Scholarly article on topic 'Chronic job burnout and daily functioning: A theoretical analysis'

Chronic job burnout and daily functioning: A theoretical analysis Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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Burnout Research
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{Burnout / "Diary research" / "Employee engagement" / Interventions / "Job crafting" / Self-undermining}

Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Arnold B. Bakker, Patrícia L. Costa

Abstract In this article, we discuss the individual employee's role in the development of his/her job burnout. We review the antecedents and consequences of burnout, and propose a model with chronic burnout as a moderator of daily functioning in the workplace. Specifically, we argue that chronic burnout strengthens the loss cycle of daily job demands, daily exhaustion, and daily self-undermining. Additionally, we argue that chronic burnout weakens the gain cycle of daily job resources, daily work engagement, and daily job crafting. We conclude that employees with high levels of burnout need help in structurally changing their working conditions and health status.

Academic research paper on topic "Chronic job burnout and daily functioning: A theoretical analysis"


Burnout Researchxxx (2014) xxx-xxx


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Burnout Research

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1 Research Article

2 Chronic job burnout and daily functioning: A theoretical analysis

3 qi Arnold B. Bakkera,b'*, Patricia L. Costac

4 Q2 a Erasmus University Rotterdam, Department of Work & Organizational Psychology, Woudestein, Room 113-47, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The

5 Netherlands

6 b Lingnan University, Department of Applied Psychology, Hong Kong, China

7 c ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, Office 2W8 (BuildingI), Av.a das Forcas Armadas, 1649-026 Lisboa, Portugal


11 Article history:

12 Received 31 January 2014

13 Received in revised form 10 April 2014

14 Accepted 19 April 2014

16 Keywords:

17 Burnout

18 Diary research

19 Employee engagement

20 Interventions

21 Job crafting

22 Self-undermining


In this article, we discuss the individual employee's role in the development of his/her job burnout. We review the antecedents and consequences of burnout, and propose a model with chronic burnout as a moderator of daily functioning in the workplace. Specifically, we argue that chronic burnout strengthens the loss cycle of daily job demands, daily exhaustion, and daily self-undermining. Additionally, we argue that chronic burnout weakens the gain cycle of daily job resources, daily work engagement, and daily job crafting. We conclude that employees with high levels of burnout need help in structurally changing their working conditions and health status.

© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

1. Introduction

Burnout is arguably one of the most popular research topics in occupational health psychology, and there is a good reason for this. Research has convincingly shown that employees who are at risk of burnout (i.e., who are chronically exhausted and hold a negative, cynical attitude toward work) show impaired job performance and may face serious health problems over the course of time (Bakker, Demerouti, & Sanz-Vergel, 2014). One obvious problem is that once employees experience high levels of burnout, they often continue to be in trouble. Indeed, longitudinal research suggests that burnout can be rather stable, over periods of five, ten, or even fifteen years (Bakker, Schaufeli, Sixma, Bosveld, & Van Dierendonck, 2000; Hakanen, Bakker, &Jokisaari, 2011; Schaufeli, Maassen, Bakker, & Sixma, 2011). How can we explain that burnout persists for so long? We think that burnout has not been adequately explained because most studies do not regard burnout as an ongoing process that unfolds over time (see also, Ten Brummelhuis, Ter Hoeven, Bakker, & Peper, 2011).

Previous burnout research has suggested that the syndrome has structural causes in the work environment, particularly high

* Corresponding author at: Erasmus University Rotterdam, Department of Work & Organizational Psychology, Woudestein, Room T13-47, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Q3 Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 10 408 8853.

E-mail addresses: (A.B. Bakker), (P.L. Costa).

job demands and low job resources (Alarcon, 2011; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001; Lee & Ashforth, 1996). This research also indicates that individual factors such as neuroticism and perfectionism play a significant role in the development of burnout, because these characteristics predispose employees to cope in the wrong way with their high job demands (see also, Swider & Zimmerman, 2010). Despite all this knowledge, we still know little about the role the individual employee plays in the daily process that may lead to burnout. Do employees only react passively to the work environment or do they actively influence it?

The central aim of this article is to analyze the burnout phenomenon from the perspective of the burned-out worker. We want to capture the process leading to burnout, and explain why burnout persists for such a long time. How do those with high levels of burnout function in the workplace on a day-to-day basis? Does the problem progress from bad to worse? This paper aims to contribute to the literature in two important ways. First, we challenge the rather static view of burnout that dominates the literature, suggesting that burnout is a simple response to the working environment. We present a more dynamic model that elucidates how burnout progresses over time. Second, we emphasize the role of the individual employee in the burnout process. What can employees do themselves to break through the loss spiral of burnout? We introduce the concepts of self-undermining and job crafting as behaviors that may help to understand how burnout often persists and leads to more job demands and less job resources over the course of time.

