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COVID-19 and Burnout among Healthcare Providers
Task 7 Section 1: Foundation of the Study
Doctoral Research Project I
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School of Business,XXXXX
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Dr. XXXXXXX
Author Note
I have no known conflict of interest to disclose.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to AXXXXXXXX
Email: XXXXXXX
List of Tables

List of Figures
Figure 1. Research Framework Diagram…………………………………………………… 27
Figure 2. Employee Engagement Diagram………………………………………………….51
Section 1: Introduction to the Study
The study is focused on understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic affected healthcare workers. It investigates the burnout experienced by health care providers since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the study examines the contributory role of leadership in shaping the exposure of healthcare workers to professional burnout. Leaders remain an effective support system in the healthcare domain due to the strategic quality interventional measures they integrate (Sultana et al., 2020). Therefore, the study evaluates how leaders exposed healthcare workers to professional burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary objective is to enable leaders to comprehend how to improve the working environment to ensure care providers deliver quality services in today’s setting and the future. Specifically, the inquiry determines if the Southeastern United States leaders failed to adopt proper COVID-19 response measures causing burnout among healthcare workers. It also investigates the appropriate response measures.
The study will adopt a variable case study design based on qualitative inquiry regarding methods (Kumar, 2018). The flexibility of the case study design allows the researcher to adjust the research methods based on the situation and target new participants if the selected are unavailable. The major participants of the study will include healthcare providers and leaders. Healthcare workers will respond to the burnout questions during the COVID-19 pandemic and whether their leaders took effective response measures. On the other hand, leaders will respond to difficulties experienced and measures to prevent and avoid burnout from healthcare workers (Kumar, 2018). The case study is appropriate to the current inquiry since, in addition to direct responses, the scholar will investigate situations in real-life situations (Kumar, 2018).
Consequently, the effective data gathering methods will comprise questionnaires, and interviews, which will help triangulate the facts collected (Park et al., 2020). Fundamentally, a positivist approach will help establish the objectivity of the current study (Park et al., 2020). Generally, the methods facilitate the attainment of the research objectives.
The following section shows the relation of the existing research with the current study. Section one encompasses the background to the problem and the problem statement. The background of the study and problem statement will guide the researcher in framing viable research questions, objectives, and hypotheses. Following these will be the research design approaches that will focus on the paradigm, design, and selected data collection methods. These are essential elements that will determine the success of the study. For example, the selected data methods will determine the information collected and its likelihood of supporting the targeted outcomes. The research framework will develop a viable link between key concepts and theories used in the research (Part et al., 2020). After discussing the framework segment, the study defines the assumptions of the research, limitations, and delimitations. Some of the challenges and assumptions surrounding the research are highlighted. The study’s contribution is noted in the final segment of the paper, which shows the paper’s relevance in line with the research conducted. The evidence generated is supported by the list of references and appendices used for the research purpose.
Background of the Problem
Professional burnout among leaders based in the healthcare industry has become a prevalent problem since the COVID-19 pandemic (Jalili et al., 2021). As Jalili et al. (2021) believe, healthcare workers have become increasingly prone to burnout due to the care and attention they provide to their patients. With the rising number of patients in dire need of services, healthcare professionals have become increasingly exposed to exhaustion. The absence of strategic frameworks has denied these professionals the opportunity to advance their health and well-being when caring for patients (Khasne et al., 2020). Research shows that healthcare professionals have continued to blame their leaders due to the lack of adequate preparedness in handling the COVID-19 menace (Khasne et al., 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed healthcare workers to different mental strains emerging from the continued care provision. Additional research shows that burnout among healthcare staff members continues to attract attention due to the leaders’ inability to address arising issues (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are significant gaps in leadership, responses, and strategies that continue to place healthcare providers at risk of physical and emotional problems.
Burnout is a primary occupational issue in the care sector, with leaders playing a vital role and responsibility in managing this problem (Sultana et al., 2020). Sultana et al. (2020) argued that leaders should use quality interventional measures to ensure healthcare providers achieve a stable emotional, physical, and mental status. Due to the rising concern over the health and welfare of healthcare providers, institutional leaders must adopt quality policies and strategies to prevent burnout. Lack of effective participation at the top leadership level has posed a threat to the healthcare system. Sultana et al. (2020) stressed that misunderstandings and work-related strains are common challenges likely to emerge with a lack of adequate leadership participation, leading to increased burnout among healthcare providers. The well-being of COVID-19 patients relies on the health status of the care providers. Therefore, leaders must remain committed to creating strategic frameworks that reduce professional burnout.
Problem Statement
The general problem is healthcare leaders’ failure to develop a strategic framework in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in increased burnout among healthcare professionals. According to Jalili et al. (2021), because leaders fail to develop a strategic framework, there is an increased level of professional burnout among healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients. In a recent study, Khasne et al. (2020) found that many healthcare professionals blamed their leaders for lack of preparedness to deal with COVID-19, resulting in mental strain for the caregivers. A similar study by Lasalvia et al. (2021) reveals that burnout among healthcare staff members during the pandemic is an issue of concern. Still, leaders have not done enough to mitigate the adverse implications. Sultana et al. (2020) supports this issue by stating that burnout is a major occupational problem among healthcare providers, and leaders have a critical role in developing intervention measures. The specific problem addressed in this article is the potential failure of senior healthcare leaders within the South-Eastern United States to establish adequate response and preparedness to deal with COVID -19, resulting in a possible increased burnout among healthcare professionals.
Purpose Statement
The purpose of this flexible single case study aims to understand the inability of healthcare leaders in the South-Eastern United States area to create and implement potential response measures for addressing professional burnout emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. The researcher will select healthcare workers and leaders to offer their ideas and perspectives about healthcare management and the administration’s impact on staff burnout during the pandemic. The targeted population will relay viable information that will answer the research questions. The research will focus on two major concepts: professional burnout and leadership. First, the study will investigate the increasing emotional and physical exhaustion among healthcare providers with COVID-19 infections (Cotel et al., 2021). Second, in examining leadership contribution, the research will assess leaders creating the environment to address the burnout constructs. The results obtained from this research will supplement existing studies focusing on leadership strategies likely to develop a potential working environment for care providers during healthcare pandemics. This research will inform leaders on the courses of action they can take to advance the health and well-being of healthcare professionals amidst the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the future, these leaders can potentially improve the handling of burnout based on the successful implementation of the approaches obtained from this research.
