Burnout is a psychological syndrome, stemming as a response to chronic interpersonal jobs stressors, characterized by three principal dimensions: Exhaustion (the state of depletion of the individual’s emotional and physical resources due to the difficulties in facing customers’ demands); Depersonalization (the negative, off-putting and extremely distant reaction to diverse facets of the job); reduced Personal Accomplishment (referring to reduced self-esteem concerning competence, achievement and productivity at work). (Maslach and Jackson, 1981).
The stream of reforms that has recently changed the Italian School, by favoring educational deregulation and increasing levels of autonomy for school boards, has increased Burnout levels among school teachers, who may feel thorn between their internal expectations (personal beliefs, motivations and professional style) and the external pressures emerging not only from students, but also from a more and more demanding school organization, oriented towards efficiency. Various contributions have posited that in the Burnout prevention a pivotal role is played by the Interpersonal Trust at work both among teachers and between teachers and the School Manager (Ceyanes and Slater, 2005; Timms et al., 2006; Van Maele and Van Houtte, 2014), and by a good School Climate perception (Aron and Milicic, 2000; Dorman, 2003; Grayson and Alvarez, 2008).
The present contribution aims at analyzing the relation between each of the three aspects of Burnout and, respectively, the diverse facets of Interpersonal Trust and the components of School Climate. Data have been collected by means of a survey encompassing three well-known instruments, namely the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI; Maslach and Jackson, 1981), the Interpersonal Trust at Work (ITW; Cook and Wall, 1980) and the Revised School Level Environment Questionnaire (SLEQ-Revised; Johnson et al., 2007). 120 teachers have been interviewed in six schools of Southern Italy, in the period between March and May 2014.
Globally, results suggest the importance of Interpersonal Trust and School Climate in the prevention of Burnout. Exhaustion was negatively and significantly correlated with the dimension of Interpersonal Trust concerning the Faith in intentions of Peers, and with three dimensions of School Climate, namely, Student Relations, Instructional Innovation and School Resources. Depersonalization was negatively and significant correlated with three out of the four dimensions of Trust (with the exception of Faith in intentions of Management) and with two dimensions of School Climate, namely, Student Relations and School Resources. Finally, Personal Accomplishment was positively and significantly correlated with Faith in intentions of Peers and with Student Relations.
Hence, support programs focusing on these crucial dimensions, might be helpful in increasing teachers’ well-being and reducing the level of burnout.