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Draft a proposal for research on relationship between Job Demands which leads to exhaustion and emotional ill health. 

The effects of job demands on employee health and productivity

Today, competition among organizations is increasing due to the increase in global economy. This has created a difficulty for organizations in order to maintain their success and growth. To achieve the objective of the organizations and to compete with its business rivalries, organizations are pressurizing its employees. This increased in job demands from the employees is affecting their mental and physical health. Recent studies on maintenance of employee performance and health have showed both positive and negative impacts of the job experiences on mental health of employees. It is also described in studies how identified job resources and job demands are directly linked with emotional and psychological health of employees (De Beer, Rothmann Jr, & Pienaar, 2012). Thus, these potential stressors also impact not only health of employees but also results in reduction of their performance and productivity which ultimately results in affecting growth and productivity of the organization. Therefore, satisfaction and health of workers are salient features for every organization.  In order to meet the increasing demands of managing and performing their job responsibilities, employees have to deal with increasingly changing job environment, adjust themselves with complex careers, and remain healthy and motivated. This requires employees to get relevant resources to successfully manage their career and work (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004).

Demands can be defined as things that need to be done. When it comes to job, clearly all jobs require something has to be done by employees that lead to organization growth. Job demand aspects are those social, physical, organizational, and psychological of job that demand psychological and physical sustaining efforts and therefore, result in certain kind of psychological and physical costs (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). Job demands are divided into variety of different ways and several categories. But generally there are four kinds of job demands: cognitive demands include the process of brain involved in information processing that is difficulty level of work; quantitative demands include workload and time pressure; emotional demands includes efforts that are required in order to deal with organizationally desired emotions; and physical demands which includes musculoskeletal system to complete the job task that is static and dynamic loads (Verbruggen, 2009).

Job resources are means which include social, psychological, physical and organizational aspects; minimize job demands and the related psychological and psychological costs, helps in fulfilling work objectives, encourage personal learning, growth, and development. Job resources are important to meet the job demands, to get the things done, and are important in their own right. Similar to job demand, job resources comprise three components: emotional, cognitive, and physical. Emotional component are affection and sympathy from colleagues, cognitive component are information from handbooks and colleagues, and physical component are ergonomic aids (Ahola, 2007).

The role of job resources in reducing job demands and promoting employee well-being

Spiritual resources are distinct category of personal resources. Religious workers believe that the spiritual resources help in promoting lower exhaustion and better work engagement. This results in meditating on emotional ill health and reduced turnover intentions. Researches on these resources focus on absence of well-being and psychological stress. One’s spiritual life provide additional personal resources which help in increasing motivation for job and also prevent exhaustion and costs associated with it (Baka, 2015).

Prolonged stress on work causes emotional breakdown of employees. Therefore, job burnout is defined as a special type of stress related to work. This stress is to that extend where emotional and physical exhaustion causes a loss of personal identity and a sense of reduced accomplishment. Burnout is not a medical condition (Smhp, 2018). Even some experts consider that depression causes burnout. On the other hand there is some research that shows people who experience burnout do not consider their jobs as the main cause for their stress. However, some possible causes of burnout include: lack of control, lack of social support, unclear job expectations, extremes of activity, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, work-life imbalance, and several other of this kind (MayoClinicStaff, 2018).

Work engagement concept is relevant to organizations due to many reasons. Firstly, work engagement is linked to organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and low turnover intention. Secondly, it is related to learning and personal initiative. Work engagement mainly focuses on the positive psychology which emphasizes strengths and optimal functioning of humans instead of weaknesses and malfunctioning. Work engagement can also be considered as the positive opposite of burnout (Coetzer & Rothmann, 2007). Some features of engagement are dedication, vigour, and absorption which are just opposite to dimensions of burnout that are cynicism, exhaustion and inefficacy.

Mental health of a person is determined by how he feels, think, and behave. Most common problems of mental health are depression and anxiety. These are generally a reaction to difficult life events but these are also caused by work related issues. Minor or some work related stress is common but when work related stress is prolonged it lead to both psychological and physical damage including depression and anxiety. Work can aggravate pre-existing conditions, and problems at work can initiate its symptoms or even make its effects worse (Janssen, Peeters, de Jonge, Houkes, & Tummers, 2004). Therefore, it is the responsibility of employers to help their employees when work is causing health issue or aggravating it.

Availability of Job resources is a motivational process for the employees. One of the studies discovered that resources of job lead to work engagement. Job resources like job autonomy and training possibilities lead to the high work engagement. Other studies also show that amount of job resources has positive effect on work engagement. This positive relationship between these two is due to the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Nielsen, Mearns, Matthiesen, & Eid, 2011). Job resources bring out intrinsic motivation for the employees as availability of resources foster growth, and also provide learning and development of employees. Job resources provide information regarding the task where employees are facing difficulties and thus develop motivation into them. Job resources also provide extrinsic motivation for the employees as it helps them in achieving work goals. Job resources ensure satisfaction of employees and thus employees feel motivated to achieve the targets. Employees through intrinsic and extrinsic motivation obtain a positive mind set for work (Oshio, Inoue, & Tsutsumi, 2018).