Research Questions
Given the burnout rate of healthcare providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these research questions aim to provide leadership with skills and interventions to reduce burnout in the healthcare profession (Sultana et al., 2020). Leadership will learn first-hand knowledge that can bring understanding to the problem and improve the rate of burnout (Zang et al., 2018). The study will combine open- and close-ended questions to achieve comprehensive research. Zhang, Liao, and Srivastava (2018) explain that combining available- and close-ended questions is highly beneficial to research because it reduces the chances of participants being bored during the study and dropping out, which attributes to the use of feature elicitation that minimizes dialogue length. However, the most critical questions to the research are the open-ended questions because they are more comprehensive (Allen et al., 2017). As Allen (2017) explains, open-ended questions in research designs such as surveys and interviews allow participants to express themselves using views that may be unprecedented, extreme, or unknown to the researcher. The research questions will seek to draw information on the perspectives and opinions held by various health workers who have experienced or are familiar with burnout. The research questions will gather sufficient factual data on the recommendations and solutions provided by the participants during the professional interaction with the interviewers (Khasne et al., 2020). The following are the main questions and sub-questions to be used in the research:
RQ1: How is professional burnout prevalent in healthcare among the nursing staff?
RQ1a: Why have nurses deemed the most affected medical staff by professional burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic? 
RQ1b: Why is professional burnout prevalent among the nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic?
RQ2: What are the leadership failures in addressing the professional burnout in healthcare organizations?
RQ2a: How do the leadership failures affect the response toward professional burnout?
RQ2b: How have leaders failed to address professional burnout among healthcare workers? 
RQ3: What proposals could address professional burnout among healthcare workers?
RQ4: How do healthcare management and administration affect staff burnout at hospitals in the wake of COVID-19?
How the Research Questions Relate to the Study Purpose
RQ1: How is professional burnout prevalent in healthcare among the nursing staff?
RQ1. Arguably, the COVID-19 pandemic had an unpreceded impact on the medical community (Essex et al., 2021). In this research question, the researcher investigates whether COVID-19 poses a risk of professional burnout to the medical team. The researcher focuses on the nursing workforce because it accounts for the most significant part of the medical community. This research question obtains evidence that will show why nurses are the most affected people by professional burnout during COVID-19. Therefore, this will help develop evidence-based solutions.
RQ1a: Why have nurses deemed the most affected medical staff by professional burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic? 
RQ1a. The researcher examines why COVID-19 leads to professional burnout among nurses. The question highlights why nurses are the most affected professionals in the COVID-19 pandemic (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Nurses are the frontline medical workers who cater to the overwhelming number of patients due to the rapid spread of the disease and hospitalization (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Therefore, they are deemed the most affected medical staff by professional burnout.
RQ1b: Why is professional burnout prevalent among the nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic?
RQ1b.This question investigates how COVID-19 contributes to professional burnout within the nurse population. The research question addressed why professional burnout was prevalent among nurses during the COVID-19 era (Cotel et al., 2021).
RQ2: What are the leadership failures in addressing the professional burnout in healthcare organizations?
RQ2. Lack of effective leadership is a possible issue hindering efforts to combat professional burnout facing the COVID-19 pandemic (Cotel et al., 2021). This research question examines leadership’s possible failures in dealing with professional burnout. Therefore, this helps determine how to combat leadership’s possible failures limiting healthcare professionals from burnout.
RQ2a: How do the leadership failures affect the response toward professional burnout?
 RQ2a will help identify effective leadership qualities and aspects that will help minimize professional burnout. Practical leadership qualities may include strategic planning and advocating for nurses’ rights (Zhang et al., 2018). Thus, this will help reduce professional burnout.
RQ2b: How have leaders failed to address professional burnout among healthcare workers? 
RQ2b will help determine leadership actions and behaviors contributing to healthcare staff burnout. Choosing which activities are beneficial is a vital aspect for leaders. Selecting the best steps is imperative to chart the best course of action to decrease burnout within the healthcare field (Zhang et al., 2018). Determining leadership actions and behaviors can help change the strategies and reduce the burnout of healthcare providers (Jalili et al., 2021).
RQ3: What proposals could address professional burnout among healthcare workers?
RQ3. The researcher examines options that leaders could use to address healthcare professional burnout amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the study identifies the evidence-based interventions, such as working in shifts to avoid working extra time, that the medical community, policymakers, and health administrators could implement to overcome the challenge of professional burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Evidence-based interventions are the most suitable solutions because experiments and scientific studies have proven them (Allen et al., 2017). In addition, investigating the leadership strategies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic is fundamental to implementing reasonable measures to reduce burnout among healthcare workers (Allen et al., 2017).
RQ4: How do healthcare management and administration affect staff burnout at hospitals in the wake of COVID-19?
RQ4.The researcher seeks to analyze the role of the healthcare administration and their competencies to address professional burnout. Sufficient leadership qualities are necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic (Cotel et al., 2021). Practical leadership qualities help leaders to make sound decisions concerning any change in health care (Cotel et al., 2021). Therefore, the administration initiates change and communicates the strategies for addressing the challenge and steps to address professional burnout (Cotel et al., 2021).
The questions examine different aspects concerning addressing professional burnout due to COVID-19 among health care workers. The answers to these questions will provide insights on strategies used in addressing professional burnout. The questions are highly relevant due to the increased healthcare sector issues arising from the high burnout among healthcare workers. The research questions will deliver the opinions and tribulations that healthcare workers have endured to encourage burnout during the pandemic.
The questions present the objectives of the research. They provide different ideas about the research concept. Stakeholders can use the ideas from the insights they potentially reveal in the health care sector to develop strategies for addressing professional burnout (Khasne et al., 2020). The questions address leadership attributes, qualities, plans, actions, and behaviors that promote professional burnout. The questions also cover these leadership aspects that can potentially assist in solving the problem. The research will potentially help the United States set standards and solutions to solve the patient safety and practitioner efficacy risks that the healthcare industry has experienced since the pandemic due to burnout. The research will offer solutions to help the leaders reflect on the most successful approaches to preventing healthcare burnout. The culmination of all four research questions and the four sub-questions can help provide options for possible ways to decrease healthcare burnout within Sentara Internal Medicine, Norfolk, Virginia.
Nature of the Study
The study focuses on understanding the status of COVID-19 burnout among healthcare workers and the leader’s role in handling the problem. The study calls for a single and flexible research design process. With a positivist perspective, the researcher can gain insights into participants’ emotions, opinions, and behavior. The triangulation process will allow the investigator to achieve credibility and validity.
