Supervisors managing sickness absence and supporting return to work of employees with burnout: A membership categorization analysis
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CitationKärkkäinen, Riitta. Kinni, Riitta-Liisa. Saaranen, Terhi. Räsänen, Kimmo. (2018). Supervisors managing sickness absence and supporting return to work of employees with burnout: A membership categorization analysis. Cogent psychology, 5 (1) , 1551472. 10.1080/23311908.2018.1551472.
Supervisor support alleviates burnout, but little is known about supervisors’ activities in supporting employees with burnout. This study discerned supervisors’ category-bound activities during the absence management and return-to-work (RTW) process of employees with burnout, and activities where the supervisors need support and guidance, from the perspective of occupational physicians and RTW coordinators in Finland. Data from semi-structured interviews and essays were analyzed with membership categorization analysis (MCA). First, occupational physicians and RTW coordinators saw supervisors as key actors in managing sickness absence and supporting RTW of employees with burnout. The large number of supervisors’ category-bound activities was discerned before the prolonged sickness absence, during the sickness absence, at work resumption, and after recovery from burnout. Second, supervisors were seen by occupational physicians and RTW coordinators as requiring support in implementing organizational absence management and RTW policies and procedures and communicating about burnout-related matters. The results of this study challenge occupational health services and employers to develop education for supervisors to improve their management practices as well as education for supervisors and employees to improve mutual communication to prevent and reduce burnout-related absenteeism and disability pensions. Further research of supervisors’ activities is needed from the perspectives of supervisors and the employees with burnout.