Stress Warning: Don't Stay in Job Because You Feel Obligated

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In a study of individuals' perceived commitments to their employers, Concordia University researchers have shown that employees who stay in their jobs out of a sense of obligation or a perceived lack of employment alternatives are more likely to become emotionally burned out or exhausted.

The results of the study are published in the journal Human Relations.

Researchers surveyed 260 employees, both managerial and non-managerial, across a number of industries and the public sector. The respondents were asked about their reasons for staying with an organization, including whether they felt the organization's goal and values were consistent with the employees' and whether they felt obligated to stay.

Among those who felt a lack of employment alternatives, those who were most negatively affected were the ones with the highest self-esteem. The researchers hypothesize that this results from the conflict between a belief in one's own self-worth and a perceived lack of worth in the eyes of others.

Another seemingly paradoxical result from the study was that when employers invest in training their employees (thereby giving them more transferable skills and making it easier for them to find jobs elsewhere) their employees are more likely to feel a positive emotional connection to the company and are more likely to stay.

Ultimately, the study shows that perceived obligation without a corresponding emotional connection leads to a loss of personal agency, which in turn can cause emotional burnout.

Source: Human Resources