Job stress got you down, but feel you can’t quit? A new workplace study suggests you may be at increased risk of “emotional exhaustion” -- a chronic and unhealthy state of physical and mental “depletion,” resulting from continuous stress and excessive job demands.
The new research – by scientists from Concordia University and the Université de Montréal – found workers who stay in an organization out of a sense of obligation or for lack of alternatives are more likely to experience burnout and stress-related health problems.
The study, published in the journal Human Relations, involved 260 workers from various industries who were asked about various types of organizational commitments, such as whether they identified with a company's goals and values, or felt an obligation to stay in their jobs.
Participants were, on average, 34 years old; 33 percent held managerial positions, while 50 percent worked in the public sector.
"Our study examined whether some forms of commitment to an organization could have detrimental effects, such as emotional exhaustion," said lead researcher Alexandra Panaccio, an assistant professor in the Department of Management at Concordia's John Molson School of Business. "When employees stay with their organization because they feel that they have no other options, they are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion."
Curiously perhaps, the researchers found that people with high self-esteem may be most affected by a perceived lack of employment alternatives — “possibly because that perception is inconsistent with their self-view as important and competent people.”
Panaccio added: "It may be that, in the absence of an emotional bond with the organization, commitment based on obligation is experienced as a kind of indebtedness — a loss of autonomy that is emotionally draining over time."