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Supporting early-career psychologists and social workers: Psychological flexibility moderates between isolation at work and cognitive weariness
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7574-9679
Uppsala University, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2018 (English)In: , 2018Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The focus of this paper falls on ‘new’ employees; more specifically, social workers who start their first position after their studies, and psychologists who start their first position after their one year of practical training, following completion of their studies. This work firstly makes the assumption that both social workers and psychologists are exposed to emotionally demanding situations in their work life – even from early on. Early on in a new chosen career may typically be the time when a new employee experiences the least ability to influence their work – for example whom they work with and what kinds of tasks they work on. Also, this may also very likely be the time such an employee feels most isolated from other professionals in the same occupation – One is typically employed for one’s unique skills, but works with other professionals, with different skills sets. Lastly, how successfully one perceives oneself to have transitioned from academic to professional life may be an influencing factor.

A postal survey was sent to 5213 (respondents=2514, not target group=103, response rate 49%) psychologists and social workers in Sweden who had graduated within three years of the spring of 2017. In the analysis, psychology students who had not yet reached independent registration as psychologist were also excluded (Final sample=2224: 642 psychologists; 1582 social workers)

The central hypothesis was that emotional demands, perceived influence at work, and experienced isolation at work may contribute to the burnout (as indicated by the dimensions of cognitive weariness and physical fatigue) of psychologists and social workers. The paper set out to investigate a regression model where work-related variables relates to two dimensions of burnout (physical fatigue and cognitive weariness). Work-related variables to consider were self-rated transition from studies to work, emotional demands, influence at work and professional isolation, and work-related psychological flexibility was considered as a moderator.

Regarding physical fatigue, the results (34% explained variance) show that females and younger employees scored higher. Working as a psychologist vs. as social worker was not a significant predictor. In terms of the independent variables, a successful transition between studies and work (self-rated), emotional demands, influence at work, isolation at work and psychological flexibility all made significant direct contributions to physical fatigue. No evidence of moderation was found.

Regarding cognitive weariness, the results (35% explained variance) show that females scored higher. Age, and whether employees were working as a psychologist vs. as a social worker were not significant. In terms of the independent variables, a successful transition between studies and work (self-rated), emotional demands, influence at work, isolation at work and psychological flexibility all made significant direct contributions to cognitive weariness. A test of interaction effect showed that there is a positive relationship between cognitive weariness and isolation at work, for individuals who also score low on psychological flexibility.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology; Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-152168OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-152168DiVA, id: diva2:1251840
Conference
The 13th Conference of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology, 5-7 September, Lisbon – Portugal.
Available from: 2018-09-28 Created: 2018-09-28 Last updated: 2018-09-28

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