60 61 62

2213-0586/© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


A.B. Bakker, P.L. Costa/ Burnout Research xxx (2014) xxx-xxx

72 2. Burnout

73 Burnout is a syndrome characterized by chronic exhaustion,

74 cynicism, and a lack of personal accomplishment. It is usually

75 defined as ".. .a state of exhaustion in which one is cynical about

76 the value of one's occupation and doubtful of one's capacity to

77 perform" (Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996, p. 20). Emotional

78 exhaustion is the central strain dimension of burnout, described

79 as feelings of being emotionally drained by one's work. Cynicism

80 is a negative or excessively detached response to the work itself

81 and/or to the individuals with whom employees' interact while

82 performing their job. Finally, lack of personal accomplishment

83 refers to a decline in one's feelings of competence and of suc-84Q4 cessful achievement at work (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001;

85 Schaufeli, Leiter, & Maslach, 2009). Burned-out individuals simul-

86 taneously experience high levels of chronic fatigue, and distance

87 themselves emotionally and cognitively from their work activi-

88 ties.

89 Employees with higher levels of burnout are more likely to

90 report a range of psychological and physical health problems,

91 including anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, memory impair-

92 ment, and neck pain (Peterson et al., 2008). In a study among

93 a nationally representative sample of more than 3000 Finnish

94 workers, Ahola (2007) reported an increased prevalence of depres-

95 sive and anxiety disorders and of alcohol dependence among

96 burned-out employees. Similarly, in their three-wave, seven-year

97 prospective study of 2000 dentists, Hakanen and Schaufeli (2012)

98 found a positive relationship between burnout on the one hand

99 and depressive symptoms and life dissatisfaction on the other. In

100 what physical health is concerned, Kim,Ji, and Kao (2011) showed

101 that social workers with higher initial levels of burnout reported

102 more physical health complaints over the course of their three-year

103 study, including sleep disturbances, headaches, respiratory infec-

104 tions, and gastrointestinal infections. Higher levels of burnout led

105 to a faster rate of deterioration in physical health. The burnout

106 syndrome has also been found to be an independent risk fac-

107 tor for infections (e.g., common cold; Mohren et al., 2003), and

108 type 2 diabetes (Melamed, Shirom, Toker, & Shapira, 2006). More-

109 over, burnout is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (Ahola,

110 2007). A ten-year prospective study by Ahola, Vaananen, Koskinen,

111 Kouvonen, and Shirom (2010) concluded, "burnout, especially

112 work-related exhaustion, may be a risk for overall survival" (p.

113 1).

114 Consequently, burned-out employees are likely to display one

115 or more withdrawal behaviors (Hanisch, 1995) such as lateness,

116 absence, or turnover (Maslach et al., 2001). Clinically burned-out

117 employees may get justified absence leaves from work. However,

118 other burned-out employees remain at work, which leads to a

119 form of presenteeism. Presenteeism occurs when individuals go

120 to work when they should instead be off sick, either because they

121 are ill or because they are no longer effective (Cooper, 1996).

122 Individual performance is compromised because burned-out work-

123 ers need to invest extra time and effort in performing their job.

124 Additionally, collective performance may suffer because healthy

125 employees spend time in helping their sick colleagues, at risk

126 of also damaging their own health (Roe, 2003). Moreover, pre-

127 senteeism it itself a risk factor for burnout. Demerouti, Le Blanc,

128 Bakker, Schaufeli and Hox (2009), in a three-wave study among

129 staff nurses working in general hospitals, found reciprocal relation-

130 ships between burnout, job demands, and presenteeism. Burnout

131 (exhaustion and depersonalization) predicted more job demands

132 and presenteeism; presenteeism, in turn, predicted higher levels

133 of burnout. In conclusion, employees who are burned-out by their

134 work, experience more psychological and physical health prob-

135 lems, and this influences their behavior at work in a significant way.

Fig. 1. The Job Demands-Resources model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014).

