Unit 1: Leadership skills required for safeguarding


1.14 Organisational stress and burnout

“The Duty of Care is fundamental. How do we expect to care for affected populations if we’re not taking care of our own?” IVCA / CHS alliance, 2021 p7

In her article on burnout, Huffington describes the phenomena as a ‘workplace crisis’, now with its own definition from the World Health Organisation:

“A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three key factors: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.” Huffington (2019)

This article is not specifically focused on the international aid sector and research suggests that burnout rates in the sector may be two to three times higher than the general population. While this may not sound surprising, given the challenging nature of much of the work in the sector, what might be more surprising is the extent to which organisational factors contribute to this burnout.

Activity 1.7 Stress and the role of organisations

Listen to the following audio which is part of an interview with Dr Liza Jachens who has researched this topic and consider the relevance of her conclusions to your organisation. Note any ideas in your learning journal.

View transcript

Listen to the second part of the audio, in which Dr Jachens also talks briefly about how organisations might respond to issues of mental health in their workforce, for example, being proactive not just reactive and challenging stigma.

View transcript