Category Archives: Mental Health

Contributions to Low Morale, Part 1: Review of Existing Literature on Librarian and Library Staff Morale

Source: Emily C. Weyant, Journal of Library Administration, Volume 61, Issue 7, 2021
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Significant research has been done on morale within libraries, focusing on librarians as teachers, administrators, staff, and faculty members. This review is the first in a series of two with the intention to provide perspective on contributors to low morale in librarians and library staff. The second part of this review will be forthcoming and will discuss ways to improve morale in these populations.

…While some supervisors harbor biases that negatively impact employees, others lack awareness of library practices. When librarians are supervised by managers without library experience, librarian/library staff morale may suffer as their purpose and positions may not be understood or appreciated by their supervisors…. Societal understanding of and attitude toward those with disabilities can also impact morale within libraries for relevant employees. Oud notes a general lack of understanding of disabilities in the workplace. She states that disabilities are frequently viewed as an individual’s problem that should be addressed only on an individual level. Therefore, organizations may not fully examine their processes, assumptions, and way of making decisions as they relate to all employees, including ones with disabilities. ….

Are You Burned Out? Or Is It Something Else?

Source: Kandi Wiens and Peter Loper, Harvard Business Review, October 14, 2021

Whether we’re feeling pressure from a looming deadline, tension from a strained work relationship, or compounding stress from a myriad of work issues, lack of engagement is inevitable. When those feelings related to work stress become debilitating, we often automatically jump to labeling our experience as burnout. But not all feelings associated with work stress are consistent with the full psychological syndrome of burnout. Examining and characterizing your stress-related feelings are the first and most important steps to connecting to the support that will be most helpful given your unique experience. The authors offer three questions to ask yourself to help you determine whether the feelings you have are consistent with burnout or if they’re something less serious that could lead to burnout if left unchecked.

Like migraines, burnout isn’t just a little pain or irritation that interrupts your day — it often results in significant functional impairment. It may feel excruciating and debilitating, and it causes feelings of intense emotional exhaustion, extreme cynicism, and minimal professional efficacy. Determining whether you’re experiencing burnout is extremely important, since it’s associated with increased long-term risk of serious medical problems like atrial fibrillation, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol that can lead to coronary artery disease…

Consistent with Kandi’s research, perhaps you’re experiencing one of these feelings, and not the full syndrome of burnout. To help you clarify, consider the following questions.

Do you feel you deserve more? If you feel underappreciated, undervalued, or taken for granted, you may not feel as effective at work as you know you can be. Few things are more demoralizing in a professional setting than working hard and going unnoticed. These feelings are typically the result of an absence of extrinsic reinforcement — feeling worthy of more recognition and/or respect from others….

Do you frequently think, “This isn’t what I signed up for”? If you often feel disappointed at work or question whether you’re in the right place, it’s likely that you’re experiencing feelings of disengagement. …

Do you work to keep up or do you work to escape? If you’re feeling emotionally exhausted, but generally have a positive attitude toward work, you’re likely experiencing feelings of overextension caused by overworking. …. Lance’s psychological experience is one of overextension, and this is distinct from the feeling of being both exhausted and cynical, two core symptoms of burnout.

An Intersectional Approach to Studying Burnout in Local Government

Source: Cynthia Wilkes, Thai Le and William Resh, Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, July 26, 2021

From the abstract:
This paper empirically examines the simultaneous influence of multiple dimensions of individual identity on employee burnout. We advance a better understanding of disparities in individual well-being outcomes for public servants. Using conservation of resource (COR) theory and applied intersectionality, we deconstruct burnout to look at differential vulnerability to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and loss of personal accomplishment for individuals at the intersection of gender, racial, and generational identities. Using survey data from a sample of over 6,000 local government employees across two neighboring large cities in California, we estimate the impact of intersectional identities on different dimensions of burnout. Our results show that younger generations of women of color are particularly vulnerable to burnout, but the experience of burnout is not uniform across groups, with each dimension of burnout revealing different vulnerable groups. These findings highlight the importance of deconstructing burnout into its discrete dimensions to better understand the experience of different socio-demographic groups of employees and develop culturally competent strategies to better support an increasingly diverse public workforce.

What You’re Getting Wrong About Burnout

Source: Liz Fosslien, MIT Sloan Management Review, August 26, 2021
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The burnout crisis is here, but many managers are failing to address the root causes of stress for employees.