2.1. Causes of burnout 136

The causes of burnout are generally divided in two categories: 137

situational factors and individual factors (Bakker et al., 2014). Situ- 138

ational factors include job demands and (lack of) job resources. 139

Job demands are aspects of the job that require sustained effort 140

(Demerouti et al., 2001). Therefore, job demands are associated 141

with physiological and psychological costs, such as an increased 142

heart rate and fatigue. Such symptoms may set the ground for 143

the experience of burnout, because job demands lead employees 144

to feel exhausted and to psychologically distance themselves from 145

work (Bakker et al., 2000). Role ambiguity, role conflict, role stress, 146

stressful events, workload, and work pressure are among the most 147

important job demands that cause burnout (Alarcon, 2011; Lee & 148

Ashforth, 1996). 149

Job resources are the physical, psychological, social, or organi- 150

zational aspects of the job that facilitate the achievement of work 151

goals, reduce job demands and its costs, or stimulate personal 152

growth through meaningful work (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). The 153

relationship between job resources and burnout is consistently 154

negative, where lower levels of job resources are associated with 155

higher levels of burnout, especially in what cynicism is concerned 156

(Demerouti et al., 2001). Moreover, Job Demands-Resources the- 157

ory (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007, 2014; Demerouti & Bakker, 2011) 158

proposes that job resources play a buffering role in the relationship 159

between job demands and burnout (see Fig. 1). Bakker, Demerouti, 160

and Euwema (2005) found that when employees experienced 161

autonomy, received feedback, had social support, or had a high- 162

quality relationship with their supervisor, being subject to work 163

overload, emotional demands, physical demands, and work-home 164

interference did not result in high levels of burnout. Thus, burnout 165

is more likely to develop when high job demands are combined 166

with low job resources. 167

In what individual factors are concerned, both socioeconomic 168

status and personality variables have been analyzed as creating a 169

predisposition to suffer from burnout symptoms. Hakanen et al.'s 170

(2011) cohort study among Finnish employees found that socioeco- 171

nomic status and cognitive ability in adolescence were associated 172

with job burnout 35 years later, through adult education and skill 173

variety. Personality influences the way people perceive their work 174

environment, and therefore how they deal with job demands and 175

resources. Strain may arise, for example, when the work envi- 176

ronment is not aligned with individual personality, leading to 177

frustration of individual needs. For example, when an introverted 178

technician becomes a leader, he will need to enact behaviors he 179


A.B. Bakker, P.L. Costa/ Burnout Research xxx (2014) xxx-xxx

180 is not used to - for example give presentations for larger groups

181 of co-workers. This misfit between personality and job demands

182 may result in serious stress reactions, particularly when employ-

183 ees are often exposed to demands that do not fit with their skills

184 and preferences. Alarcon, Eschleman, and Bowling (2009) found

185 that four of the Big Five factors of personality (Costa & McCrae,

186 1985) - emotional stability, extraversion, conscientiousness, and

187 agreeableness - were consistently negatively related to each of

188 the three dimensions of burnout. Further, individuals high in self-

189 efficacy, optimism, and self-esteem were better able to deal with

190 job demands - most likely because they believe they have con-

191 trol over their work environment, and, therefore, are more likely

192 to proactively solve problems and seek resources when facing job

193 demands.

194 It should be noted that these situational and individual factors

195 are relatively stable and likely to persist over extended periods

196 of time. This means that if the work environment is suboptimal,

197 or when employees have a personality that does not fit with the

198 work situation, eventually, chronic job burnout is a possible risk.

199 However, research suggests that levels of well-being and job per-

200 formance may also fluctuate within shorter time periods, namely

201 from week to week, and even from day to day (Xanthopoulou,

202 Bakker, & Ilies, 2012). How do such short-term fluctuations in well-

203 being relate to chronic levels of burnout? Are employees with high

204 levels of chronic burnout tired during every day? What are the

205 possible causes of ups and downs in daily well-being? Can burned-

206 out individuals change their own work situation? We will answer

207 these questions below. However, we will first examine the link

208 between burnout and job performance, because this literature pro-

209 vides important information about the work behavior of employees

210 high in burnout.

211 2.2. Job performance

212 Research has indicated that burnout is negatively related to per-

213 formance. In a large meta-analytic study including no less than

214 115 different studies, Swider and Zimmerman (2010) found the

215 three dimensions of job burnout had multiple correlations of .23

216 with absenteeism, .33 with turnover, and .36 with job perfor-

217 mance. A previous meta-analysis by Taris (2006) investigated the

218 relationship between burnout and other-ratings of performance

219 (e.g., supervisor reports). He identified sixteen studies dealing with

220 the burnout-performance relationship, showing a wide variety of

221 approaches that are used to study burnout and objective perfor-

222 mance. The meta-analytical correlations between exhaustion and

223 in-role behavior (based on five studies), organizational citizenship

224 behavior (five studies), and customer satisfaction (two studies)

225 were -22, -19, and -55, respectively. The evidence for the relation-

226 ships between depersonalization, personal accomplishment, and

227 performance was inconclusive.

228 One possible explanation for the negative link between burnout

229 and performance is that exhausted employees lack the concentra-

230 tion needed to perform well, and therefore make more mistakes.

231 Additionally, the negative emotions that are characteristic of

232 burnout narrow the breadth of thought processing (Fredrickson,

233 2001), diminish the focus on new or global information (Derryberry

234 & Tucker, 1994), and impair the quality of decision-making.

