It has been a long known and proven fact that respite can have a large impact on job stress and burnout. For most Americans a vacation from work is a relaxing break from the daily stress of life. The vacation they choose depends on time off work and their personal preferences. The researchers in this study believed that any respite from work would serve to lessen job stressors and burnout. The respite they chose was active army reserve service.
The researchers hypothesized that the importance of a respite lies in the change or break from the work routine. They also stated that a traditional vacation may not be the best respite from ones job. During reserve service the individual is almost completely detached from their everyday life. Not only by geographical means but also by psychological aspects all well. Though the daily routines of reserve service may very well be stressful in themselves, they still serve as a change from those of work and home. Fax machines, email, laptop computers, and cell phones find their way into many Americans retreats.
With advancing technology an individual may find it harder and harder to escape their job by means of a traditional vacation. Researchers broadening knowledge of respite as it relates to job stress and burnout may very well change the type of vacation we choose in the future. The findings of this study are consistent with the researchers hypothesis. The study was conducted on 81 matched pairs of employees at a large engineering plant. The matched pairs were derived from employees with similar credentials. One individual in the pair being called for reserve service for more than 14 days, and the other as a control that would not be called.
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The researchers were very careful in selecting the pairs, as they started with 4, 500 employees and ended up with only 162 employees. All of these employees were male between the ages of 27 and 54 with an average ag of 38. A perceived job stressor measure was used to determine each employees stress before and after the service. A burnout measure was also used before and after the service.
The control set of employees also took part in the tests at the same times before and after their counterpart served. The results of the study supported the authors stress respite hypothesis. The employees who had been called for reserve service came back to work feeling as though their stress and burnout had diminished. Whereas the control group of employees reported no change, in some cases their stress and burnout increased. The results are displayed in a series of graphs and tables representing the difference in each group as it relates to stress and burnout, and whether or not they were called for service. This study is important in the research of respite on job stress and burnout because it shows that the type of respite taken can make a substantial contribution to the amount stress and burnout alleviation.
It has been shown in this study and others that detachment plays a major role in the quality of any given respite. The more detachment from home and job related activities, the more stress and burnout are alleviated. This research directly relates to the subject of stress discussed in class. The topic of stress alleviation was also mentioned in class and was the major concentration of this study. The subject of stress and burnout has long been a problem in the workforce. As new types of work are evolving new problem will always arise.
One aspect of the industry that may have increasing amounts of stress and burnout are those relating to auto manufacturing. The introduction of lean production practices into the industry may give new importance to this research, as some critics have described lean production as management by stress. The study was very interesting and provided me with a new outlook on the effects of respite on job stress and burnout. The article was very easy to understand and follow.
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I found the tables and graphs to be fairly simple and after reading the accompanying text they became crystal clear. Citation Eden, D. , Et zion, D. , Lap idot, Y. 1998.
Relief From Job Stressors and Burnout Reserve Service as a Respite. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 577-585.