Existential Fulfillment, Work Engagement and Job Burnout
Existentially inclined researchers define burnout as a form of existential vacuum that is characterized by apathy, boredom and lack of interest in relationships. Recent studies have witnessed a shift towards positive perspective that rephrases job burnout as the erosion of work engagement. It conceptualizes the way people relate psychologically with their jobs as a continuum between the negative experience of burnout and the positive one of engagement and fulfillment. Engagement predicts workers’ outcomes, organizational success, and financial performance. The changing psychological contract at the work place has majority of employees either not fully engaged or disengaged leading to an engagement gap that is a recipe for burnout. In research, burnout has been related to many person-specific variables. Two of these, existential fulfillment and work engagement have received little attention in research. This paper explores the relationships between existential fulfillment, engagement and burnout, as well as the contribution of the first two concepts to burnout. In a cross-sectional survey a random sample was drawn (n = 106) from a population of high school teachers. They were given a questionnaire that included demographic, existential fulfillment, burnout and engagement items. 89 respondents (which constituted a response rate of 84%) filled the questionnaire. The average age was 34 years and 60 percent of respondents were female. Participants had been in their current station for an average of four years and had on average 12 years of work experience. Existential fulfillment was positively correlated with engagement and both variables negatively correlated to burnout. These findings have significant implications for positive organizational behaviour and human resource development. It also demonstrates the importance of work engagement and existential fulfillment for the prevalence and prevention of burnout.
- Master of Education