New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 40: Rediscovering Meaning and Purpose at Work: The Transpersonal Psychology Background of a Burnout Prevention Programme
Dirk van Dierendonck, Bert Garssen and Adriaan Visser ‘Our need to believe that the things we do are meaningful is our way of dealing with the fear caused by facing up to our mortality. To avoid and deny death we need to feel heroic, to know that our lives are meaningful, that we matter in the large “cosmic” scheme of things’ (Bekker, 1973). As work becomes more dynamic and decentralized, organizations frequently change their structure, and the only constant factor seems to be change itself, with the consequence that employees become more and more physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. There is an increasing recognition of the organizational costs and the negative consequences for the employees and the organizations of stressful workplaces (Paoli, 1997). Consequences include high turnover, absenteeism and poor performance, both in terms of productivity and in the quality of work. It is, therefore, not surprising that a number of intervention and prevention programmes have been developed. Until now, most stress management and burnout prevention programmes have been limited to a cognitive–behavioural focus, aiming at cognitive restructuring, didactic stress management and relaxation (Pines and Aronson, 1988). Burnout is generally viewed as a long-term stress reaction speciﬁc to those individuals who have been working under unrelieved stressful conditions for too long. The term ‘burnout’is a metaphor that refers to the draining of energy; that is, more energy is lost than replenished, comparable to a car battery, which will run empty if not enough energy is generated from the...
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