlate with performance enhancement in various fields of works (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Jackson, Thomas, Marsh & Smethurst, 2002). However, flow experience is relatively a new construct (Bakker 2005; Demerouti, 2006) and the result will be useful to add into many other literatures on burnout and flow in eastern context.

There are few issues for the necessity of this study, mainly is due to the shortage of study on flow conducted in Asia (with exception of: Chen et al., (2010) in Taiwan; Moneta (2004) in China; Soltani et al., (2011) in West Malaysia and Paulus (2012) in Indonesia) and there are very limited study conducted in the subject of antecedent to flow in hotel industry in Sarawak, Malaysia. The second issue, is about context and setting as recent studies revealed that researches conducted in the area of work and psychological experience is less advanced in Eastern countries (Burke, 2010). Hence, the issue of differences in culture population would have different set of mind (Hofstede, 1980) and the need for this present study is necessary to analyze the differences between eastern and western context.

This study utilized the conservation of resources (COR) theory as the underpinning theory; suggested individual lose resources when they encounter stress (Hobfoll, 1989). Burnout is derives under high demand and low resources (Demerouti, et al., 2001). These phenomena may cause in loss in energy as well as motivation. In contrast, when individual experience flow, they are actively engaged in their environment to obtain positive reinforcement toward creation and maintenance of self-esteem, engagement and motivation which will ultimately avoid loses of resources (Hobfoll, 1989). Hence, this research distinctively examined the relationship of burnout and flow and secondly; the moderating effect of socio-cultural factors between burnout and flow. On the basis of the conservation of resources (COR) theory, a negative work situation could threaten resources such as psychological work-related well-being, health condition and other domains of life. Individuals who are motivated to retain, obtain or foster and even protect the resources that they deeply value and try to work toward in preventing the resources from losses (Westman et al., 2004). Based on finding by Demerouti, et al., (2001), if losses of resources occur the stress level will increase and may cause burnouts which could lead to energy loss and lack of motivation. Thus, the findings of this study are in agreement with COR theory as the underpinning theory.

2. Literature Review and Hypotheses

Flow and Burnout

The key issue toward service climate is the human resources aspect, as most hotels seeking to enhance job performance among their employees toward maximizing productivity, efficiently and effectively. This is because the nature of hotel jobs may give high level of stress and may create many problems for peoples (Sia, 2001). Thus, the main focus of service climate in the hotel industry is lacking the enhancement with positive psychological capacities, which is necessary (Schneider et al., 2000).

Burnout may contribute to undesirable outcomes (Sia, 2001). Burnout refers to the end state of a long term process of resource loss that gradually develops over time energetic resources depletion such as their valuable physical, emotional, and cognitive energies (Gorgievski & Hobfoll, 2008) and may contribute to negative outcomes for employees (Kahn et al., 2006). On the contrary, flow experience is the synergy between the mind and body toward desirable outcomes (Bakker, 2008). Flow refers to a holistic sensation state of mind that employee feel while doing the tasks with total concentration (Bakker, 2005). A study revealed that a person experiencing flow will be better in work performance because flow is highly functional state, thus one could feel in total concentration and intrinsically motivated in completion of the task (Engeser & Rheinberg, 2008).

Past studies revealed flow experience to be useful in the context of workplace (Bakker, 2005) and frequent flow phenomena occurred among employees would lead to higher productivity, innovation as well as employee

development (Csikszentmihalyi, 2003). Although burnout and flow are on opposite poles, empirical review revealed that they are negatively correlated (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). Thus, we hypothesized that:

HI Burnout is related to flow.

Socio-Cultural Factor (Individualism/Collectivism) as Moderator

Culture is an important element in our lives and culture is often taken for granted. Our conduct, perception, and action performed daily are the results of what we have learned when we grew up in particular environment. As mentioned by Hofstede (1980), culture is a collective programming the human mind, which differentiates their group members from another group, and this study is unique and needed. Hence, different cultural populations would have different set of minds. Almost all the empirical data available in this field of research had been mostly generated in the Western context and extreme lacking sources from the Asian perspective, while the findings were not merely well explained to the Malaysian context. Thus, this study would include the cultural dimension of individualism/collectivism as the moderating role because Malaysian are more toward collectivism (Hofstede, 2005).

