Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 2 2008, page 78-92.
English resume

Experiences of attrition of psychological resources among senior employees in the Danish elderly care sector

Pernille Tufte, Thomas Clausen og Vilhelm Borg

Attrition of psychological resources is a concept that is being used yet more frequently in the public debate and also among employees in the Danish elderly care sector. Still, there is little conceptualization
of this phenomenon in a scientific context. The purpose of this article is to discuss and refl ect upon the content and meaning of the concept of attrition of psychological resources, as it is being used by senior employees in the Danish elderly care sector.
The article is based on data from 17 focus group interviews, carried out among senior employees in the elderly care sector in four different Danish municipalities. The analysis of the empirical data is based on Grounded Theory. By using an open and inductive approach, emphasis has been laid on the understandings and meanings, as they are being expressed by the employees themselves.
The article shows that the employees use the concept of attrition of psychological resources to describe a number of experiences, reactions and conditions, which all relate to the working conditions. Based on analysis of the data, three categories of working conditions are identified, relating to work content, the management and organisation and/or relations to the clients. The employees describe a number of problems and difficulties connected to the working conditions that prevent them from providing a care for the elderly recipients that is adequate from a professional perspective.
The analysis shows that the attrition of psychological resources initially manifests in the working sphere through experiences of frustration, mistrust, low job satisfaction and feelings of bad conscience towards the care recipients. Continuous experiences of attrition of psychological resources in the working sphere may subsequently spill over into the personal sphere through experiences of lack of energy, fatigue, dissatisfaction and – also here – feelings of bad conscience.
Furthermore, in order to assess whether the concept of attrition of psychological resources contributes with new knowledge it is compared to the concepts of burnout and stress. It is concluded that the concept of attrition of psychological resources cannot be fully contained in these two concepts, and accordingly, the concept of attrition of psychological resources appears to contribute with a new perspective on the consequences of adverse working conditions.
Attrition of psychological resources can be considered a central cause of job change, sickness absence and – voluntary or involuntary – retirement, and must accordingly be dealt with in order to be able to meet the future demands for labour in the elderly care sector.


Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)


 

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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
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