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Addressing RA Retention and Burnout

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1 Addressing RA Retention and Burnout
Jonathan Buchner Patrick Herman Andrew Johnson NWACUHO February 8th, 2010

2 Outline Outcomes Research and Results Burnout
Defining burnout Common reasons for burnout and how it functions What we can do as professionals During training Throughout the year Programmatic impacts: hiring on the calendar year Discussion

3 Outcomes By the end of this presentation, we hope you will:
Better understand how burnout functions Have strategies for addressing burnout Consider how programmatic methods and structure can impact burnout Collaborate with each other about burnout prevention

4 Research We asked 40 northwest ACUHO affiliated schools. 20 responded.
Questions: How many undergraduate RA positions do you have in your residence life program? In each of the last fives years, how many RA’s have not completed the term for which they were hired? In each of the last five years, how many RA’s have been rehired after completing at least one term? We also invited them to comment on the most common reasons for RA’s not finishing their terms.

5 Results Schools ranged from having 4 to 104 RA’s
On average per year in the last 5 years: 9 schools lost fewer than 5% of RA’s 7 schools lost between 5% and 10% of RA’s 4 schools lost greater than 10% of RA’s Burnout was mentioned as one common cause of RA’s leaving in addition to academics, conduct issues, and various lifestyles incongruent with the RA job.

6 Defining Burnout Burnout as “the gradual loss of caring about the people with whom one works.” (Maslach in Berman, p. 10) The Maslach Burnout Inventory (Hardy, 1998, p. 499) Emotional Exhaustion Depersonalization Reduced Personal Accomplishment Burnout prevention is through education and organizational change.

7 Why Is Burnout an Issue? Unmotivated RA’s underperform
As students, we are also responsible for the welfare of our RA’s. Fully Motivated RA Competent RA Lack of investment RA Leaving Burnout

8 Common Reasons for Burnout
Academic, social, and extra-curricular commitments Lifestyle conflicts Role modeling, crisis management, time management, availability, interpersonal skills, fishbowl Emotional investments and codependency (Hetherington, 1988) Chronic everyday stress (Maslach in Berman, p. 11)

9 Paradigms of Burnout Perpetuation
Ash’s Paradigm (Ash in Berman, p. 10) Gung-Ho Guilt Chronic Fatigue & Disillusionment Self-Defeating Behavior (Hornak, 1982) Blaming Comparing Meeting expectations of others Labeling Distorting Feedback

10 What We Can Do As Professionals
Preemptively Address Burnout: Training and Self Care Recognize and Discuss Burnout Openly When It Occurs: Self Care Throughout the Year Considering Programmatic Impact: Hiring on the Calendar Year (The Whitman Model)

11 Training and Self Care Self reflection Preemptively discuss burnout
Myers-Briggs Self-exploration workshops Preemptively discuss burnout Recognize personal limitations Empower RA’s Teach about self care Set self care goals for training and beyond Teach time management Model self care Professional sleep lecture Guided yoga/meditation

12 Self Care Throughout the Year
Self-reflective and meaning-making opportunities One on ones Personalized Logs Staff meeting check-ins Leaving the bubble Staff retreats and meals Staff bonding Staff health Spontaneous interactions Community Service Appreciation RA appreciation days RA’s planning programs for other RA’s Encouraging RA’s to maintain support networks

13 Hiring on the Calendar Year
RA selection in October-November Second-semester sophomores and juniors are hired as RA’s RA’s start after an 11 day training in January 5 day opening week preparation in August New RD’s are hired for the academic year to start in August

14 Advantages to the Calendar Year
Impact on burnout RA’s get a 3 month summer break New residents for returning staff Other benefits Acclimated residents for new staff Overlapping RA/RD schedule Easier transition if an RA leaves between semesters Other opportunities (Greek, SA, study abroad)

15 Disadvantages to the Calendar Year
Impact on burnout Integrating RA’s into established communities Differing expectations between RA’s and returning residents Other disadvantages Shorter winter break Only two possible RA terms Mid-year housing for leaving RA’s

16 Questions?

17 Group Discussion What are the common causes of burnout at your school and how does it affect retention? In what ways have you seen burnout addressed in RA training programs? Do you have any other ideas? In what ways throughout the year do you or could you address RA burnout? How does the structure of your RA program impact burnout? Do you have any ideas for changes?

18 References Benedict, J., & Mondloch, G. (1989). Factors Affecting Burnout in Paraprofessional Residence Hall Staff Members. The Journal of College Student Development, 30, Berman, J. Burnout and Retention. Retrieved January 25th, 2010 from: Hardy, S., Dodd, D. (1998). Burnout among university resident assistants as a function of gender and floor assignment. ). Co-Dependency and Resident Assistants. The Journal of College Student Development, 39, Hetherington, C., & Kerr, B. (1998). Co-Dependency and Resident Assistants. The Journal of College and University Student Housing, 18, Hornack, J. (1982). Resident Assistant Burnout: A Self-Defeating Behavior. The Journal of College and University Student Housing, 12(2), Maslach, C (1982). Burnout: The cost of caring. New Jersey: Prentiss Hall Inc.


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