Presentation Title

Empathy and Burnout among Volunteers with Varying Degrees of Person-Organization Fit

Advisor Information

Lisa Scherer

Location

Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom

Presentation Type

Poster

Start Date

8-3-2013 9:00 AM

End Date

8-3-2013 12:00 PM

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to begin to understand the causes of burnout among volunteers in non-profit organizations. Burnout consists of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion (Pines & Aronson, 1988). High person-organization (PO) fit, “the compatibility between a person and an organization” (Sekiguchi & Huber, 2011, p. 203), should attenuate volunteer burnout due to sharing values and personality attributes with the organization and fellow volunteers. Empathy was proposed to moderate the relationship between PO fit and burnout. Empathetic individuals might be more likely to volunteer as well as to suffer emotional overload, and therefore burnout, especially when their fit to the organization is poor. Poor PO fit, particularly for highly empathetic individuals, may lead to frustration, a redoubling of efforts, and burnout. We therefore predicted an interaction between level of empathy and PO fit, such that under poor fit, highly empathetic volunteers would experience greater burnout compared to those with lower levels of empathy, whereas level of empathy would not differentially predict burnout under high PO fit. Data gathered from 55 volunteers who work with a national urban renewal organization supported our hypotheses. Volunteer empathy moderated the influence of PO fit on burnout as predicted. The current study contributes to the literature investigating burnout among volunteers by looking specifically at their feelings of fit with the organization and the extent to which their individual empathy influences that relationship. We would also encourage additional scholarship on the identification of factors that maximize volunteer well-being and minimize their stress and burnout.

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COinS
 
Mar 8th, 9:00 AM Mar 8th, 12:00 PM

Empathy and Burnout among Volunteers with Varying Degrees of Person-Organization Fit

Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom

The purpose of this study was to begin to understand the causes of burnout among volunteers in non-profit organizations. Burnout consists of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion (Pines & Aronson, 1988). High person-organization (PO) fit, “the compatibility between a person and an organization” (Sekiguchi & Huber, 2011, p. 203), should attenuate volunteer burnout due to sharing values and personality attributes with the organization and fellow volunteers. Empathy was proposed to moderate the relationship between PO fit and burnout. Empathetic individuals might be more likely to volunteer as well as to suffer emotional overload, and therefore burnout, especially when their fit to the organization is poor. Poor PO fit, particularly for highly empathetic individuals, may lead to frustration, a redoubling of efforts, and burnout. We therefore predicted an interaction between level of empathy and PO fit, such that under poor fit, highly empathetic volunteers would experience greater burnout compared to those with lower levels of empathy, whereas level of empathy would not differentially predict burnout under high PO fit. Data gathered from 55 volunteers who work with a national urban renewal organization supported our hypotheses. Volunteer empathy moderated the influence of PO fit on burnout as predicted. The current study contributes to the literature investigating burnout among volunteers by looking specifically at their feelings of fit with the organization and the extent to which their individual empathy influences that relationship. We would also encourage additional scholarship on the identification of factors that maximize volunteer well-being and minimize their stress and burnout.