Discussion of Research Paradigms
Positivism
The positive research paradigm targets a single objective reality that an investigator focuses on exploring (Park et al., 2020). The assessment is based on observation and reasoning (Park et al., 2020). This paradigm assumes that a tangible reality exists among variables (Park et al., 2020). The positivism model entails the act of being sure about something. In research, science is based on observable facts. Thus, the positivism research paradigm views the knowledge generation process as a quantifiable process. Understanding the relationship between research parameters focuses on observation and reasoning. This relationship can be understood, identified, and measured to reveal the causal framework. Therefore, this paradigm focuses on the accurate and objective interpretation of data to establish a particular set of knowledge. The positive research paradigm is very different from positivism because it uses principles and assumptions to guide any potential scientific discoveries. By understanding these assumptions, one can know more about the findings that could be used to identify research gaps and generate sound evidence. It also helps support scientific studies.
Post-Positivism
The post-positivism model is derived from the positivism paradigm and incorporates a better examination of the issues occurring in the real-world setting (Panhwar et al., 2017). It values methodological pluralism, which applies research methods that align with the research question (Panhwar et al., 2017). It integrates both positivism and empirical analysis methods to understand the social concept at hand better. This paradigm may offer a flexible model that allows researchers to incorporate multiple ways of answering a particular research question. Post- positivism was created from positivism to generate a more encompassing way of examining real-world problems (Kankan, 2019). This understanding does not negate or refute positivism but rather suggests that something subsequentially exists and is worth consideration (Kankan, 2019).
Constructivism
The constructivism research paradigm is based on experience and in-depth reflection of these experiences (Mogashoa, 2014). This method is primarily based on learning to construct the meaning of a particular element. Human beings generate knowledge through the interaction between their experiences and ideas (Mogashoa, 2014). This research paradigm portrays that each person constructs a meaning depending on their experiences and assessment. Overall, the constructivism model believes humans acquire knowledge through experiences and interpret the insights obtained.
Pragmatism
The pragmatism paradigm is based on the use of “what works” rather than what is deemed “true” or “real” (Frey, 2018). Researchers ensure that they view a problem in its broadest context after identification. Pragmatism portrays its experience-based and action-oriented perspective. The paradigm addresses an issue based on how people experience it. For instance, if people view the sea as beautiful, this means that the setting is gorgeous. The consideration of this statement is based on truth.
Researcher’s Selected Paradigm
The researcher has selected the positivism paradigm to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on burnout among healthcare workers. This paradigm will enable the researcher to integrate a suitable social, philosophical model that applies to the issue of burnout among health care workers. This paradigm will closely align with the observation and reasoning strategies to develop an interpretation based on objectivity (Park, Konge & Artino, 2020). Research shows that the positivist approach supports an objective method of viewing elements (Park, Konge & Artino, 2020). Understanding the burnout problem among these professionals will be based on objective analysis rather than a subjective one. Thus, the positivist model is appropriate for the study because it will depend on observation and reasoning instead of my understanding of this crucial issue. It will position the researcher in a better place to establish suitable and strategic recommendations capable of handling this
menace across the healthcare setting.
Discussion of Design
Fixed Design Using Quantitative Methods
The fixed design model entails using permanent elements in the data collection process that are part of the research proposal (Kumaar, 2018). While relying on quantitative research tools, the investigator executes the research process. Some of the methods incorporated in the fixed design include experimental, quasi-experimental, and nonexperimental (Kumar, 2018). This design does not apply in the research because the data collected would be quantitative. However, the potential data derived in this research will be in qualitative form. The fact that it uses fixed data collection tools means that one cannot amend the data in the collection phase, which is often used in quantitative research (Doyle et al., 2009). The fixed design method is often used in quantitative research, which helps ensure that the data collected is unbiased and cannot be tampered with (Doyle et al., 2009). This also means that it will help provide the most accurate conclusion for the research party.
Flexible Design Using Qualitative Methods
A flexible research design allows the researcher to adjust the process during the research (Kumar, 2018). One of the critical benefits of relying on this method is that it facilitates the investigator with a viable opportunity to enhance the research validity (Kumar, 2018). As Kumar (2018) notes, a flexible design is vital to improving research outcomes. The researcher can capture appropriate data and information depending on the situation. For instance, if the participants targeted for the study are unreachable due to work-related circumstances, the researcher can focus on a more flexible data collection method. Focusing on a more flexible study saves time and massive resources due to diminished limitations (Kumar, 2018). It also makes it possible for the researchers to investigate a myriad of other factors that could prove helpful to the research. With technology, the flexible study is more efficient since one can source participants from all parts of the world, making the data collected more conclusive. Overall, the flexible research design approach improves study validity and other relevant research-based outcomes. The flexible design methods that researchers can utilize include narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, case study, and ethnography (Kumar, 2018).
Mixed Methods Design using Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
The mixed research design focuses on a combination of fixed and flexible methods. It ensures that these two approaches integrate. This design is especially relevant in answering research questions that cannot be addressed while relying on a singular tactic (Doyle et al., 2009). The mixed-methods design paves the way to apply various methods that the investigator deems relevant to the study. The researcher can focus on convergent, explanatory, sequential, and exploratory transformative mixed design methods. A mixed research design is one of the most functional research designs. This is because it expands the scope of research such as no single method can (Doyle et al., 2009). It involves a process that provides both observations and statistical analysis, which helps make sure that the research is more comprehensive. A mixed design also offers more in terms of exploration rather than just focusing on analysis (Doyle et al., 2009). This makes sure that the data being used in the research is more than comprehensive, which offers subtle solutions to a problem that may seem too big to solve initially.
The Appropriateness of the Flexible Design in the Project and the Rationale
The study will be conducted using the single and flexible case study design that focuses on the qualitative method. The single study aspect aids in capturing data from a specific group of interest (Kumar, 2018). Capturing information from a single group is advantageous because it narrows down the scope of data that will need to be analyzed (Kumar, 2018). This, in turn, ensures that the data is thoroughly analyzed. Capturing information from a small group will also ensure that the participants are all diverse and represent the diverse groups as found on the ground (Kumar, 2018). This means that their information will be an authentic representation of what is happening in real life. The flexible design is a crucial way of applying and building an appropriate theory targeting a unique case (Kumar, 2018). In this case, the researcher will target a group of healthcare providers and leaders to share their ideas and thoughts on the issue of professional burnout amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The investigator may better understand answering the research question and derive a quality conclusion by targeting a single interest group.
The flexible design suits the study because it will allow the investigator to gather a wide range of information obtained from the facts relayed by the participants through observing their behavior (Doyle et al., 2009). For example, the subjects will provide verbal details when asked about their leaders’ participation in creating a conducive working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic and the burnout experienced. Also, the researcher can rely on verbal cues to draw quality information (Doyle et al., 2009). The flexible design will also allow the researcher to capture information depending on the situation (Doyle et al., 2009). It suits both the researcher and the participants. For instance, if the investigator feels that the method used does not fit the context, one can change it to ensure that the results are more valid (Doyle et al., 2009). Also, it ensures that the subjects have the right to withhold information that they might find inappropriate. For example, if an interview does not allow the researcher to obtain the desired information, an observation can suit the process better as it captures facts. Overall, a flexible design aids in enhancing a study’s validity (Doyle et al., 2009). As Kumar (2018) highlights, adjusting a research design helps the researcher obtain relevant data and information for the study. A flexible design is essential to avoiding inappropriate conclusions based on inadequate information (Kumar, 2018). The fixed and mixed methods would not be ideal for the study to collect information focusing on attitudes and perceptions (Kumar, 2018). The flexible design is more about adapting to changing participant views, especially when the study is conducted relatively quickly (Kumar, 2018). The design will make it possible to navigate the changes and still be able to capture and integrate them into the study.
The study will focus on the qualitative method to gather and analyze the acquired information. The qualitative method will examine the experiences and perspectives that the subjects have toward an identified topic of study, known as ethnography (Al-Busaidi, 2008). The study’s relevance will be determined in the healthcare domain to answer questions revolving around various issues. For example, examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the top leadership’s role in addressing these burnout calls for qualitative research methods to enable the investigator to understand different attitudes and perceptions (Al-Busaidi, 2008). When quantitative research utilizes techniques, stakeholders might fail to understand better some of these issues (Al-Busaidi, 2008). This is primarily due to the lack of quantifiable data on participants’ attitudes and behaviors (Al-Busaidi, 2008). Thus, the qualitative design comes in handy as it supports information collection focusing on emotions, attitudes, and associated behavior (Al-Busaidi, 2008). The qualitative design is the right kind of research design because it does not need numerical statistics to conclude since the research is based on emotions and attitudes, which are not quantitative (Al-Busaidi, 2008). This research calls for the qualitative research method as it will accelerate accessing valuable information.
Discussion of Method
The study will incorporate the flexible design approach and focus on the narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, case study, and ethnography methods (Naideo, 2012). The researcher can decide to use any of these methods depending on the context and desired results.
Narrative
The narrative methodology entails inquiries directed at human experience narratives or inquiries that yield data in the narrative form (Butina, 2015). The stories relayed from the subjects through their experiences develop into raw data. The researcher can rely on secondary data obtained from observations and interviews during the study. Notably, written or spoken information provided by the subjects during the actual research process becomes a key source of quality information and data. The narrative methodology aligns with the researcher’s key, which focuses on acquiring raw data from participants’ experiences in the actual setting and through secondary narratives (Butina, 2015). The narrative method and the researcher’s key are cross-examined to reveal any outliers.
Phenomenology
Phenomenology is based on people’s experiences with a particular phenomenon depending on how it manifests in their lives (Williams, 2021). It uncovers “what experiences are like” (Williams 2021, p.366). Using an individual’s experience, an investigator can understand the concept at hand. For example, a researcher can study a group of people with first-hand knowledge of a particular area of interest or who have experienced an event. One’s individual experience may expose one to the manifestation of the problem in the actual world setting. This approach suits the study because the researcher can access viable participants to share their experiences and obtain necessary information (Williams, 2021). If the information collected from the participants is similar, then it can help the individual come up with a common theme, as will be proven by the data collected. If there are differing opinions, this can also be used to develop a theme since it shows a common discrepancy when it comes to the research topic.
Grounded Theory
Grounded Theory involves the collection and analysis of data (Konecki, 2018). Once the data is collected for research and analyzed, it is labeled grounded theory because the theories are supported by the data (Konecki, 2018). The grounded theory framework focuses on theory development (Pulla, 2016). Researchers can use it to explain how the participants of the study would handle the issue at hand or any similar potential problem in the future. It also makes it possible for the researcher to modify or alter a theory when comparing existing data to the relevant data. Researchers systematically collect and analyze data to formulate appropriate theories (Pulla, 2016). The central aim of the grounded theory model is to establish social relationships and behaviors. The theory also provides the researcher with the benefit of being able to begin the study without a preconceived notion of what they will find. The grounded theory is based on the researcher’s ability to come up with a theory from the research results (Pulla, 2016). The theory obtained will be reliable since it is based on previous supportive research. The obtained findings become the theory that helps the researcher develop a viable conclusion. The grounded theory method can be integrated into the study to further future research on the conclusions of the impact of the pandemic and the leadership role in exposing healthcare providers to professional burnout.
Ethnography
Ethnography aims at learning about the culture of a particular setting (Naidoo, 2012). Researchers engage participant observational processes across the field to learn more about culture and learn about beliefs, social interactions, and behaviors (Naidoo, 2012). The outcomes inform investigators about interactions and relationships in a specific environment. Ethnography methods aim to develop an analytical interpretation of cultures (Naidoo, 2012). The researcher gains new insights based on the in-depth understanding of a specific culture during the long span of the study.
Case Study
A case study method is a process that relies on real-life context. It is a comprehensive account of an individual case and its analysis (Starman, 2013). Researchers investigate a person, group of people, or events to examine the boundary between the phenomenon and the context (Starman, 2013). The case study method will assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on professional burnout in the healthcare sector and the role that leaders have played in addressing the challenge. By targeting a group of care providers and leaders to act as the case study, the investigator will access viable information highlighting a link between the issue and its context.
Discussion of the Appropriateness of the Best Method
The case study is the best method to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed healthcare providers to professional burnout and how leaders have handled the situation (Starman, 2013). The researcher can study the participants during a set time or location to unravel the challenges experienced and how leaders effectively dealt with the problem (Starman, 2013). For instance, through this approach, the investigator can study nurses handling patients on the ground and establish viable conclusions from the same. Therefore, its ability to analyze the population in a real-life context makes it an ideal method. It also makes it easier to focus the study on a specific area, making the results even more viable due to the specificity.
It is also essential to make sure that the information presented in the study is valid. This can be done through a process called respondent validation (Starman, 2013). It involves retesting the initial results with the respondents to ensure they would give the same kind of response. This helps make sure that the researcher can overcome any personal bias.
Discussion of Triangulation
Triangulation entails combining different research methods and approaches to enhance credibility and validity (Campbell et al., 2020). Researchers use multiple methods to study a phenomenon of interest (Campbell et al., 2020). This process eliminates potential biases often witnessed when relying on a single research method. The focused study will entail questionnaires and interviews to gather information. The information obtained from each of these methods will enhance credibility and validity. The research methods that will be used in this study will include questionnaires, interviews, and focus group discussions. The first method that will be used is questionnaires to gather information from a group of healthcare providers. This questionnaire will allow participants to express their opinions about how the pandemic has affected their work environment. The researcher can create a questionnaire that allows participants to express their views on topics. The participants will answer questions like, have they been affected by the pandemic, and how has it affected their work environment? The researcher can also ask what kind of support system would make them feel better about handling the threat posed by pandemics. Participants will be given time to respond to the questionnaire.
