Warrington research shows reflecting on work reinforces employee resilience to burnout

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  As concern over employee health and well-being continues to grow among businesses across the world, new research from the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida suggests that simply talking about how employees are doing at work at the end of each day contributes to employee resilience to burnout.

Yifan Song

Management Ph.D. Candidate Yifan Song, along with colleagues from Tel Aviv University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and University of Haifa, proposed in a new paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology that reflection-related debriefs reduce demands and enhance control and support among teams. They posited that team reflexivity, or reflection-based team debriefs, would have beneficial implications on three core dimensions of employee burnout including exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy (reduced personal accomplishment).

To test their theory, Song and colleagues conducted an experiment using a sample of 469 unskilled manufacturing workers employed in 73 production teams, with half of the teams practicing team reflexivity for a brief period of time (around 13 minutes) at the end of their shift, and the other half only periodically practicing post-shift team-building exercises.

The findings largely supported their theory – conducting team reflexivity activities on a daily basis significantly increased team members’ control of their job, as well as employees’ support of each other, which subsequently reduced employee burnout. They also found that these effects were stronger on teams whose members worked together for a longer time.

Song and colleagues’ findings have important theoretical and practical implications for employees around the world. With little research and managerial attention paid to unskilled manufacturing workers, whose jobs are often repetitive and unstimulating, these workers are prone to burnout. As this research demonstrates, though, there is an effective and easily-implementable way to prevent burnout among employees. By simply debriefing and practicing team reflexivity, employees can perceive greater control of their work and are more likely to support each other at work, boosting well-being and mental health.

Read the full research in the April 2018 edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology.