Job-Related Burnout Among Civilian and Sworn Police Personnel
journal contributionposted on 2014-02-19, 00:00 authored by William P. McCarty, Wesley G. Skogan
Employee burnout can affect workers’ health, motivation, and job performance, and speed staff turnover. In law enforcement, burnout has been attributed to a variety of job-related, organizational, and personal factors, ranging from the danger inherent to the job to the liabilities of late shift work, tension with supervisors, and gender relations in the organization. Overlooked in almost all of these studies has been the place of civilians in police work, and how their burnout experiences differ from – or resemble – those of their sworn counterparts. This study is based on surveys of both sworn and civilian employees of 12 police agencies from across the United States. In the survey they described their extent of emotional exhaustion, and reported on features of their lives and work that have been hypothesized to magnify or minimize this stress reaction. The study found that the burnout process is a universal one, driven by virtually the same factors among both civilians and sworn officers. Difficulties balancing work and life responsibilities, the support they receive from co-workers and supervisors, the fairness of personnel policies, and several personal factors contributed to burnout levels. The implications of these findings for both research and practice are also explored.