235 Individuals who experience negative emotional states and who

236 are psychologically detached from work also demonstrate fewer

237 approach behaviors toward others (Cacioppo, Gardner, & Berntson,

238 1999), and more counterproductive work behaviors such as steal-

239 ing, withholding effort and information, and taking longer breaks

240 (Penney & Spector, 2008). Furthermore, burned-out employees are

241 less willing to help others (Swider & Zimmerman, 2010), and less

242 likely to receive help from others, which may result in productivity

243 losses (Bakker etal., 2014).

Burnout is not only negatively related to performance, but 244

also positively related to sickness absenteeism. Schaufeli, Bakker, 245

and Van Rhenen (2009) showed that burnout predicted future 246

absence duration but not absence frequency over the course ofone 247

year. Toppinen-Tanner, Ojajarvi, Vaananen, Kalimo, and Jappinen 248

(2005) found that burnout increased the risk of medically certi- 249

fied absences episodes that were longer than three days. Similarly, 250

Borritz, Rugulies, Christensen, Villadsen, and Kristensen (2006) 251

found that an increase of burnout was positively related to an 252

increase in sickness absence days per year. Peterson et al. (2011) 253

found that the exhaustion dimension of burnout predicted long- 254

term sickness (90 days or more) at any occasion during the 44 255

months of follow-up in a study among more than 6000 employees 256

working in a County Council area in Sweden. 257

One problem that is evident from the literature - and that fol- 258

lows logically from the observation that burnout coincides with 259

impaired job performance - is that burnout predicts increased 260

job demands overtime (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014). For example, 261

Demerouti, Bakker, and Bulters (2004) performed a longitudinal 262

study with a sample of 335 employees and found that work pres- 263

sure and exhaustion had causal and reversed causal relationships 264

over time. Hence, not only did work pressure predict exhaustion; 265

feeling exhausted also predicted subsequent levels of work pres- 266

sure in a reciprocal relationship (see also, Ten Brummelhuis et al., 267

2011). The reason for this reciprocal relationship is most likely 268

that exhausted employees need more time to finish their tasks, 269

make more mistakes, and are less able to mobilize their resources. 270

This means that job demands accumulate over time - causing even 271

higher levels of burnout. 272

3. Chronic burnout and daily functioning 273

Our review so far indicates that employees with high levels 274

of burnout (exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced personal accom- 275

plishment) are most likely to be found in working environments 276 with high job demands and low job resources. Over the course of 277

time, employees' experience of fatigue may transform into chronic 278

exhaustion and health problems when the demands of their job 279

become overwhelming, and when job resources are consistently 280

lacking. Employees with burnout also do not manage to function 281 at the expected performance level. How does the experience of 282

chronic burnout affect daily experiences at work, and how does it 283

affect employees' work behavior? Additionally, what is the impact 284

of daily work activities on the well-being of burned-out employ- 285

ees? 286

Unfortunately and paradoxically, most research on the concept 287

of burnout has studied employees with only mild signs of burnout, 288

and ignored the group of employees that is at risk for burnout 289

or that progressed into clinical burnout. Some descriptive studies 290

investigated burnout among employees who received professional 291

treatment (Schaufeli, Bakker, Hoogduin, Schaap, & Kladler, 2001; 292

Sonnenschein, Sorbi, Van Doornen, Schaufeli, & Maas, 2007), but the 293

vast majority of studies have treated the focal variable (burnout) as 294 a continuous variable. Such a strategy is not unusual in the field of 295 applied psychology, and this approach has resulted in a wealth of 296

knowledge regarding the predictors of burnout. However, the ana- 297

lytical problem is that burnout may particularly have an adverse 298

impact on functioning at work when employees experience high 299

levels of exhaustion and cynicism. Indeed, recent research suggests 300 that employees with only mild symptoms of burnout use a range of 301

strategies (e.g., selection, optimization, compensation; Demerouti, 302

Bakker, & Leiter, 2014) to keep theirjob performance at acceptable 303

levels. However, what happens once employees have reached high 304

levels of burnout as a consequence of prolonged exposure to high 305

job demands and low job resources? 306


4 A.B. Bakker, P.L. Costa/ Burnout Research xxx (2014) xxx-xxx

307 We believe it is time that our field moves forward and investi-

308 gates how people with higher (vs. lower) levels of (chronic) burnout

309 - but who are still at work - function on a daily basis. We use

310 the two central processes in the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R)

311 model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014; Demerouti et al., 2001; see

312 Fig. 1) to explain how employees with high levels of burnout

313 may get trapped in a loss cycle of high daily job demands and

314 high daily exhaustion, and do not manage to mobilize their daily

315 job resources. However, whereas previous research with the JD-R

316 model has generally used either a between-person or a within-

317 person approach, we distinguish between two levels of analysis,

318 namely the level of the person (chronic burnout level), and the day

319 level (daily functioning; see Fig. 2).

