This season, we’ve been exploring the value of the nonprofit workforce in our society, the challenges facing nonprofit workers, and the need for foundations, donors, and government to invest in the nonprofit workforce. Today we’ll be diving more deeply into the topic of burnout, one of the signature challenges we face in our field, and one of the symptoms of the deficit of investment in nonprofit people.

In today’s season 1 finale, we speak with Dr. Christina Maslach is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Burnout: The Cost of Caring.  She is best known as one of the pioneering researchers on job burnout, and the author of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), the most widely used research measure in the burnout field. Dr. Maslach gives us a deep dive into her research agenda, approaches, and findings over the years. We discuss her definition of burnout and some strategies to identify areas that can be improved in order to increase meaning, positivity and solutions to burnout in the workplace.

Tune in to today’s episode to hear about:

  • Dr. Maslach’s personal and professional journey into her work on burnout
  • Her perspective and research into what defines burnout and how it relates to caring work
  • The six areas of Person/Job fit and Burnout
  • How looking at these areas can help to provide opportunities to increase meaning, positivity and solutions to burnout in the workplace

Bio: 

Dr. Christina Maslach is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her A.B., magna cum laude, in Social Relations from Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1967, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford in 1971. She has conducted research in a number of areas within social and health psychology. However, she is best known as one of the pioneering researchers on job burnout, and the author of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), the most widely used research measure in the burnout field. In addition to numerous articles, her books on this topic include Burnout: The Cost of Caring; the co-edited volume, Professional Burnout: Recent Developments in Theory and Research (with Wilmar Schaufeli); The Truth About Burnout (with Michael Leiter); Preventing Burnout and Building Engagement: A Complete Program for Organizational Renewal (with Michael Leiter), and Banishing Burnout: Six Strategies for Improving Your Relationship with Work (with Michael Leiter). The latter publications are based on Professor Maslach’s work as a consultant with various organizations on issues of job burnout. Currently, she is the founding co-editor, with Michael Leiter, of the e-journal, Burnout Research, which launched in 2014. She is also a core researcher with Healthy Workplaces, an interdisciplinary center at the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Links to the books mentioned during the episode: 

 

Burnout: The Cost of Caring

This 2011 reprint of the pioneering 1982 work of Christina Maslach offers new ideas and fresh perspectives on understanding burnout. Illustrated with numerous first-hand accounts and examples of burnout, the book explains what causes the feeling of emotional exhaustion, the sense of indifference to other people’s problems, and the formation of the belief in one’s inability to help and relate to others. This insightful guide is written for everyone who has extensive contact with other people in his or her work and personal life, and it will help show people how to beat burnout.

 

The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It

Today’s workforce is experiencing job burnout in epidemic proportions. Workers at all levels, both white- and blue-collar, feel stressed out, insecure, misunderstood, undervalued, and alienated at their workplace. This original and important book debunks the common myth that when workers suffer job burnout they are solely responsible for their fatigue, anger, and don’t give a damn attitude. The book clearly shows where the accountability often belongs. . . .squarely on the shoulders of the organization.

 

Job Burnout is A Billion-Dollar Problem. Can We Fix It, Despite COVID-19?

University of California blog post about burnout, includes a discussion of Dr. Maslach’s work

 

Dr. Maslach has a brief chapter, “Overcoming burnout,” in an edited volume called Working for Peace: A Handbook of Practical Psychology and Other Tools (2006).  Although the book is aimed at peace work, it is relevant for any kind of social activism, so you might check that out.

 

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Thank you for tuning in to Season One of Fund The People, a Podcast with Rusty Stahl! We will be taking a break from podcasting for the first quarter of 2021. We will return in mid-to-late March 2021. Although be sure to subscribe to the show, as we may pop up with a special bonus or two during our hiatus.  When we come back, Season Two will focus on the idea of talent-investing, our modest proposal for changing how we do fundraising and grantmaking, so that we turn the nonprofit starvation cycle into the nonprofit nutrition cycle. We’ll have more mega-watt guests from foundations, nonprofits, academia, and beyond. So be sure to stay tuned to Fund the People: A Podcast with Rusty Stahl!

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