From Burnout to Engagement in Project Managers.
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Workplaces are hypercompetitive and stressful environments. Stress and burnout affect bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of quality of life and the spillover effects disturb home and workplace dynamics. Project managers are not immune to burnout. Project managers are pressured to deliver projects on time, within budget and to changing client expectations on scope (often due to over optimism, inexperience or greed). This paper bridges the psychosocial and management domains by describing a study designed to apply a burnout and work life instrument to project management. Burnout in project managers is an under researched topic. The proposed instruments for the study are well-known and based on research by Maslach and Leiter. The paper will discuss the literature on burnout and engagement as well as the limited research evident on stress in the project management field. The paper will also discuss the concept of care in management and its relevance to fostering and engaged workplaces. The mixed methods design involves surveys and interviews to gather information on how project managers cope with burnout. Burnout consists of exhaustion, cynicism and professional inefficacy. In contrast, energy, involvement and professional efficacy comprise engagement. The areas of worklife span workload, control, rewards, community, fairness and values. The proposed benefits will contribute to employee well-being, healthier work environment and improved project success, thereby enhancing organizational productivity. The paper will discuss the study design as well as the challenges of cost-effectively gathering data. Techniques to enhance response rates will also be discussed. The survey research questions focus on the predictive values of the six areas of worklife categories on each dimension of burnout. Sample questions follow: I feel emotionally drained from my work (burnout); I do not have the time to do the work that must be done (areas of worklife). The qualitative part of the study will involve interviews. Sample questions follow: What makes worklife more engaging (meaningful, important)/less engaging to you? How do you cope? Aspects related to grounded theory methodology including using software such as Atlas TI will also be highlighted. Burnout is a societal challenge and presents opportunities for prevention and intervention. Knowing what may increase engagement could forestall burnout in project managers. This mixed methods study proposes to examine burnout and engagement self-perceptions and the social context of project work.