320 3.1. Daily job demands and self-undermining

321 An important starting point is to acknowledge that individuals

322 with high levels of burnout cope differently with their daily job

323 demands than those low in burnout, which may exacerbate their

324 problems. More specifically, as can be seen in Fig. 2, we propose

325 that dailyjob demands translate into daily exhaustion (cf. Simbula,

326 2010), particularly for high-burnout employees. The reason for this

327 is that the low level of daily energy that is apparent in employ-

328 ees with chronic burnout (Sonnenschein et al., 2007) makes them

329 unfit to deal adequately with the dailyjob demands. These daily

330 job demands, for example, complex problems that must be solved,

331 or a demanding customer that needs a lot of attention, will then

332 costs additional effort, resulting in a high level of daily exhaustion.

333 If individuals high in burnout are often confronted with high daily

334 job demands, they may end up in a loss cycle (Hobfoll, 2002) in

335 which most energy resources are depleted and employees becomes

336 sick.

337 In his conservation of resources theory, Hobfoll (2002) has

338 referred to "loss spirals" and suggested that people who lack

339 resources are susceptible to losing even more resources. Accord-

340 ing to Hobfoll's conservation of resources theory, individuals strive

341 to obtain things they value. These are called "resources" and

342 include objects, conditions, personal characteristics and energies.

343 Resources are entities that ".. .either are centrally valued in their

own right, or act as means to obtain centrally valued ends" (Hobfoll, 344

2002, p. 307). People strive to protect themselves from resource 345

loss, which makes loss more salient than gain. However, resources 346

are related to each other in a "web like" nature, which further 347

suggests that resource loss and gain occurs in spirals. Loss spirals 348

will follow initial losses, with each loss resulting in depletion of 349

resources for confronting the next threat or loss (Hobfoll, 2002). 350

Besides, resource loss also prevents the switching of the situation 351

into gain cycles. Burnout is a classic case, whereby the employees' 352

personal and job resources are being progressively eroded lead- 353

ing to increased energy depletion and further diminishment of 354

resources. Demerouti et al. (2004) found evidence for such a loss 355

spiral in which work pressure evoked work-family conflict and 356

exhaustion. These feelings of chronic fatigue, consequently, gave 357

rise to more work pressure and work-family conflict over time. 358

Indeed, there is considerable evidence suggesting that employ- 359

ees at risk for burnout create more job demands over time. We 360

have briefly mentioned some longitudinal studies that provided 361

evidence for this contention (Demerouti et al., 2004; Schaufeli et al., 362

2009; Ten Brummelhuis et al., 2011), but these studies did not 363

explain how and why burnout is positively related to job demands 364

over time. As can be seen in Fig. 2, we propose that employees with 365

higher levels of daily exhaustion show self-undermining behav- 366

ior. Our concept of self-undermining is based on - but different 367

from - the phenomenon of self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is 368

defined as a self-defending maneuver referring to obstacles created, 369

or claimed, by the individual in anticipation of failing performance 370

(Jones & Berglas, 1978). In the present theoretical analysis, we 371

use the term 'self-undermining' for behavior that creates obsta- 372

cles that may undermine performance. We argue that employees 373

with higher levels of daily exhaustion will make more mistakes, 374

which then need to be corrected again, adding to the already high 375

job demands. Thus, we expand JD-R theory (see Fig. 1), by argu- 376

ing that exhausted employees show self-undermining behaviors, 377

on a daily basis. Additionally, we argue that chronically burned- 378

out employees are less able to manage their own emotions, and 379

more likely to encounter conflicts at work. These self-undermining 380

daily behaviors all contribute to higher daily job demands (see 381

Fig. 2). 382


A.B. Bakker, P.L. Costa/ Burnout Research xxx (2014) xxx-xxx 5

383 Research has provided ample evidence for self-undermining employees independently modify aspects of their jobs to improve 447

384 as a result of exhaustion. For example, Van der Linden, Keijsers, the fit between the characteristics of the job and their own abili- 448

385 Eling, and Van Schaijk (2005) compared three groups: (a) a group ties, needs, and preferences (Berg, Dutton, & Wrzesniewski, 2010). 449

386 of burned-out individuals who stopped working due to their According to Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001), employees may 450

387 symptoms and sought professional treatment; (b) teachers at a craft the tasks they must fulfill at work, the interpersonal rela- 451

388 vocational training institute who reported high levels of burnout tionships they experience when performing their work, or they 452

