Burnout and job satisfaction: a quantitative survey of workers providing services to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Greece

Issue 30

“Burnout and job satisfaction: a quantitative survey of workers providing services to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Greece”

Konstantina Psallida, Fotini Kalogerogianni, Christos Parthenis

Pages 50 – 76

Anxiety is one of the most frequently mentioned concepts in people’s daily lives, and the fact is that it has been referred to as the ‘modern epidemic’ (Goldstein, D., & Kopin, I., 2007). The person who suffer from anxiety can also face symptoms of burnout syndrome. The symptoms indicating that someone is suffering from burnout syndrome can include sleep disturbances, muscle fatigue, depression, as well as negative feelings about work. Individuals who seek to derive meaning in their personal happiness through their work are more susceptible to burnout. Researchers initially focused on categories of workers providing services under conditions of emotional pressure and strain. Antoniou and Tzavara (2005) state that individuals who are dedicated to their work, work long hours over extended periods, and those employed in professions that cater to established human needs are at greater risk of developing burnout syndrome.
Professional satisfaction can have numerous implications for different aspects of an individual’s professional life. Among the most critical effects concerning job satisfaction are an individual’s productivity and performance in their work. Employee’s productivity is considered one of the most significant factors for anorganization’s or a service’s performance. While an employee’s interest in his job does not necessarily guarantee satisfaction, increased, or decreased productivity and satisfaction can be attributed to other factors such as salary, recognition, and the work environment (Kantas, 1998; Greenberg et al., 2000).
During 2015, a huge number of people arrived by sea in Europe, seeking for asylum. According to official Eurostat data for 2015, the EU has accepted 4.5 million migrants, more than any other year in history. The majority of individuals came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, with the main entry points into Europe being through southern Italy and the Greek islands in the northeastern Aegean. Greece, who is acting as the connecting link between Asian and African countries and Central Europe, became one of the main reception countries for the large refugee numbers. In Greece, in 2015, of all refugees who crossed the Mediterranean, arrived the 84%, a percentage that led to what we now refer to as the ‘refugee crisis’ (Kasimati & Panagiotopoulou, 2018).
Due to the refugee crisis in recent years in Greece and in combination with the increased needs of the mobile population characterized by various vulnerabilities, there has been an increased demand for both specialized and unskilled personnel. Local and international organizations were seeking employees to fill positions in the programs they were implementing. The specialties that were in high demand mainly included frontline professions, such as medical and nursing staff, psychologists and mental health specialists, social workers, social scientists, lawyers, rescuers, interpreters, and intercultural mediators, educators, cleaners, chefs, security personnel, drivers, as well as specialties that supported program implementation, such as administrative personnel (accountants, economists, communications managers, human resources managers, etc.). As mentioned in the literature review, people on the move are facing many difficulties, their requests are very demanding and difficult to manage, while the available resources cover very basic things. This can lead to burn out and lack of job satisfaction for the personnel who are supporting these populations. The psychologi cal burden and distress are more pronounced in those who directly respond to the primary needs of people
in distress, the so-called “first responders” (Ehrenreich & Elliot, 2004; Jachens, Houdmont & Thomas, 2019).
Personnel working in emergency situations are working many hours under pressure, in challenging conditions with a significant degree of uncertainty. Workers in the humanitarian aid face insufficient managerial and organizational support, a factor often cited as the primary psychological stressor. Additionally, individual encounters with terror, risk, and human suffering demand emotional resilience and potentially affect the mental health and well-being of employees and volunteers. The organizations who are exposing their staff to extreme work conditions should provide to them support to mitigate the potential psychosocial consequences of crisis from work. To ensure the effectiveness of organizations, project managers should ensure the health
of their personnel, necessitating a systematic and comprehensive approach in all phases of employment and at all levels of the organization, including emergency situations (IASC, 2018).
The goal of this research is to explore the levels of professional burnout and job satisfaction among workers providing services to refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in Greece. According to the literature, workers serving vulnerable groups experience a sense of fatigue and exhaustion from their work, a sense of futility as they are unable to achieve their goals, low expectations from their work, a significant workload, and often programs are implemented with minimal staff. In many cases, workers are unfamiliar with the procedures in the organization they work for, communication does not meet their expectations, they do not receive any feedback, positive or negative, about their work, and their relationships with colleagues may be negatively
affected. This can lead to professional burnout and a lack of job satisfaction. Based on international literature, the sources of stress for those working with refugee populations can be summarized as follows: the lack of resources, personal time, and technical support required to meet the demands of the work, constant exposure to risk, chronic uncertainty, and an imbalance between effort and reward within the work environment(Ehrenreich & Elliot, 2004; Jachens, Houdmont & Thomas, 2019).
The study involved the participation of 203 employees across Greece, who completed the survey and filled in a questionnaire consisting of 3 parts, which assessed job burnout and job satisfaction. Methodologically, the internationally recognized questionnaire of psychologist Christina Maslach, Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), was used to measure burnout and the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) of Paul Spector to measure job satisfaction.

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