The impact of burnout on employees and organizations

Studies have proved a positive relationship between job demands and burnout. Relation between these two variables shows an energetic process. Job demands like excessive work pressure, demanding content of work, and poor environment lead to burnout in over a three year period of time. This is because overload and continuous work pressure demoralise employees that slowly lead to decrease in their productivity which result in increase in work pressure and burnout ultimately. Lack of resources for particular task further results in increase in burnout (van Woerkom, Bakker, & Nishii, 2016).

Many researches in this field found positive relation between the job resources and the engagement of work. Job resources like performance, social support, feedback and autonomy enhance the work engagement. Job resources provide intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for the workers that enhance the strength and positive functioning of employees and this leads to achieving organizational goals, low turnover intention, job satisfaction, and personal learning and development of employees. However, lack of resources cause stress and burnout to employees. Hence, it can be said that job resources are negatively related to the burnout (Qin, Hom, Xu, & Ju, 2014).

Relation between these variables is explained by the COBE model. These four variables are co related with each other. This model is depended on two psychological processes related to job, namely motivational and energetic processes. Motivational process combines resources of job with outcome of organization via work engagement. And job demands are linked with health issues via exhaustion by energetic process. Exhaustion is mainly resulted due to job demands and shortage of resources that causes health issues which result in decrease in work engagement. Increase in job demands and shortage of resources to meet required demands result in burnout and ultimately results in less work engagement (Akkermans, Schaufeli, Brenninkmeijer, & Blonk, 2013). Whereas, if necessary resources are available to achieve the job demands then exhaustion is avoided and organizational outcomes can be met.

The first Job Demand-Resource model was created by Demerouti in order to understand background of burnout. This model identified eight job demands and 13 job resources as reason for possible burnout. Job demand components include work load, interpersonal conflicts, heavy lifting, and job insecurity. The JD-R model says that it requires additional efforts when the job demand is high in order to achieve goals of work and to avoid decrease in performance. To make extra efforts it definitely comes at the cost of psychological and physical costs like irritability and fatigue (Demerouti, Bakker, & Fried, Work orientations in the job demands-resources model, 2012). Workers look for break, performing less demanding tasks, or switching task in order to retain this extra energy. And when the recovery is not possible or insufficient then it will exhaust the employees mentally or/and physically. While, job resources include social, physical, and organizational aspects that helps in achieving work objectives, decreases job demand and thus reduce associated psychological and physiological costs, and promote personal improvement and growth.  The early model defined two processes for the burnout development. First was energetic component of burnout which includes excessive long term job demands that do not allow employees to recover that lead to sustained overtaxing and activation, and finally resulting in exhaustion (Bakker, Demerouti, De Boer, & Schaufeli, 2001). Second was motivational component which include shortage of resources for achieving job demands and lead to withdrawal behaviour and finally resulting in reduced motivation. Job resources eliminate the negative effects of job demands on exhaustion. In the study of Demerouti, it was observed that impact of job demands on burnout is more if employees do not get proper job resources. In a similar manner, effects of job resources on distrust are more if employees get too many job demands. This JD-R model was modified to involve a performance measure which was actually the result of burnout (Bickerton, Miner, Dowson, & Griffin, Incremental validity of spiritual resources in the job demands-resources model, 2015).

The concept of work engagement and its importance in promoting organizational outcomes

The revised model of JD-R was presented by Schaufeli and Bakker after the three years of early model. In addition to the burnout, work engagement was included in this model. According to this model, work engagement and burnout are examined to be mediators of the relation between job resources and turnover intentions, and job demands and health issues, respectively (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). This consideration gave a positive-psychological twist in this model. Thus, modified JD-R model not only seek explanation to negative psychological state that is exhaustion but also its alternative that is work engagement. Work engagement refers to the fulfilling and positive state of mind related to work, which is characterised by vigour: having high energy level and mental stability during work, dedication: indicates a sense of challenge, enthusiasm, and significance, and absorption: happily engrossed and focused in work (Bickerton, Miner, Dowson, & Griffin, Spiritual resources in the job demands-resources model, 2014). In similar to the previous JD-R model, modified model also assumes that exhaustion results due to high job demands and lack of job resource, but exceptional to this, burnout is now consider as a unitary in contrast to a two-dimensional construct. As burnout causes health issues such as cardiovascular problems, depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic complaints, therefore burnout bring out link between employee health and well-being and job demands. This is energetic component of revised model.

