The Conflict Between the Interventions That Prevent Burnout and the Culture of Modern Capitalism: The Benefits of Ambivalent Emotions

Simon Moss, Grace Couchman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    At work, burnout is one of the most pervasive impediments to mental health. Over the last decade, researchers have distilled six workplace conditions that prevent or curb burnout: feasible job demands, a sense of fit with the job or organisation, recurrent experiences of reward, a feeling of control, a perception of justice, and a connection with the community. Unfortunately, the emerging culture of modern capitalism is characterised by fluctuating demands, aversions towards specialisation, systemic disloyalty, unilateral resolutions, expedient decisions, and transactional relationships — trends that counteract the conditions that prevent burnout. Initiatives that are instituted to curb burnout, therefore, often contradict the imperatives of managers. To resolve this paradox, this article distills a series of initiatives that psychologists can apply to alleviate burnout without counteracting the prevailing culture of modern organisations. To illustrate, employees should be encouraged to seek challenging and stressful experiences, invoke their intuition when composed, and disclose their personal anxieties. This article then integrates these initiatives into a unified theory. According to this theory, practices that prevent burnout all increase the likelihood that individuals experience positive and negative feelings concurrently; these ambivalent emotions seem to enhance wellbeing and contain burnout.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-24
    Number of pages12
    JournalThe Australian and New Zealand Journal of Organisational Psychology
    Volume5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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