The second method that will be used is the use of focus groups. The main objective of this method is to obtain reliable information about participants’ perceptions of the pandemic in their organization (Campbell et al., 2020). It also allows participants to express their opinions regarding handling the problem if they were leaders or managers in their organizations (Campbell et al., 2020). The researcher could hold discussions with a group of healthcare providers and leaders and engage them in conversations on how they would handle the threat posed by pandemics if they were leaders or managers (Campbell et al., 2020). The participants in focus groups need to have a context to make sure that they give more realistic opinions.
The third method that will be used is the use of interviews. This method involves collecting information from participants one-on-one (Campbell et al., 2020). Interviews are considered helpful in qualitative studies because they can allow open discussion and reflection (Campbell et al., 2020). The researcher could hold individual interviews with a group of healthcare providers and leaders and engage them in discussions on how they would handle the threat posed by pandemics if they were leaders or managers.
The research will target different triangulation approaches. These include data, theory, and methodological modes of triangulation. First, the data triangulation approach will enable the researcher to examine the differential outcomes evidenced during the ‘normal’ operations and the pandemic era. Understanding the experiences that care providers have during the ‘normal’ times and the ones witnessed during the pandemic can shape a better view of the issue at hand. Evaluating data obtained from the two times will establish viable generalizations and conclusions. These multiple methods can reveal realities and enable the researcher to develop quality judgments (Campbell et al., 2020). Also, the triangulation theory becomes a quality mode of assessing how the pandemic has generated burnout among care providers. This entails using different theories to understand how the pandemic has exposed healthcare providers to professional burnout. Some approaches that come into play include the job resource demand theory, Maslach’s model, and the conservation of resources theory. They allow the researcher to connect the burnout challenge with various circumstances and conditions in the workplace. For instance, the lack of strategic allocation of resources and failure to meet the safety and security of the care providers are central issues leading to the problem. Lastly, methodological triangulation will be used as it promises a wide range of data and information which supports effective analysis. The researcher will target the use of interviews, questionnaires, and focus group discussions to collect vital information. Using these sets of different methodologies ensures broader access to quality information. Overall, these are strategic and valuable triangulation angles that the investigator will pay attention to as one looks to boost credibility and validity.
Summary
This single case study will address the issues of professional burnout among healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus is on selected care providers and leaders in the healthcare setting. A positivist research paradigm will enable the researcher to base the process on an objective approach rather than a subjective one to interpret the situation. Also, a flexible design will be crucial to ensure that the researcher can adjust methods and techniques if needed.  The case study approach is highly integrated with this case study as it will enable the investigator to study the subjects in a real-life context. Questionnaires and interviews will act as imperative data collection strategies supporting triangulation. The use of various qualitative methods as described will be beneficial to the researcher. They will be able to collect the most accurate data possible and come up with research that is conclusive and very informative.
Research Framework
The research will be guided by elements that will help the researchers focus and narrow their inquiry into burnout among healthcare workers. The study will apply concepts, theories, actors, and constructs to help structure and govern the research. Thus, the study will apply a combination of organizational, psychological, and social frameworks to research how leadership in medical institutions affects healthcare workers’ performance amidst the challenges of COVID-19. The metrics considered will be the healthcare personnel’s (HCP) working hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, the doctor-patient ratio, and the welfare provided. The psychological factors caused by COVID-19 may be responsible for the healthcare workers’ burnout. The research questions seek to address professional burnout among the nurses and understand if nurses are the most affected by burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other research questions seek to understand how leadership burnout affected burnout and the proposals to arrest the burnout among health care workers. The following figure, Figure 1, is a visual representation of the relationship between these elements within the framework:
Diagram
Figure 1

Concepts
Leadership plays an integral role in ensuring the smooth running of any given organization (Cotel et al., 2021). In a healthcare setup, leadership is crucial in facilitating quality services. In the past few years, the efficiency and effectiveness of leadership within the healthcare settings have been put under severe test by the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic outbreak has exposed the gaps in the quality of leadership needed to run the healthcare facilities (Sharifi et al., 2021). As a result of inefficiency in leadership within the healthcare sector, cases of healthcare professionals experiencing burnout have drastically increased (Sharifi et al., 2021). Effective and efficient leadership is essential, ensuring various issues such as professional burnout do not affect the quality of health care services rendered to the patients (Anthony-McMann et al., 2017).
Burnout Within Health Professionals
The presence of effective and efficient leadership within the organization caters to the psychological welfare of its human resource (Sharifi et al., 2021). COVID-19 has caused chaos and confusion within the healthcare environment. For instance, the high number of deaths of patients within the hospital has led to healthcare providers experiencing shock and trauma. This massive loss of patients and healthcare professionals has led to fatigue and burnout of healthcare providers (Sharifi et al., 2021).
Comprehending the severity of healthcare professional burnout and the cause is vital in developing a supportive environment for healthcare professionals and their well-being, effectiveness, and efficacy within the healthcare workforce. Cotel et al. (2021) demonstrate that 50% of the medical professionals have experienced exhaustion due to the COVID-19 pandemic in one instance. As shown in figure 1, the concept is linked to the psychological and organizational framework because it seeks to explain the psychology behind more than half of healthcare workers experiencing burnout. The impacts of COVID-19 on the healthcare employee’s psychological state are clear. Just like the pandemic led to psychological trauma due to loss of jobs, loved ones, school closures, and movement restrictions, it equally had a daunting experience for the nurses who were the frontline soldiers to combat its spread (Sharifi et al., 2021). Moreover, they had to care for their families, while others had to stay in the hospitals due to movement restrictions (Sharifi et al., 2021). The long working hours, the high patient-nurse ratio, and the ever-increasing patient count caused burnout in the nurses (Sharifi et al., 2021).
Shortages in Healthcare Professionals in Relations to COVID-19
The outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the acute shortage of healthcare providers within the healthcare systems (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). The exponential increase in the number of individuals seeking healthcare services due to the pandemic has stretched to limit the abilities of the available professionals. The influence of COVID-19 on healthcare safety cannot be underestimated. The burnout experienced by healthcare providers is of national concern (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). The emergence of COVID-19 did not stop other diseases from occurring while the doctor-patient ratio remained the same (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). As a result, the long working shift and lack of proper support leadership infrastructure have led to the health care professionals experiencing burnout while providing healthcare services.