Source: (Hu, Schaufeli, & Taris, 2011)

In the same way, a motivational component of revised model operates on job resources. The modified model focuses on the motivational qualities of job resources. According to this theory, work environments that provide enough resources to achieve the job demands, enhances willingness of workers to give their best efforts and capbilities to complete the task. Hence, it can be said that job resources play the role of extrinsic motivation. However, job resources also play the role of intrinsic motivation as they fulfil basic needs of human for competence, relatedness, and autonomy (Brough, et al., 2013). This results in positive organizational outcomes, like performance and organizational commitment. Hence, engagement brings out relation between job resources and outcomes of organization.

From the various resources it has been found that there is a positive relationship between job demand and emotional burnout. The literature indicates that job demands are the predictor of burnout or emotional ill health. Different studies carried in this area have showed the same result that quantitative demands increases emotional ill health or emotional exhaustion (Jimmieson, Tucker, & Walsh, 2017).

The first prediction of this study is exhaustion occur due to the high job demands. This prediction depends on the reasoning that high job demands create a arousal state in employee which reflect in responses as ill health. Irrespective of the job type, when the job demand is high and there is lack of resources too, this develops an emotional exhaustion. Studies conducted in several organizations have confirmed that high job demands or the badly designed jobs cause mental and physical illness of employees resulting in the loss of energy which mediate exhaustion or burnout in employees (Qin, Hom, Xu, & Ju, 2014). Higher job demands result in greater exhaustion, while job resources make sure that employees have required resources to complete their work responsibility and thus lead to less exhaustion. Thus, it is proposed:

  • Hypothesis 1: Job demands are related positively with emotional ill-health.

Job resources enhance individual’s motivation and self-realization. As discussed above job demand is positively associated with emotional exhaustion. In recent times number of studies has been increased on occupational stress due to the increasing awareness regarding improving condition of working environment. To understand the direct effects of job demand, we are considering the study conducted by (Oshio, Inoue, & Tsutsumi, 2018). Sometimes job demand is also considered as the source of challenge rather than stress. Job demands become stressors when it demands lots of efforts beyond the limit of employee this results in emotional exhaustion or burnout.

Here, in this paper, two categories of police work are considered of job demand. First job demand considers inherent stressors of police, which describes the critical incident in work of police; it has the potential of physical harm and psychological harm. This includes violence, crime, physical threat, facing unknown, and exposure to danger. Second stressors for the police work are organizational stressors. These are results of structure and the functioning of the police force (Verbruggen, 2009). These stressors include poor communication, poor equipment, poor training, inadequate salaries, and exhausting work shifts. Most of the studies shown that job demands effects health of police personal than the operational job demand. The three job demands considered here: organizational constraints, interpersonal conflicts, and demanding workload, each of them are causing serious exhaustion. Out of these organizational constraints are related with the anxiety, dissatisfaction, frustration, burnout, and health issues. Out of all the sources of stress, workload is considered as the most common source of stress. This excessive workloads result in the poor physical and mental health and thus emotional ill-health (Bickerton, Miner, Dowson, & Griffin, Spiritual resources in the job demands-resources model, 2014).

Job burnout is considered as a psychological disorder which consists of three symptoms. These include depersonalisation, emotional exhaustion, and reduced personal accomplishment. As discussed above, JD-R model provided a new phenomenon on job burnout. Burnout in JD-R model is defined as the effect of long term work related stress which is caused by difficult job demands (van Woerkom, Bakker, & Nishii, 2016). In this framework, two components of job burnout are defined- exhaustion and disengagement. Studies carried out in the context of JD-R model shown that burnout bring out link between job demands and poor health. In one research by Hakanen, burnout brings out negative impact of people’s behaviour, workload, and poor working environment on mental health illness. In another study, where quantitative workload, emotional demands, and poor working conditions lead anxiety and depression due to the increased rates of job burnout (Hu, Schaufeli, & Taris, 2011).


Therefore, from the above discussion it can be concluded that, due to the increasing growth, it has become important to provide healthy and safe work environments to the employees. In this report different variables related to the occupational health are defined which includes job demand, job resources, job burnout, emotional exhaustion, and emotional ill-health or mental health. To understand the relation between all these variables, JD-R model was developed. Early JD-R model provides relation between job demand, exhaustion and mental health. This concluded that increase in job demands result in increase in stress to the employees. If this stress is remained for long time and the employee does not get proper recovery time, this will further result in mental illness. Revised model was developed for JD-R that included job resources too. This model concluded that job resources provide motivation to the employees and results in the reduction of workload pressure. This results in the exhaustion reduction and finally leads to the improvement in mental health. Report has also discussed the direct and indirect effects of job demand on the mental health. Researches have shown positive relation between job demand and mental health while job resources are negatively related with mental health. Here, two studies are taken to describe the direct and indirect effects of job demand on mental health. For the direct effect, study conducted on police force was considered which shows two job demands lead to direct mental health ill ness to the police officer which are inherent stressors and organizational stressors. However, indirect effects also explained by two studies which result in exhaustion first and then mental illness.


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