Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, PA — Professional recognition at work from both supervisors and coworkers may be associated with a lower risk of burnout in employees, suggests a study in the March Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Dr. Daniela Renger of Kiel University, Germany, and colleagues performed a pair of studies to investigate the role of recognition at work as a protective factor against burnout. Characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and decreased personal accomplishment, burnout is a common problem with a major impact on employees as well as organizations.
In the first study, 328 employees received a questionnaire addressing professional recognition and burnout. Employees reporting higher levels of recognition from both supervisors and coworkers had lower symptoms of burnout, including exhaustion and depersonalization.
The second study included 220 employees evaluated on a more detailed questionnaire, addressing three specific forms of recognition: esteem, respect, and care. The results confirmed the importance of recognition by supervisors and coworkers.
In addition, certain forms of support were related to specific burnout symptoms. Symptoms of exhaustion were lessened for employees reporting higher levels of “equality-based respect” by both coworkers and supervisors, while higher levels of respect by coworkers and care from supervisors were associated with lower symptoms of depersonalization. Esteem from coworkers and supervisors was exclusively related to feelings of personal accomplishment, after adjustment for other factors.
Previous studies have reported that support, especially from supervisors, protects against burnout. The new study is the first to focus on different forms and sources of social recognition on employees’ symptoms of burnout.
“[O]ur findings suggest that organizational policies should systematically address the different forms that recognition at work can take (esteem, respect, and care) and the sources from which it can originate (coworkers and supervisors) as a key factor in protecting against burnout,” Dr. Renger and colleagues conclude. They discuss implications for companies interested in designing general and targeted interventions against burnout.