The formation of hypotheses is based on previous studies that the investigation of cultural variables as the moderator can be the important determinate of the research finding (Gibson et al., 2009) and cultural values may have stronger effects under certain conditions than others (Kirkman et al., 2006). In addition, cultural dimension as a moderator should clearly reveal the conditions under which the cultural values are more likely to give impacts toward either positive or negative organizational outcomes (Gibson et al., 2009). As time have changed, most of the workforce in today era categorized under generation Y which become the motivation for the researcher to investigate the pattern of change or relationship between the variables. Thus, individualism/collectivism dimension is chosen as moderator because 70.7% of respondent are under the generation Y category and in addition, Malaysia's culture is more toward collectivism (Hofstede, 2005). Thus, it is relevant to investigate the moderating effect of socio-cultural factor; (individualism/collectivism) in relationship between the variables and hypothesized that:

H2 Socio-cultural factors (individualism/collectivism) moderates the relationship between burnout on flow.

3. Method

A quantitative study was utilized with self-administered questionnaires which was developed and adopted from past studies. Non-probability purposive sampling was used because the objective was to sample full-time hotel employees in Kuching, Sarawak hotels registered under the Malaysian Association of Hotels (Sarawak Chapter). A pilot study was conducted to ensure the reliability of the instruments and eliminate potential errors or ambiguities (Ruyter, Wetzels and Kleijnen, 2001). 500 questionnaires issued out to the population sample based on prior approval given by the each hotel's human resources manager. All measures were bilingual (English and Bahasa Melayu). The minimum sample for the research was 107 respondents, as calculated using G*power (with the 2 indicators and output of parameter of actual power was 0.95). A total of 317 questionnaires were returned in a month time from 3 reputable hotels in Kuching, Sarawak.

A total of 317 valid usable questionnaires collected represented 63.4% is considered as sufficient sample size for the purposed of confirmatory factor analysis and structural model testing (Byrne, 2001 & Hair et al., 2010). There were 166 (52.4%) female and 151 (47.6%) male employees while the majority of respondent's age ranges between 18-29 years old with a total of 224 (70.7%). Iban ethnicity was the majority and represented 108 (34%) and a total of 160 (50.5%) have qualification in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. The majority of the respondents were single at 160 (54%) while the length of service range between 1 to 3 years represented 192 (60.6%) from the total respondents in this study.

3.1 Research Instrument

Flow was measured using work-related flow instrument (WOLF; Bakker, 2008) which consisted ofl3 items. The respondents were required to indicate how often they experience each items during preceding week (0 = never, 6 =

everyday). Burnout was measured by adapting the 16 items of Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI), developed by Demerouti, Mostert, and Bakker, (2010). All items were scored on a 6-points scale, ranging from (1) "Strongly Disagree" to (6) "Strongly Agree". OLBI is a reasonable alternative that can be used to assess burnout simultaneously (Demerouti, Mostert, & Bakker, 2010). Socio-cultural dimension (individualistic-collectivist) was measured via 16 items Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism Questionnaire developed by Triandis & Gelfand, (1998) on a 6-points scale that had a responsiveness range from (1) "Strongly Disagree" to (6) "Strongly Agree". The reliability (a) value for flow, burnout and individualist-collectivist dimension was 0.926, 0.790 and 0.867 in order.

4. Data Analysis

This present study utilized SPSS statistic and Structural Equation Modeling AMOS version 22 software to conduct the data analysis. Prior to the testing using AMOS, all valid data were assessed with univariate and multivariate normality and outlier; no major issues with regard to normality and outlier data. SEM AMOS approach specifically requires for the two-stage approach to minimize the changes and to avoid any interaction between the measurement and structural models. In the first stage; to build and testing for unidimensionality of the measuring items have acceptable factor loading for each construct involved, validity as well as reliability of the measurement model and secondly, building and testing a structural model involves examining the relationship between the latent construct (Hair et al., 2006).

4.1 Measurement Model

To assess the measurement model, all constructs involved in this study are required to meet the unidimensionality, validity and reliability. All valid questionnaires were screened for normality testing; the skewness and kurtosis values of the questionnaires items were all within the normal range and at acceptable index of Skewness between -2 to +2 (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007) while Kurtosis is between -7 to +7 (Byrne, 2010).

