Burnout as an explanation for beginning teacher attrition.

Year: 2007

Author: O'Brien, Patrick, Keefe, Mary, Goddard, Richard

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Intention to leave an organisation is one of many human resource management issues that affects morale and so organisational climate. The present study investigates the hypothesis that early career burnout is significantly and positively associated with serious turnover intention in teachers at the beginning of their careers. A sample of 98 teachers working in their second year as teachers in Australia was surveyed in 2006 and confidentially asked about their perceptions of their work and whether they had any serious intentions to leave their job and/or their profession. Respondents were also administered the Educators’ version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI: Maslach, Jackson & Leiter, 1996). Twenty-eight respondents indicated that they were serious about intending to leave the school at which they were working. Ten of these respondents indicated that they intended to leave the teaching profession altogether. Significant associations between intentions to leave school/profession and all three MBI subscales were found. These findings replicate the results of two other independent studies investigating turnover intention and the experience of burnout in beginning teachers working in Australian education systems and calls for focussed human resource management strategies to address this serious problem. Together these studies provide strong support for the view that early career burnout is a realistic and straightforward explanation for high early career attrition rates that have been reported as problematic for the teaching profession in a number of countries including Australia.