…As an expert on emotions at work and head of content at Humu, a company focused on workplace behavioral change, I help leaders and managers improve well-being within their teams. Over the past year, burnout has become a top concern within organizations, and for good reason. In 2020, 71% of employees experienced burnout at least once. Across Humu’s enterprise customers, 62% of employees have reported feeling overwhelmed by work responsibilities, and 32% have said they are emotionally drained. And research from Qualtrics shows that stress and burnout are the main reasons people are thinking of leaving their jobs in the coming months and year — a time economists have already dubbed “The Great Resignation.”

In response, many leaders have started offering additional vacation time, established “no meeting” blocks on the calendar to give employees a break from back-to-back video calls, and encouraged people to take breaks throughout the day.

These are all helpful measures, but on their own, they’re usually not enough to turn things around for exhausted employees. That’s because work overload is only one cause of burnout. Too often, organizations fail to acknowledge — let alone address — other dimensions. The Maslach Burnout Inventory, the first clinically based measure of burnout, also measures cynicism and feeling ineffective at your job. And our research at Humu shows that lacking a sense of meaning and not receiving the emotional support you need to thrive are also strongly related to feeling stretched too thin….

The Dark Side of Leadership and Workplace Mistreatment: A review of Creativity and Innovation

Source: Vahid Mehraein, Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, no. 1, 2021

From the abstract:
The critical role of social influence in determining creativity and innovation is undisputed in the scientific circles of organizational behavior. Research has typically tended to focus on positive leader behaviors and positive social influences on creativity and innovation and has generally concluded that such behaviors promote these often-desired outcomes. In contrast, our work takes an unorthodox approach by bringing together research on the dark side of leadership and workplace mistreatment to join the conversation of creativity and innovation with darker perspectives of leadership and organization. In this study, we begin by defining the dark side of leadership and then provide a comprehensive systematic review of 163 empirical studies that address this topic. These studies address 35 leadership and workplace variables (abusive supervision, authoritarian leadership, aversive leadership, close monitoring, coercive power, conflict with co-worker, controlling supervision, counterproductive work behavior, defensive silence, despotic leadership, destructive leadership, directive leadership, hubristic leadership, incivility, jeer pressure, knowledge hiding, laissez-faire leadership, linguistic ostracism, Machiavellian leadership, management by exception (active), management-by-exception, management-by-exception (passive), mobbing, narcissistic leadership, organizational politics, ostracism, overconfident leadership, passive leadership, psychopathic leadership, relationship conflict, self-serving leadership, sexual harassment, supervisor undermining, workplace bullying, workplace deviant behavior) known to predict negative employee and organizational outcomes. This paper reports the main effects but also summarizes the results of mediating and moderating variables and provides useful taxonomies. Finally, recommendations for future research directions provide insights into areas worth considering.

Abusive Supervision and Employee Empowerment: The Moderating Role of Resilience and Workplace Friendship

Source: Ayesha Arshad, Peter Y. T. Sun, Fabrice Desmarais, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, March 30, 2021
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From the abstract:
Several studies have explored why employees leave their organization in the face of abusive supervision. However, there is a lack of research on what makes employees continue with employment despite being affected by abusive supervision. This study responds to the calls made to analyze multiple mechanisms that employees use to cope with abusive supervision. It addresses this gap by examining employees’ psychological and social resources that can mitigate the effects of abusive supervision. We specifically consider employee psychological and structural empowerment, as well as resilience and workplace friendship. This is a time-lagged study using a sample of 146 postgraduate students who have a minimum of 2 years of work experience. Utilizing the tenets of conservation of resources theory, we find that damage to psychological empowerment plays a significant role in diminishing the work engagement and creativity of employees, as compared to structural empowerment. We also find that workplace friendship plays a significant role in weakening the damaging effects of abusive supervision on structural empowerment. Future studies should consider other psychological and social mechanisms that can mitigate the effects of abusive supervision. Moreover, organizations should work toward developing a culture of sharing and support between coworkers.

The prevalence of work-related suicides varies by reporting source from the National Violent Death Reporting System

Source: Corinne Peek-Asa, Ling Zhang, Cara Hamann, Jonathon Davis, Carri Casteel, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 7, July 2021
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From the abstract:
Both suicides overall and work-related suicides are increasing in the United States, and efforts to reduce suicide risk will require an understanding of the frequency and role of work in suicides. This study examines the incidence of occupational suicides using the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), which identified the role of work in suicides using the traditional death certificate as well as from death investigations.

NVDRS suicides among those aged 16 through 65 from 2013 through 2017 were examined to determine if the death certificate identified the death as work-related, if the death investigation identified a job problem as a suicide circumstance, and if the death investigation indicated that the job problem was a crisis at the time of the suicide.