389 symptoms but continued to work; and (c) teachers from the same may positively reframe the way they think about their work. 453

390 institute who reported no burnout symptoms. The results showed Building on these ideas, Tims, Bakker and Derks (2013) showed 454

391 that burnout was positively related to the number of cognitive that employees who craft their own job demands and resources 455

392 failures in daily life, and to inhibition errors and performance increase their levels of work engagement and reduce the risk of 456

393 variability in attentional tasks carried out in the laboratory. Thus, burnout. 457

394 burned-out individuals made more mistakes. Similarly, in their lon- Unfortunately, burned-out employees seem less likely to profit 458

395 gitudinal field study among financialconsultants, Ten Brummelhuis from the gain cycle of daily job resources, daily work engage- 459

396 et al. (2011) found a loss cycle of burnout through a decrease in ment, and daily job crafting put forward by JD-R theory (Bakker & 460

397 job resources and an increase in job demands. Resource loss was Demerouti, 2014; seeFigs.1 and 2). This is particularly problematic 461

398 most likely for burned-out consultants who were low in intrinsic because daily job resources such as performance feedback, train- 462

399 motivation. ing, and social support are needed to cope with daily job demands. 463

400 Further, Sonnenschein et al. (2007) asked 60 clinically burned- Additionally, given that job resources have motivational potential 464

401 out participants and 40 healthy controls to record symptoms with (Hackman & Oldham, 1980), not being able to profit from daily job 465

402 an electronic diary for two weeks at random times per day. Their resources means low levels of work engagement on a daily basis. 466

403 findings indicated that clinically burned-out individuals did not Once engaged, employees are more likely to mobilize their job 467

404 recover as much through sleep as healthy individuals did, because resources in order to stay engaged (Bakker, 2011). Employees with 468

405 burned-out individuals experienced all kinds of sleep problems, chronic burnout miss the energy and motivation to start such job 469

406 particularly trouble falling asleep and nonrefreshing sleep. This is crafting behavior. Thus, individuals high in burnout miss opportu- 470

407 one reason why burned-out individuals show consistent high levels nities to profit from again cycle (Hobfoll, 2002) in which resources 471

408 of daily exhaustion. Thus, burned-out individuals seem to under- accumulate over time (Hakanen, Perhoniemi, & Toppinen-Tanner, 472

409 mine their own daily functioning because they do not sleep very 2008). 473

410 well. Gain spirals are technically defined as amplifying loops in which 474

411 In another diary study, Van Gelderen, Konijn, and Bakker (2014) cyclic relationships among constructs build on each other posi- 475

412 showed that police officers with high levels of strain at the start of tively over time (Lindsley, Brass, & Thomas, 1995). According to 476

413 theirworkshiftweremorelikelytousesuboptimalemotionalregu- conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 2002), the acquisition 477

414 lation strategies (i.e., 'surface acting' instead of'deep acting') during and accumulation of resources is a pivotal drive that initiates and 478

415 the working day in interactions with civilians/suspects. Daily sur- maintains people's behavior. Accordingly, people are motivated to 479

416 face acting, in turn, resulted in impaired performance and higher obtain, retain, foster and protect resources. Research in the realm of 480

417 daily strain at the end of the work shift. Police officers who fake organizations has provided evidence forthe existence of gain cycles 481

418 their emotions during interactions with civilians are perceived as (not spirals) of job resources and engagement: job resources pre- 482

419 less authentic by these civilians, and are therefore more likely to dict personal resources and work engagement; personal resources 483

420 exacerbate the problems they aim to solve (Van Gelderen, Konijn, and work engagement, in turn, predict job resources overtime (see 484

421 & Bakker, 2011). Hence, this is one more example where higher Bakker & Demerouti, 2014; Salanova, Schaufeli, Xanthopoulou, & 485

422 levels of strain seem to evoke self-undermining behaviors. Bakker, 2010). 486

423 It should be noted that job demands might also be affected by Furthermore, research has provided evidence for a negative 487

424 employees' perceptions of these demands (Zapf, Dormann, & Frese, relationship between burnout and job resources (see Fig. 2), most 488

425 1996). Just like the tendency of depressed people to assess their probably because of the withdrawal behavior that is characteris- 489

426 environment more negatively and thus contributing to a more neg- tic of individuals high in burnout. Ten Brummelhuis et al. (2011) 490

427 ative climate (Demerouti et al., 2004), burned-out employees may foundinatwo-yearfollowupstudythat baseline burnout predicted 491

428 perceive relatively high job demands and complain more often future burnout directly and indirectly, through an increase in job 492

429 about their workload creating a negative work climate (González- demands and a decrease in job resources. Regardingjob resources, 493