Meanwhile, to test for outlier is by dividing mahalanobis d2 by degree of freedom (number of items); for a total respond rate of more than 200, if the value above 4 is consider potential outlier (Hair et al., 2010). In this study, the value is less than 4 meaning no potential outlier was present.

The measuring items is good with the factor loading value > 0.5 after the deletion of low loading factor to ensure unidimensionality. For validity issue, each variable exceed the value of 0.5 for average variance extracted (AVE) indicating for good convergent validity (Hair et al., 2010); 0.765, 0.543 and 0.517 for Burnout, Flow and Socio-Cultural factor respectively. All fitness indexes (Absolute fit, Incremental fit, and Parsimonious fit) met the requirement for construct validity. Lastly, discriminant validity requirement been well fulfilled because all correlation measured between all the latent exogenous construct is < .85 (Kline, 1998). For reliability, all 3 constructs indicated a Cronbach alpha values above .70 (Nunnally, 1978), while composite reliability exceed the value of .70 (Raykow, 1997). All standardized loading and AVE value are > .50 (Hair et al., 2010) while construct reliability value is 0.825 for Burnout, 0.970 for Flow and 0.811 for Socio-Cultural factor. Thus, all individual construct revealed favorable result.

4.2 Structural Model

The relationship between the constructs have been tested here. Prior to the relationship testing, the constructs were tested with Harmon's single factor to determine that there was no general factor accounted for majority of variance; thus common method variance was not present.

For validity and reliability testing, the result of each item factor loading value for flow, burnout and socio-cultural factor were > 0.50 and met the requirement for unidimensionality for the respective latent construct. The constructs correlation between exogenous constructs is < 0.85 which meant discriminant validity is met when the measurement model is free from redundancy (Kline, 1998). As per construct validity, the models met the level of goodness-of-fit (Absolute fit, Incremental fit and Parsimonious fit) with the %2 of 438.788 (df = 246, p = .000, %2/df = 2.847), RMSEA = .074, CFI = .955, TLI = .946. Both Cronbach alpha and composite reliability value met the benchmark of >.70

(Nunnally, 1978). Hence, all the constructs met almost all the validity and reliability requirement to proceed in the hypothesis testing.

5. Hypothesis Testing and Result

There are two objectives for this study, as mentioned in the hypotheses below:

Hypotheses 1 proposed that burnout has a significant relationship with flow; the result revealed that burnout is related with flow (P=1.46, p<.05). In short, the hypothesis that proposed burnout is related with flow has been supported.

Hypothesis 2 proposed that socio-cultural factors moderate the effect of burnout on flow.

The result revealed that the moderation effect is not significant since the difference in Chi-Square value between the constrained and unconstrained model is less than 3.84. The difference in Chi-Square value is (102.478-98.798) = 3.68 and the difference in degree of freedom (DF) is (48 - 47) = 1.

For significant testing, the difference in Chi-Square value must exceed the value of 3.84 with 1 degree of freedom (Zainuddin, 2013). The models met the level of goodness-of-fit (Absolute fit, Incremental fit and Parsimonious fit), hence the testing of the hypothesis for moderation found that the moderator variable of socio-cultural factor (individualism/collectivism) does not moderate the causal effect of burnout on flow.

In sum, the result revealed that burnout has a significant relationship with flow. On the contrary, socio-cultural factor have been found does not moderate the relationship between burnout on flow.

6. Discussion

The first assumption that burnout has a significantly related with flow is supported. There is an extreme lacking of study that examined the relationship between burnout and flow (Bakker, Aunóla & Demerouti, 2010). However, exhaustion, which shares similarities with the burnout construct (Leiter & Maslach, 2008), has been found to be negatively related to work engagement (Hakanen et al., 2006; Langelaan et al., 2006; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). Work engagement which refers to a positively fulfilling and work related state of mind, and share the affinity with the flow variables as discovered by Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonzales-Roma, and Bakker (2002). One possible reason is due the presence of many new incoming employees who are not well versed with the hotel mission, vision, and are unclear about business objectives ofhotels (Wright & Davis, 2003).