Overall, 1.13% of death certificates identified the suicides as work-related, 2.34% of suicides included a job crisis, and 11.2% a job problem, and proportions did not vary over the years of the study. Overlap between the death certificate and death investigation was very low, with only 0.21% of suicides identified as related to work by both sources. Identification of work-relatedness varied by source for demographic characteristics, mechanism of suicide, and occupation. For example, the death certificate identified 2.1% of suicides among those working in protective services as work-related, but death investigations identified 15.2% as having a job problem.

Work-related factors may be associated with a far higher proportion of suicides than previously documented.

Stress at Work: Individuals or Structures?

Source: A C L Davies, Industrial Law Journal, Advance Access, April 23, 2021
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From the abstract:
Stress is a significant practical problem in modern workplaces. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than half of all working days lost to ill health each year are attributed to stress, depression or anxiety. This article offers an overview of the occupational psychology literature on workplace stress, focusing on the job demands–resources or JD-R model, developed by Demerouti et al., and highlighting two important points: first, that stress at work is not just about excessive job ‘demands’ but also about inadequate ‘resources’ to cope with those demands; second, that stress-related ill-health is not just a matter of vulnerability on the part of the individual worker, but is also about the way in which the workplace is organized. The article then draws on these insights to offer a critique of the way in which health and safety law and tort law approach workplace stress, arguing that both bodies of law are overly focused on treating stress as a matter of individual vulnerability. It concludes by drawing out some broader implications of the occupational psychology literature for areas of employment law less obviously related to workplace stress, and for casual or platform working.

Does Going Back Into the Office Freak You Out?

Source: Amy Silver, Harvard Business Review, April 23, 2021
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With companies considering redesigning physical office spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments, chances are, depending on your job, your sector, and your leadership team, at some point you’ll need to go in to work. And this might be making you anxious. As we try to socialize and adjust to yet another “new normal” by engaging with people at work like we did in a pre-pandemic world, the exact focus of our worries and fears will vary. To manage your fears, there’s a few things you can do.

  • Understand what impact fear can have on your work. When our fear system is activated, we go into fight-or-flight mode. This means we can become distracted, our thoughts become more muddled, and decision making becomes more biased as our brain tries to make short cuts and we are more likely to make bad decisions.
  • Learn how to manage your fear. Be compassionate to yourself and know that it’s okay to feel this way. Then recognize your triggers and reactions. Does being in a crowded elevator scare you? Or running into coworkers when you go to fetch your coffee?
  • Separate your “fear” voice from what you want to do. Fear’s job is to keep us safe, and it does that by pushing us to choose short-term, protective behaviors (like running away, or avoidance) in a given situation rather than behaviors that will serve us in the longer term (facing something more rationally).

The Retention of Educators of Color Amidst Institutionalized Racism

Source: Ain A. Grooms, Duhita Mahatmya, Eboneé T. Johnson, Educational Policy, Vol 35, Issue 2, 2021
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From the abstract:
Representing approximately 20% of the workforce, educators of color (EOC) leave the field at a rate 25% higher than their White counterparts. Despite workforce diversification efforts, few studies investigate the psychosocial consequences of navigating racialized school climate as reasons EOC may leave the workforce. This study relies on survey data collected from educators of color (paraprofessionals through superintendents) across the state of Iowa. Applying a critical quantitative research design, we examined factors that link racialized school climate to their job satisfaction and psychological well-being. Findings indicate that a racialized school climate has a significant, direct effect on EOC’s race-based stress and professional racial self-efficacy. We argue that solely focusing on the retention of educations of color acts as a distraction from dismantling the institutionalized racism that continues to permeate our school systems.

How race-related stress could be driving educators of color away from the job
Source: Ain Grooms, The Conversation, April 13, 2021

When teachers of color experience high levels of race-based stress in schools, they can also have an increasingly negative sense of belonging, according to new research.

For the study, we analyzed survey data from educators of color across Iowa. To get at whether they were experiencing race-based stress, we asked whether the educators felt supported raising concerns with their peers about racism in schools or if they felt the need to ignore or avoid it. I conducted this research along with my colleagues – education researcher Duhita Mahatmya and community and behavioral health professor Eboneé Johnson.

Teachers reported less support from colleagues than did principals. Over 75% of the teachers in our sample (175 out of 229) reported a negative sense of belonging, especially when they thought school districts would not devise policies to actively address equity and racism.