Researchers in Virginia recently conducted a study of assisted living facilities in their area in order to understand worker burnout. Despite a lot of research focusing on staff burnout in other industries, as well as other sectors of long term care, nursing home and assisted living staff have not been examined very thoroughly.
The study was conducted at four nursing homes and assisted living centers with a sample of 363 staff members. After controlling for demographic differences, the researchers discovered that role conflict, workload, and stress were the strongest predictors of burnout among staff.
Role conflict is a term that researchers use to indicate a situation when the expectations that come with a job do not match up with the reality of the job. This reality could include conflicting demands between different roles and/or situations where job descriptions do not match the actual job being performed. Role conflicts can result in high workloads and role ambiguity. Workload was also a major predictor of burnout in this study.
Nursing home and assisted living organizations should work to reduce role conflict in their organization. This will have an impact on the workload and stress factors that lead to job burnout and turnover. Ensuring that roles are clearly defined and functional within the work environment, are just a starting point for reducing burnout. Focus on empowering employees to make decisions within these clearly defined roles as much as possible.
Source: Rai, G. 2010. Burnout among long-term care staff. Administration in Social Work 34: 225-240.