The relatively new employees, majority consisted of employees working between 1 to 3 years means that employees experience burnout and burnout occurrences match their professional skills need. Based on previous studies, burnout correlates negatively with flow (Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004). In addition, Hallberg et al. (2007) also revealed that work engagement and burnout are negatively correlated. Thus, this research revealed that burnout does have significant effect on flow and supported by past studies as well. According to some reports, it is suggested that much of the work in the hotel is stressful, which requires employees to face unpleasant experiences and employees in the industry have been reported to experience physical exhaustion and tiredness (Pulak, 2012). Therefore, the finding implies that hotel managers do have to worry about employees when the burnout phenomena occur and it will jeopardize the experience of flow. However, as long as there is a balance or equilibrium between the challenge and their own skills to perform the task, flow in turn occur toward high quality work produced and profitable to the organization.

The second objective is to test the moderator variable in relationship between burnout and flow and revealed found that the moderator variable of socio-cultural factor (individualism/collectivism) does not moderate the causal effect of burnout on flow. This means that burnout and flow are not influenced by socio-cultural factors (individualism/collectivism). Thus, even though majority of the hotel employees possessed high level of burnout (n = 184; 62.8%), this experience of burnout as a negative antecedent was not affected by socio-cultural factors (individualism/ collectivism), in relation with flow. One possible reason to the insignificant result is due to the context of working environment in the hotel industry. As mentioned earlier that this current study revealed that majority of the hotel employees possessed, at high level, burnout experience, which came from five (5) operation departments:

Housekeeping department, Food and Beverage department (services), Front Office department, Kitchen department (production), and Maintenance/Engineering department, which required more physical demand to deliver services to the customers in the hotel. Surprisingly, these 5 operation departments consisted 75.7% of the respondents from this study revealed that a majority of the employees experienced burnout at high level. However, the experience of burnout and the effect on flow was not affected by socio-cultural factor (individualism/collectivism). The possible reason is the job context; the hotel employees had been expected to perform the tasks demanded by the nature of the job in the hotel industry either the employees categorized under individualism or collectivism. Hence, the finding clearly explained that individualism and collectivism is not relevant in the hotel context in determining the relationship between burnout and flow experience. Kasa and Hassan (2013) reviewed 21 articles related to the topic on cultural dimension of the antecedent and the consequences of flow experience, concluded that there was no distinct differences in Western and non-Western countries.

7. Implication

Burnout refers to a negative phenomenon that increases organizational costs and reduces organizational productivity. Managers need to fully understand that psychological demands may lead to both chronic job strain such as burnout and to deterioration of positive outcomes such as health, job satisfaction as well as productivity (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). From the perspective of the organization, employees who experience burnout are unlikely to experience flow and unable to find their work enjoyable and intrinsically motivating. This phenomenon could not bring positive vides in the organization as flow could be experience by those employee with low level of exhaustion (Kasa & Hassan, 2013). This finding could be an important information and set up the relevant strategies to ensure that the hotels remain competitive in the business market the hotel employees could rewarding with positive experience toward service climate. Thus, it is necessarily important for the hotel's human resource managers to assist in burnout prevention such as increasing social support for the hotel employees, especially by conducting training on social and communication skills to supervisors (Burke & Richardsen, 1993; Halbesleben & Buckley, 2004); increase in employee autonomy, promote the employee involvement in decision-making (Burke & Richardsen, 1993), provide constant supervision and coaching which include peer supervision (Feingold, 2005), suggesting favorable volume of workloads and encouraged self-care as an important value within the organizational culture (Feingold, 2008) and lastly, by reducing the role ambiguity and office conflicts among the employees (Stalker & Harvey, 2002)

8. Limitation and Future Research

There are few limitations; first, the cross-sectional research data were collected from sample hotels in Sarawak, Malaysia and not collected from every state within Malaysia that could pose a bias when generalized for the whole country. Future research may consider a longitudinal study to further investigate in describing the pattern of change of the relationship between the variables in the context of Malaysian hotel industry.

9. Conclusion

To conclude, findings from this study suggest the importance of burnout in reaching an optimum state of flow. These results should be used by hotel's human resource managers as a starting point to bring the burnout phenomena to favourable stage to improve flow experience among employees. In addition, the optimum situation of flow is thought to be when challenges and skills are high and in equilibrium by ensuring the burnout phenomena is at the favourable stage. Thus, employees who are totally emerged in the task that challenge them are motivated to use their talents and strengths and could develop the new skills and knowledge; likely find their work enjoyable, worthwhile intrinsically and in turn, is profitable for the organization.


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