Leadership Within the Organization
Healthcare organizations also lost income due to canceling non-emergency and specialty treatments after the pandemic (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Therefore, the healthcare sector has strained beyond the limit, and the government’s relief has not been enough to address the impending more significant challenge. The loss of revenue and the overwhelming hospital capacities made the management of the healthcare facilities difficult. The healthcare administrators were thus overwhelmed with managing a balance between life and work (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Therefore, the leadership attributes provided were short of the transactional qualities needed for success in the healthcare sector. Some of the vital aspects to be deliberated include the role of supervisors of healthcare institutions in causative to the cause of healthcare professionals’ burnout (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Notably, crucial resource allocation issues within the healthcare environment and shift patterns are essential in mediating burnout. Developing a clear insight of the influence the COVID-19 has on healthcare professional burnout can positively inspire positive human resource management (Cotel et al., 2021). Thus, the leadership within the healthcare facilities has the mandate of creating a conducive working environment.
However, to fully effect the necessary changes and help the doctors overcome the challenges of the pandemic, employee engagement is essential (Cotel et al., 2021). The healthcare administrators and senior managers must derive measures that reward the nurses and the clinical officers appropriately to motivate them and help overcome burnout (Cotel et al., 2021).
Effective Leadership
Employee engagement will be based on the participative institutional practices that embrace the current organizational design trends toward effective leadership (Anthony-Mcmann et al., 2017). The techniques needed to address the concept of employee relations and job satisfaction through incentive programs motivate employees to work and improve their welfare while in the workplace (Anthony-Mcmann et al., 2017). Leaders are responsible for creating a conducive working environment that encourages employee engagement. Leaders can adopt numerous strategies and programs to ensure employees are conversant with their roles hence reducing the cases of burnout (Cotel et al., 2021).
Theories
Below are a few theories used for this research: The research will observe transactional leadership and the possible inefficiency of leaders in the healthcare sector. The theory portion of the research framework is established on variables that may impact the possible responses of the sample population (Russell., 2014). As Russell (2014) further supports, a high perception of transformational leadership reduces burnout levels, especially among high-risk professionals such as the police and healthcare workers. The research seeks to utilize healthcare workers’ attitudes and perceptions to further understand burnout among healthcare workers, supported by theories and specific research questions.
Job Demands–Resources Theory (JD-R)
This theory posits that the working environment can expose care providers to professional burnout. Healthcare professionals who work in a hectic and demanding setting become extensively prone to burnout. These elements include workloads, emotional demands, and understaffing (Broetje et al., 2020). They become highly dissatisfied and demotivated in their work. The primary foundation behind burnout is the increased job demands in the workplace. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and other care centers experience a surge in demand for services. Care providers were handling numerous roles and responsibilities that left them overburdened. This created emotional, physical, and psychological challenges, especially in institutions that failed to capture the needs and well-being of these service providers (Broetje et al., 2020). This theory argues that the workload on an employee affects their stress levels (Cotel et al., 2021). Notably, when the work demands increase, stress levels increase simultaneously, leading to work burnout (Cotel et al., 2021). COVID-19 increased the tasks of healthcare people as the infections spread at a faster rate in all nations. The increase in demand for healthcare services strained the healthcare workers beyond the limit (Cotel et al., 2021). The healthcare workers had to handle more workload, work for long hours, lack enough sleep, suffer poor nutrition, and experience mental trauma of experiencing patients suffering and dying due to the virus increase (Morgantini et al., 2020).
However, research shows that self-regulation is likely to ease burnout in the healthcare sector (Bakker & de Vries, 2021). This means that care providers should regulate themselves to avoid burnout. This research counters the argument that high job demand leaves healthcare providers exposed to job strain and emerging burnout. Overall, this theory is used in the evaluation of data to inform the research to the impacts that an environment based on high demand for care services can lead to professional burnout, primarily when leaders fail to integrate strategic actions. It allows institutional leaders to assess the status of the working environment to supplement the demand and supply of care services when dealing with a hectic setting.
Maslach’s Theory.
This model focuses on a challenging environment that expose care providers to professional burnout. It entails emotional exhaustion and a partial sense of personal accomplishment associated with their duties and responsibilities (Poghosyan, Aiken & Sloane, 2009). Burnout undermines the care and attention services provided to patients. Maslach’s theory has developed a framework capable of predicting the likelihood of burnout occurring within the organization’s human resources (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). The framework is the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). According to the framework, some of the key components contributing to burnout are extreme assignment, negative co-existence with the community, lack of motivation, and lack of resource control (Morgantini et al., 2020). The management of resources will help to employ more healthcare personnel, purchase PPEs, pay for the workers’ allowances and provide accommodation, childcare, and transport to ease the occupational stressors that lead to burnout in the workplace (Morgantini et al., 2020). Maslach’s theory connects how using resources could help reduce burnout in the research framework (Dall’Ora et al., 2020).
This theory helps healthcare institutional leaders to realize that the foundation behind reduced burnout lies in the strategic allocation of resources. This can handle most of the gaps that leave care providers nursing burnout. For instance, a significant allocation of resources can facilitate employee mental welfare, providing quality personal protective equipment and workforce allowances. Advancing each of these areas can limit this menace. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers faced enormous and hectic tasks due to the surge in patients needing care and attention services. If their organizations could employ more staff, this may be limited burnout.
Conservation of Resources Theory
The theory provides the necessary parameters to enhance the well-being of healthcare workers, including vitality, the working environment conditions, and the tools of the profession (Prapanjaroensin et al., 2017). According to the theory, the absence of the four above parameters leads to burnout among healthcare professionals. In line with the WHO (World Health Organization), the discussions of this theory define burnout as the lack of energy or fatigue, pessimism in the workplace, or leaving one’s profession (Morgantini et al., 2020). Therefore, the actor’s intervention to burnout must seek intervention mechanisms that guarantee energy, satisfaction at work, and healthy organizational culture. This revolves around collecting a significant resource base to pave the way for viable healthcare systems and structures. Research indicates that poorly resourced health systems lie as a critical challenge in reducing burnout (Alvaro et al., 2010). If healthcare establishments fail to assemble vital and substantial resources, they will likely expose their care professionals to burnout. This portrays the need for leaders to invest in a crucial resource base to supplement emerging needs when operating in a hectic and demanding environment.
This theory is valuable in this research because it captures the need for healthcare leaders to amass and allocate resources to establish a conducive working environment. A significant allocation of resources in various healthcare centers may pave the way for reduced burnout. This is because institutional leaders can address most of the issues that expose care providers to this problem. For example, they can employ more staff members to accelerate service delivery. This ensures there is greater flexibility and consequently enabling service providers to establish work-life balance. Overall, this is a major theoretical approach capable of enabling healthcare leaders to address burnout occurring during the pandemic.
