Presentation Title: Alleviating Burnout Through Self-Sustaining Improvements in Working Relationships

Abstract: Statement of Problem: Sustaining the contribution of organizational interventions requires self-sustaining processes. In a one year follow up to an organizational civility intervention among health care providers (CREW: Civility, Respect, and Engagement at Work), Leiter et al (2012) found three patterns of change. First, Lost Momentum was evident with absences that had decreased at the end of the CREW but had returned to their baseline level at follow-up. More encouraging, reflecting a Steady State model, job satisfaction and organizational commitment had retained the significant improvements demonstrated for CREW relative to the control groups. The most encouraging results were evident for workplace civility that reflected an Augmentation model in that they continued to improve after completion of the intervention. In a parallel fashion, job burnout also reflected an Augmentation model in that it continued to diminish for the CREW groups. The results for workplace civility and burnout provide support for the potential of self-sustaining workplace interventions. By improving the quality of social interaction at work, an intervention can establish behavior patterns that reinforce their continuation. As members of the workgroup experience more positive social encounters with their colleagues, they become more likely to initiative positive interactions. Further, a lower rate of incivility provides fewer opportunities for team members to feel offended or intimidated. This session presents a model of change that goes beyond the behavioral reactions to civility to include the core dimensions of job burnout as having an integral role in sustaining change. As the balance of social encounters shifts towards greater civility, social encounters function more often as resources that increase employees’ energy levels, encouraging greater involvement in work, and confirm their workplace efficacy. Implications for theory and the design of workplace interventions are discussed.


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