There is a lot to be said about occupational stress, burnout and work satisfaction. However, finding the ideal career field can be a challenging task all by itself, and even more difficult with the pressures of financial hardships. As a result, some people may not have the luxury to concern themselves with obtaining employment that offers work satisfaction. Then again, a person may only be interested in making a good honest living, getting the bills paid and enjoying a reasonable lifestyle. Others may happen to enjoy going to work everyday, regardless of their pay because they feel that what they do makes a difference and that brings them overall fulfillment. (Harper & Leicht, 2011). Due to working in high-stress jobs or toxic work environments, people tend to develop health complications caused by stress and burnout. Being abled to manage occupational stress is not only vitally important for Employers, but it is necessary, so as to conserve the overall health and wellbeing of those working in high-stress jobs. (Harper & Leicht, 2011). Several employers come to mind concerning job stress and burnout. For example, I worked in the public school system as a fifth grade teacher for two years.
I earned a two-year temporary license and in order to remain teaching, I would have to pursue getting a permanent (five year) teaching credential. After the two years of teaching in the public school system ended, I realized I no longer wanted to pursue teaching as a career. I came to that conclusion due to high stress and burnout. My personal experience as a teacher was spoiled by the many difficulties that transpired. It seems, teachers are overworked, underpaid and undervalued. Teachers are told to do more with less and are held to high standards, despite the overcrowded classrooms and budget-cuts. I believe the expectations of teachers to maintain classroom management, prepare students to test well and properly address inappropriate behavior is overall unrealistic. I think that these unrealistic demands on teachers are hurting the teaching profession. Moreover, “In recent years, our educational system has become the target of widespread scrutiny and criticism, while at the same time the rewards of teaching are often obscured by the difficult working conditions that are prevalent in many of our schools. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin, para 5).”
Against this backdrop of heightened job pressure and reduced professional satisfaction, it is not surprising that alarming statements have been issued repeatedly in the educational literature about the growing prevalence of teacher stress and burnout. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin). What is stress and what contributes to stress? “The two factors that determine job strain are job demands (workload, deadlines, etc.) and decision latitude (i.e., autonomy and control). (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin, para 22).” I experience work based on how what I do, makes me feel, and the impact it has on the lives of others. The stress response is viewed as the result of a negative interaction between person and environment (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin, para 8).” The contributors to the stress response of teachers are: (lack of support from Administration, uncooperative parents, insubordinate students and an toxic work environment). It was found that teachers who reported that they had supportive supervisors and indicated that they received positive feedback concerning their skills and abilities from others were less vulnerable to burnout. (Russell, Altmaier, & Velzen, 1987).
Furthermore, when the amount of effort required and expended exceeds the occupational rewards attained the individual will experience stress and may suffer health problems. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin). These are some of the matters that steer the health effects caused by stress and teacher burnout – by the which, has been reported to be of epidemic proportions throughout schools in America. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin). As a former YMCA employee, I was given an opportunity to engage youth from various backgrounds to participate in healthy competition with regard to building self-esteem through organized sports and other positive activities. I also worked as a Youth Counselor for the Baptist Student Union while in College.
What I enjoyed most about that particular job was being able to encourage youth through role-playing exercises, group meetings, prayer/devotionals and community dinners. Both Y.M.C.A and Youth Counselor jobs were not good paying jobs, but it really did not matter because I had work satisfaction to make up for it. In regards to the teaching profession, “It has been reported that teacher stress and burnout inevitably affect the learning environment and interfere with the achievement of educational goals insofar as they lead to teachers’ detachment, alienation, cynicism, apathy, and absenteeism and ultimately the decision to leave the field. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin, para 12).”
It has become evident that he potential negative ramifications of these occupational hazards on the educational system of a “nation at risk” are even more alarming. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin). Not only are the employees suffering as a result of job stress and burnout, but also the repercussions negatively impacts the success and welfare of the Department of Education as a whole. On my other job, I considered myself blessed to be in a position to assist over 200 struggling families become self-sufficient and what I really enjoyed most was the smiles, tears and words of gratitude; you could say, this was the type of job that paid me twice. In contrast, my dad spent his entire life working to put food on the table for us. I consider him to be an honorable man, who demonstrated character and integrity by working for over 40 years of his life taking care of his family. However, I would say that my dad did not have work satisfaction, because he ultimately wanted to become a motivational speaker and guitar player.
Even though, he had a very stable job working as an electrician with a good salary and benefits – I remember him telling my mom that he wanted to walk away from his job because he felt like he was robbed from doing what he loved. Work satisfaction, refers to obtaining work fulfillment, good pay, job benefits, promotion prospects, and job security, as well as having a degree of decision latitude and control. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin). Since, he is currently retired and all of my siblings have moved out and started families of our own; my dad spends most of his time playing the guitar, reading his speeches at church events and school functions. I feel that in order to avoid a high degree of job stress and burnout, people should strive to approach employment like a calling, and not merely a way to pay the bills.
As stated, working in high-stress jobs or toxic work environments, people tend to develop health complications caused by stress and burnout. Most employees, but more specifically teachers, remain in negative situations because they are afraid to try something different or they are compelled to carry the financial burden of paying bills, which may lead to burnout or increased stress on the job. On the other hand, reports show that teachers are beginning to explore other less stressful options. (Guglielmi, Sergio, Tatrow, Kristin). Overall, I count myself lucky to have experienced work in a positive way because so far, I had the opportunity to live out my dreams doing what makes me happy as well as impact the lives of others.
Guglielmi, R Sergio; Tatrow, Kristin. Review of Educational Research68. 1 (Spring 1998): 61-99. Harper, C. L., & Leicht, K. T., (2011). Exploring social change, America and the world (6th Ed), Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson Education, Inc.
Russell, D. W., Altmaier, E., & Van Velzen, D. (1987). Job-related stress, social support, and burnout among classroom teachers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72(2), 269-269. Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com/docview/213937205?accountid=32521