There are many reasons why people leave their jobs, and burnout is probably the most common. That’s according to Kronos Incorporated, an American multinational management consulting firm, which conducted a 2016 study on IT employee engagement. According to the study, 46 percent of hiring managers cite burnout as the cause of 40 percent of annual turnover.
Losing employees comes at a significant cost to the organization. According to Josh Bersin, analyst and founder of Deloitte, the cost of replacing an employee is approximately twice the employee’s annual salary (2013). This means that the average cost of turnover is between 40 and 54 percent of an organization’s payroll. This is a fact that should not be ignored given the high likelihood of experiencing burnout at work. Spring Health, a leader in workplace behavioral health research, conducted a study in 2020 involving 1,136 employees from various organizations. The results showed that 76 percent of the participants experienced emotional exhaustion and burnout at work.
This scenario leads to more attention on aspects that can prevent or mitigate states of exhaustion and burnout in organizations. The literature on this topic identifies three psychological constructs that are particularly useful in preventing, mitigating, and managing recovery from job burnout: grit, resilience, and recovery strategies (GRR). This line of research aims to test for the existence of a significant and positive relationship among the three constructs, triggering standard dynamic processes such as goal orientation, conservation of personal resources, and optimal management of one’s energy. Specifically, grit is determined by the degree of passion and persistence toward goals (Duckworth et al., 2009). This construct redefines the level of effort people are willing to accept in order to achieve their goals: gritty people show more persistence in completing a task at a given moment and over the long term (Duckworth et al., 2007). Thus, grit provides individuals with the resources they need to achieve long-term career goals. In addition, over time, people develop an adaptive capacity that enables them to respond quickly to difficult situations: resilience. Resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to adapt as best he or she can to the context in order to cope with and overcome difficulties. It thus implies the attitude of not giving up in the face of adverse or traumatic events and being able to turn them into an opportunity for personal development. Finally, the last construct of the model concerns recovery strategies: the processes of psychological distancing from work that can reduce tension and stress levels accumulated over time. Preliminary research indicates a mediated relationship between these constructs and progressive causal improvement over time. Grit predicts the development of resilience, which in turn precedes the development of recovery strategies.
The practical implications of this study suggest intervention strategies designed to improve task orientation through the process model described. Indeed, a theoretical and practical link would allow for the development of useful training to improve awareness of the concepts of grit, resilience, and recovery. For example, HR practitioners often confuse grit with the concept of psychological resilience. This distinction could be clarified by presenting some classic definitions of both constructs and emphasizing how the resilience culture of “keeping on keeping on” can be replaced by practices based on stress-related recovery strategies. Grit is mistakenly associated with short, intense efforts, although the original definition presents an opposite construct, more akin to the ability to “run a marathon” (Littman-Ovadia & Lavy, 2016).
All of the Research Center’s scientific publications related to this area of research are available at the following link.
Joyce, S., Shand, F., Tighe, J., Laurent, S. J., Bryant, R. A., & Harvey, S. B. (2018). Road to resilience: a systematic review and meta-analysis of resilience training programmes and interventions. BMJ open, 8(6), e017858.
Duckworth, A. L., Quinn, P. D., & Seligman, M. E. (2009). Positive predictors of teacher effectiveness. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(6), 540-547.
Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance (Vol. 234): Scribner New York, NY.
Littman-Ovadia, H. & Lavy S. (2016) Going the Extra Mile: Perseverance as a Key Character Strength at Work
Rutter, M. (1985). Resilience in the face of adversity: Protective factors and resistance to psychiatric disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 147(6), 598-611.