Actors
The activities in a healthcare system are influenced by various personnel who define the fluidity of operations in providing care (Morgantini et al., 2020). Fundamentally, the segmentation of these actors in terms of their role in a healthcare facility determines the suitability of care provision. Therefore, the care team is segmented into various units that facilitate a healthcare facility’s operations.
Health Care Providers
The healthcare professional is the core component under study. The study’s primary purpose is to determine how the pandemic has led to burnout in healthcare facilities. Burnout is a global health concern for nurses, physicians, and clinicians caused by stress in the workplace and not appropriately managed (Sharifi et al., 2021). Burnout manifests itself in three forms: fatigue or energy loss, pessimism about the job or mental distraction from work, and reduced professional effectiveness (Sharifi et al., 2021). Generally, the symptoms of burnout are increased absenteeism, attempts to leave the profession, drug abuse, and low self-esteem. Since the emergence of the COVID-19, the health care professionals, particularly those working in the emergency departments, have faced many occupational depressors, including the long working hours, prolonged wearing of masks, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, dehydration, and heat generated by extra clothes, and increasing workload (Sharifi et al., 2021). These stressors had increased the burnout crisis in the healthcare sector due to the demanding work schedules even before the pandemic struck (Sharifi et al., 2021).
Healthcare Managers/ Administrator
This actor plays an essential role within the healthcare environment. Some healthcare leaders’ responsibilities include employing and assigning duties and ensuring healthcare workers access resources and protective gear. Figure 1 links these actors to the organizational and psychological framework allowing the investigation of how each actor influences the psychological well-being of healthcare practitioners.
Patient / Consumer
The patient’s welfare is at the center of the healthcare service providers. However, this welfare is adversely affected when the service provider’s quality of health and safety is constrained by burnout (Sharifi et al., 2021). As a result of nurses experiencing burnout, careless mistakes are likely to occur, negatively impacting patients’ well-being. Moreover, the constant death, the suffering, and the need to sympathize with customers whose patients are admitted is also a cause of burnout for the nurses (Sharifi et al., 2021). The COVID-19 agony has undoubtedly caused mental health problems to the public, the patients, the nurses, and other healthcare personnel (HCP). The research will play an integral role in demonstrating the roles patients can play in facilitating solving the problem of caregiver burnout.
Constructs
Constructs are essential in facilitating critical understanding regarding issues affecting the topic under research. The constructs refer to the connection between leadership and healthcare professionals, the effort of the healthcare administrators to contain burnout. Containing and controlling burnout among healthcare professionals is a challenging exercise that will require the pooling of resources and skills from all the profession’s stakeholders (Sharifi et al., 2021).
The Role of Stakeholders in Dealing with Healthcare Professional Burnout
The role of stakeholders exists as one of the imperative constructs in the professional burnout challenge. There are numerous parties affected and impacted by the different decisions established in the healthcare domain. This has been a major area of concern, as Wu et al. (2019) highlight that little attention is directed toward multiple stakeholders involved in healthcare matters. Organizational leaders should always integrate and observe the need and interests of all stakeholders. In this case, the project focusing on addressing professional burnout through effective leadership means that leaders should evaluate and meet the expectations of all stakeholders. These entail both the internal and external parties. For example, patients and care providers are internal stakeholders impacted by this initiative, while the community at large is a critical external party.
Patients and medical supervisors are crucial stakeholders within the healthcare sector. These groups of stakeholders have integral roles in addressing the issues of professional burnout. For instance, patients directly interact with the healthcare providers, and they can tell the level of burnout of the healthcare professionals. However, for the patients to be able to report cases of professional burnout, several aspects are needed. One of the key aspects is how patients can realize and report incidences of burnout of healthcare professionals within the organization while still maintaining the professionalism of nurses (Morgantini et al., 2020). If patients realize that the care provider is offering inadequate services, they can always report this to proper authorities. This paves the way for leaders to take immediate and quality actions. However, this does not mean that leaders should await for such happenings to take action. They should evaluate the working environment and establish if it suits the needs and welfare of its team of professionals. This will ensure that leaders take the best steps to avoid exposing their healthcare workers to burnout.  For example, during the pandemic, healthcare workers faced various mental issues like stress, depression, and anxiety (Ghassemi 2021). This was connected to the events and images that they observed in their line of duty. This called for leaders to invest in mental training and awareness programs. Understanding their mental health risks should have accelerated them into establishing this strategic action (Ghassemi, 2021). This means that organizational leaders remain a pivotal factor in making the work setting quality and conducive for everyone. Overall, this construct targets consideration of all stakeholders’ unique needs, interests, and expectations while observing them.
Creation of a Conducive Working Environment for the Employees
Creating a conducive working environment for healthcare service providers is one of the most effective approaches to dealing with professional burnout (Morgantini et al., 2020). The healthcare environment changes rapidly, with strategic steps needed to build a quality working environment. For example, when the pandemic occurred, most hospitals and care centers experienced numerous patients needing admission and other critical services. Workers were left handling multiple roles that exposed them to burnout. This portrayed lack of adjustments to allow these care providers to balance their work and personal life. They became heavily exposed to physical, emotional, and psychological challenges. Amidst the hectic environment was the lack of access to crucial equipment needed when handling patients. As Jalili et al. (2021) note, leaders failed in their mandate of making the working environment better for all healthcare workers. Immediately care leaders realized that the COVID-19 pandemic could a take a toll on their organization, they would have liaised to create proactive measures. In case burnouts advanced, they would have implemented these guidelines to safeguard their team members from developing burnout.
The leadership role during the crisis was a critical factor in containing the spread of the disease and ensuring the healthcare workers’ welfare (Morgantini et al., 2020). The healthcare leadership during the pandemic played an essential part in the deployment of the healthcare personnel and the provision of home care for the nurses and physicians, arranging for transport services, accommodation, and social welfare (Morgantini et al., 2020). The healthcare administrators played an essential role in managing the workforce by recruiting non-specialized clinicians to assist in the hospitals’ wards while saving the most qualified doctors from the frontline and restricting them to emergency and intensive care units during the pandemic (Morgantini et al., 2020).
As indicated in Figure 1, the constructs are linked to the relationship between the organizational and social frameworks that will help identify the social impact of various strategies as part of a solution to burnout.
Relationship Between Concepts, Theories, Actors, and Constructs
The primary goal is to assess burnout challenges experienced by healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using relevant concepts, theories, actors, and constructs, the researcher can establish a viable explanation for the exposure to burnout among healthcare professionals when the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. These four components interrelate to produce the desired outcome.
The major concepts include understanding the leadership role, burnout situation among healthcare professionals, and shortage of care providers. These are crucial concepts that enable the audience to understand the cause and status of the burnout problem among these professionals. For example, the acute shortage of healthcare providers has exposed the current workforce to job strains that have created burnout (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). This is because they are stretched beyond their limits.
