Toward an Understanding of the Burnout Phenomenon

Susan E. Jackson, Richard L. Schwab, Randall S. Schuler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

525 Scopus citations


It has been argued recently that employee burnout is an identifiable and important phenomenon, especially in human service occupations, but empirical data about burnout are relatively scarce. We report the results of a study designed to test several hypotheses about the burnout phenomenon. Burnout is defined as a three-component syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of low personal accomplishment. Burnout was hypothesized to be associated with both unmet employee expectations and job conditions. Hypothesized consequences of burnout included (a) preferred job type, (b) subsequent thoughts about leaving, (c) job-search behaviors, (d) training received, (e) intentions to leave, and (f) voluntary leaving. Participants in the study were elementary and secondary school teachers who responded to two questionnaires mailed to their homes. One year elapsed between completion of the two questionnaires. Regression analyses of time-lagged data (N = 248) support many of the hypothesized correlates of employee burnout, but improved conceptualizations about the burnout phenomenon are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-640
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1986
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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