430 Morales, Peiró, Rodríguez, & Bliese, 2012). Finally, it is conceivable the authors found that burnout resulted in a decrease in co-worker 494

431 that not only demands increase, but that job resources also decrease and supervisor support, a reduction of job autonomy and informa- 495

432 with increasing levels of burnout. As indicated in Fig. 2, employees tion, and less participation in decision-making. In a similar vein, 496

433 who score higher on burnout may also be less likely to mobilize De Beer, Pienaar, and Rothmann Jr. (2013) conducted a one-year 497

434 their job resources. Indeed, Schaufeli et al. (2009) found that man- follow-up study in the mining sector and found that T1 burnout 498

435 agers who scored higher on T1 burnout were less likely to receive was negatively related to T2 social support from colleagues, T2 499

436 performance feedback in the following year; and Ten Brummelhuis social support from supervisors, and marginally significantly, neg- 500

437 et al. (2011) found that employees who scored higher onT1 burnout atively related to T2 role clarity, also suggesting that employees 501

438 were less likely to receive co-worker and supervisor support; to with higher levels of burnout are less likely to have access to job 502

439 experience job autonomy; to participate in decision-making; and resources. 503

440 to have access to information in the following two years. Job resources such as social support, performance feedback, and 504

opportunities for development are motivating because they help 505

441 3.2. Daily job resources and job crafting to deal with job demands and reach work-related goals (Bakker 506

& Demerouti, 2014). Employees high in burnout are less likely 507

442 Employees with high levels of chronic burnout are not only to profit from such job resources because they are less open to 508

443 more likely to end up in a loss cycle of daily job demands, exhaus- new experiences (Bakker, Van der Zee, Lewig, & Dollard, 2006; 509

444 tion, and self-undermining. They are simultaneously also less likely Sandstrom et al., 2011). In addition, burned-out employees may be 510

445 to profit from a gain cycle of daily job resources, daily work less able to focus on a variety of tasks because of their health prob- 511

446 engagement, and daily job crafting (see Fig. 2). In job crafting, lems, including anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, memory 512


A.B. Bakker, P.L. Costa/ Burnout Research xxx (2014) xxx-xxx

513 impairment, and neck pain (Ahola, 2007). Moreover, as alluded to

514 before, burned-out employees are less likely to proactively change

515 their own work environment. Indeed, Tims, Bakker, & Derks, 2012

516 found that burnout was negatively related to proactive behavior

517 at work. In addition, employees who scored higher on cynicism

518 were less likely to craft their social and structural job resources or

519 to craft their challenges at work. In contrast, engaged employees

520 were more likely to increase their challenges, and, for example, to

521 seek social support and ask for feedback. This positive link between

522 engagement and job crafting has also been found on a daily basis

523 (Demerouti & Bakker, 2014; Petrou, Demerouti, Peeters, Schaufeli,

524 & Hetland, 2012). Daily job crafting can, in turn, have a positive

525 impact on daily job resources (see Fig. 2).

526 Finally, burned-out individuals seem to fail to satisfy their basic

527 psychological needs. According to self-determination theory, peo-

528 ple have three innate psychological needs, namely the needs for

529 autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 2000). The

530 need for autonomy implies that people have a universal urge to be

531 causal agents and to experience volition; the need for competence

532 concerns people's inherent desire to be effective in dealing with

533 the environment; and the need for relatedness implies the universal

534 propensity to interact with, be connected to, and experience caring

535 for other people (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Research of the past

536 decades has shown that satisfaction of these three needs fosters

537 well-being and performance, whereas frustration of the needs fos-

538 tersjob strain and impaired performance (Gagne & Vansteenkiste,

539 2013). In a student setting, fulfillment of the needs for autonomy,

540 competence and relatedness was related to well-being on a day-to-

541 day basis (Reis, Sheldon, Gable, Roscoe, & Ryan, 2000). In a recent

542 study in an organizational setting, Bakker and Oerlemans (2014)

543 found that the more time burned-out (vs. healthy) individuals spent

544 on work-related activities (e.g., core work tasks, administrative

545 tasks, meetings with clients, and interactions with colleagues), the

546 lower their momentary need satisfaction, and the lower their daily

547 happiness. Because burned-out employees seem unable to satisfy

548 their daily basic needs for relatedness, autonomy and competence

549 through work, it is likely that their daily work engagement is low

550 as well.

551 4. Practical implications

552 We have argued that chronic burnout has a detrimental effect

553 on employees' daily functioning, because burnout strengthens

554 the loss cycle of daily demands, daily exhaustion, and daily self-

555 undermining. In addition, burnout undermines the gain cycle of

556 daily job resources, daily work engagement, and daily job crafting.

