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Regional Variations in Burnout Rates in a Natural Resources Agency

Author: DOUGLAS M. IHRKE and THERESA L. JOHNSON
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 25 No. 1

This study explores employee burnout within and across the four
administrative regions of the Natural Resource Conservation Service
(NRCS) based on the hypothesis that burnout levels will vary system-
atically with workload levels. Approximately 1100 District Conserva-
tionists (DCs), the front-line operating officers of the NRCS, were
surveyed. Results indicate significant variation in workload and
burnout levels but no significant association between these two
variables within and across regions. Further analysis revealed that a
number of important variables help to explain burnout across regions
including job design, functional unit cooperation, and adequate staffing.
Within regions, the variables that explain burnout are under the
categories of leadership, job design, human resource systems, and
agency policy. The authors make use of the research findings to
develop a set of organization development (OD) recommendations to
help the agency deal with burnout within and across regions.

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