chapter  3
24 Pages

Individual strategies to prevent burnout


Burnout was first coined in the 1970s by Freudenberger to describe the gradual emotional depletion and loss of motivation he observed among people who had volunteered to work for aid organizations in New York. On the basis of his observations, Freudenberger (1974) defined burnout as “a state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by one’s professional life.” During the same time period, Maslach and her colleagues interviewed human service workers in California to find out how they were coping with client-related stressors (Maslach & Jackson, 1981). The human service workers used the term ‘burnout,’ and indicated that they experienced feelings of exhaustion, had developed negative attitudes towards their clients, and often felt that they lacked the professional competence needed to help their clients (Schaufeli et al., 2009). Although burnout was initially believed to be the result of the provision of services (e.g. Maslach & Jackson, 1981), research in the 1990s suggested that burnout can be found in virtually every job that has a specific constellation of working conditions. Namely, when employees are confronted with high job demands and are provided with inadequate job resources, they are at risk of developing burnout (Demerouti et al., 2001; Lee & Ashforth, 1996). Ample evidence has confirmed this suggestion (overview in Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Bakker & Demerouti, 2014).