Children receiving residential treatment today have more severe psychopathology than in prior years (Leitchman, 2001). This increase in psychiatric severity means that residential treatment milieu staff are faced with increasingly disruptive and aggressive behaviors (Kruger, Botman, & Goodenow, 1991). Further, staff work long hours (Heron & Chakrabarti, 2002) and receive the lowest pay among any of the mental health workers within the organization (Decker, Bailey, & Westergaard, 2002). All of these factors can combine to create a state known as "burnout."
This study examined a person job fit model of burnout by using both individual-level variables (e.g., the Big Five Inventory, demographics, empathic concern) and a measure of organizational climate (Maslach's Areas of Worklife survey; AWLS) to predict scores on the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) among a group of children's residential treatment center staff in Illinois. Three hundred and seventy five surveys were collected from staff at 21 children's residential treatment centers (RTCs). Information was gathered on demographics, personality traits, empathic concern, communicative responsiveness, organizational context, and burnout. This study first examined the structure of Maslach's AWLS measure using Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA; Jöreskog & Sörbom, 1996). A modified measurement model consisting of 5 correlated factors (workload, rewards, community, fairness, and values) provided a good fit for this sample of children's RTC staff. Additionally, path modeling found that staff ratings of their perceptions of workload match was the strongest predictor of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, while perceptions of community, fairness, and values were the strongest predictors of personal accomplishment.
Then, a multi-level modeling strategy was employed to investigate if organizational context (AWLS scales, training, and job satisfaction) predicted burnout when controlling for individual characteristics (age, neuroticism, extraversion, empathic concern, and communicative responsiveness). Results indicated workload, community, fairness, values, job satisfaction, age, empathic concern, communicative responsiveness, neuroticism, and extraversion predicted burnout on the MBI. Further, specific person job fit interactions were tested examining the relationship between individual characteristics and work environment (e.g., AWLS) on burnout; however, no significant interactions were found across the analyses. The results are discussed in terms of the implications for personnel hiring and preventing and reducing staff burnout during employment.