557 Therefore, chronically burned-out employees or those at risk for

558 burnout need help from others in order to change the structural

559 causes that contribute to their impaired health status and work

560 capacity. Organizations (e.g., occupational health professionals or

561 human resource managers) should play a central role in the preven-

562 tion and reduction of burnout, simultaneously paying attention to

563 the organizational context and the personal needs of the individual

564 employee (Kompier, Cooper, & Geurts, 2000). Management should

565 develop policies to optimize structural job demands and resources

566 - particularly for those who are at risk for burnout. Discussing the

567 working conditions with individual employees, after an assessment

568 of personal job demands and resources, is one possible interven-

569 tion. Together with the employee, leaders may identify and try to

570 reduce hindrance job demands, such as role ambiguity or role con-

571 flict (Crawford, LePine, & Rich, 2010). Simultaneously, they may

572 try to identify and develop job resources that foster work engage-

573 ment and help coping with the job demands. Leaders can also be

574 trained to better supervise their employees, by learning how to

575 offer adequate, constructive feedback and how to establish clear

goals for their employees. This is not an easy pursuit, but research 576

suggests that structural burnout interventions can have favorable 577

effects (Leiter & Maslach, 2014). 578

Additionally, recent research suggests that job crafting is an 579

important 'bottom-up' approach that can be used to train employ- 580

ees to optimize their own work environment themselves, so that 581

they stay engaged (Van den Heuvel, Demerouti, & Peeters, 2012). 582

In the training, employees who are at risk for burnout may learn 583

to identify the demands and resources in their work environment. 584

Consequently, they learn the principles of job crafting, and make 585

their personal job crafting plan. This plan includes goal setting, such 586

as seeking specificjob resources (e.g., asking for feedback and social 587

support), and reducing work pressure and role conflicts (Demerouti 588

& Bakker, 2014). Job crafting should, of course, not become an addi- 589

tional demand that needs to be dealt with, because that would 590

increase daily exhaustion. Managers who help employees at risk 591

for burnout allocate time to job crafting. Future research should 592

test whether job crafting can really work for employees who are 593

high on chronic burnout. 594

The present theoretical analysis clearly indicates that employee 595

well-being and work behavior fluctuates on a daily basis. Employ- 596

ees may either craft their daily work environment and mobilize 597

their job resources, or run into trouble because of their high level of 598

exhaustion, creating higher job demands through a process of self- 599

undermining. Daily interventions may interrupt these loss cycles. 600

First, in our projects, we provide feedback to our participants about 601

their daily activities and daily experiences (e.g., Breevaart et al., 602

2014). On the basis of this feedback, employees (high or low in 603

burnout) learn what the possible daily causes are of their fatigue. 604

This information can be used as a starting point for behavior change. 605

Another option is the use of smartphone applications that offer the 606

possibility to monitor the daily fluctuations in engagement, and 607

offer feedback to the users regarding the possible causes of the 608

peaks and lows in engagement from day to day, or even within 609

the day. Additionally, research has indicated that recovery is a 610

crucial strategy. Recovery activities, such as social activities (e.g., 611

having dinner with friends), low-effort activities (reading, listening 612

to music, surfing on the internet), and physical activities (e.g., sport, 613

exercise, dancing) may foster relaxation and psychological detach- 614

ment from work, which may, in turn, facilitate next day's work 615

engagement (see, also regarding methodology; Bakker, Demerouti, 616

Oerlemans, & Sonnentag, 2013; Ten Brummelhuis & Bakker, 2012). 617

Employees may also learn how to better cope with their exhaustion 618

by mastering the activities that are most helpful for recovery from 619

their work-related efforts (Hahn, Binnewies, Sonnentag, & Mojza, 620

2011), including the activities mentioned above. 621

5. Conclusion 622

Burnout is a combination of chronic exhaustion and negative 623

attitudes toward work with damaging consequences for employee 624

health and productivity. In this article, we developed an over- 625

all model of burnout in which chronic burnout is considered as 626

an important moderator of daily employee functioning. We have 627

argued and shown that chronic burnout strengthens the loss cycle 628

of daily job demands, daily exhaustion, and daily self-undermining, 629

whereas chronic burnout weakens the gain cycle of daily job 630

resources, daily work engagement, and daily job crafting. Future 631

research should test these propositions in cross-level research, in 632

which employees high in chronic burnout are compared with those 633

low in burnout regarding their management of daily job demands 634

and resources. Employees with high levels of burnout need help in 635

structurally changing their working conditions and health status, 636

and we hope that the present article offers a framework with which 637

this can be achieved. 638


A.B. Bakker, P.L. Costa/ Burnout Research xxx (2014) xxx-xxx

639 Conflict of interest

640 The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

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