The theories applicable in this situation include the Job Demands-resource (JD-R), Maslach’s, and the Conservation of Resources theories. The JD-R theory focuses on the increasing stress levels among healthcare professionals due to increased workloads (Morgantini et al., 2020). Maslach’s theory highlights that burnout occurs due to extreme workloads, lack of motivation, and the absence of resource control (Morgantini et al., 2020). Lastly, the Conservation of Resources Theory reveals that the inability to consider the well-being of healthcare workers and create a quality working environment exposes these professionals to burnout (Prapanjaroensin et al., 2017).
The primary actors, in this case, include the healthcare workers and the leaders. Burnout directly affects care providers who are limited in the care and attention services they provide to the consumers, the patients. The other vital actor is the healthcare managers or administrators responsible for addressing burnout among these professionals.
The addressed construct is the leadership approach that determines the effective handling of these vital issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital needed talented leaders to manage the panic, provide medical workers with resources, and ensure enough employees to address the crisis (Brooms, 2020). Despite the prevailing crisis, leaders also needed to ensure that healthcare professional gets adequate time to relax and reenergize. However, healthcare leaders may have responded inappropriately to the crisis, causing burnout among healthcare workers (Brooms, 2020). The leadership strategies developed and implemented by the hospital leaders will determine if the burnout challenge is adequately addressed.
Conclusion of Constructs
This single case study aims to understand the different factors, particularly leadership strategies, that impact the COVID-19 burnout among healthcare workers. It is understood that leadership style impacts production and organizational culture (Allen, 2019). The effectiveness of leadership must be assessed to determine plans for continuous improvement (Brooms, 2020).
The emergence of COVID-19 added to the growing concern of burnout in health professionals. WHO defines burnout as a crisis that needs addressing for an effective healthcare system and realization of quality care (Allen, 2019). However, the emergence of the pandemic prolonged the nurses’ working hours and exposed them directly to the virus. Health Care workers had to wear PPES for long hours, lacked sleep, suffer poor nutrition, and the sympathy of comforting patients in the wards and the death of patients caused mental health trauma and increased burnout (Allen, 2019). The role of the healthcare leadership and the healthcare administrators in reducing burnout during the pandemic encouraged the healthcare personnel to continue in the fight against the pandemic. Organizational leadership, mainly transactional leadership, and employee engagement were paramount. Providing childcare, accommodation, and transport reduced the healthcare workers’ pressures on work-life balance. The healthcare administrators were also critical in recruiting unspecialized clinicians and increasing bed capacity to reduce the work pressures on the most qualified human resource in the hospitals (Allen, 2019). The owners provided the necessary allowances, purchased the essential PPEs, and paid healthcare allowances. The government intervention in terms of relief to the healthcare institutions also helps to increase the bed capacity, PPEs, and other facilities. All these constructs effectively addressed the burnout issue among healthcare personnel. Patients’ contribution was also significant because they are the end consumers of the services. The patients can notice when the efficiency and efficacy of services, which must reflect the standard quality care and excellence in not met. They thus help to notify the relevant authorities of the burnout.
Summary of the Research Framework
The research framework develops a visualization of the role of leaders to the healthcare workers during everyday work environments and during irregular work schedules, which has been the case since the outbreak of COVID-19. This research framework seeks to effectively characterize each player and element of the healthcare sector by outlining how COVID-19 has evidenced the dependency of health workers on their leaders. This framework will allow the researchers to identify solutions to the high burnout levels that include all parties linked to the healthcare workers, including the practitioners. The role of the leaders, the psychological frameworks, and social and organizational frameworks have helped outline the response to burnout during the pandemic.
Definition of Terms
Burnout: Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. (De Hert, 2020).
Occupational Challenge: An event that undermines a person’s ability to perform their duties or one that occurs due to their engagement within a particular occupational role (Lasalvia et al., 2021).
Proactive Actions: Anticipating events before they occur and being prepared and ready for the incident if it were to happen (Covin & Miller, 2014). Critical strategic postures for companies to thrive in fast-changing and competitive market environments (Covin & Miller, 2014).
Strategic Framework: A well-established plan or any other course of action focused on addressing a challenge or making a crucial investment (Marciano et al., 2020).
Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations
Throughout the study, there are assumptions, limitations, and delimitations that need to be addressed. Maintaining reliability and validity in study is fundamentally to ensuring that data is solid and reproducible and that the findings are correct (Jalili et al., 2021). An instrument’s integrity and quality can be assured only if its validity and dependability can be shown. A study’s validity may factor in the selection of which questionnaire to employ and assist researchers guarantee that they are asking about areas of relevance that are genuinely being measured (Mohajan, 2018). The extent to which a study evaluates what it promises to measure is seen as an indicator of the validity of the data collected by it. The research identifies leadership, nursing activities, and anonymity (Jalili et al., 2021). Identifying the stated factors and accounting for them enables validating the research and improving its reliability. This research deals with time constraints and unwillingness to provide information. The investigator must identify strategies to overcome the limitations. Overcoming the study constraints improve outcomes validity and reliability. Last in this section is delimitation; the part accounts for how the research overcomes limitations (Mohajan, 2018). The study must mitigate the adverse effects of limitations to ensure a valid and reliable conclusion.
Assumptions
Assumptions are deemed accurate but not tested or verified by the researcher (Jalili et al., 2021). They are based on reasons or logic and assist the researcher in establishing a viable research process capable of answering the highlighted questions and verifying the hypothesis (Jalili et al., 2021). Assumptions validate the research process as they form the foundation behind the developed research problems. The study focuses on assessing the impact of professional burnout among healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the assumptions made is that the burnout experienced by care providers emerge from the leadership’s inability to initiate viable institutional changes to protect and safeguard them amidst the demanding and unsafe working environment (Jalili et al., 2021). The researcher will examine all potential antecedents, including leadership strategies and other possible causes linked to leadership capacity, to create a conducive working environment for healthcare providers during the pandemic through a strategic framework (Jalili et al., 2021).
Another assumption is that nurses are the most affected healthcare personnel during the pandemic (Jalili et al., 2021). They are always on the frontline to offer vital care and attention services to patients exposed to the virus. This means that they are increasingly exposed to professional burnout. This is a critical assumption that the researcher will focus on reducing the impact of burnout on healthcare professionals. Understanding their mental health and risk factors for burnout will help formulate strategic actions (Ghassemi, 2021). The investigator will target many nurses to participate in the research. The insights obtained from this assessment will allow the investigator to establish if nurses are exposed to professional burnout.
The final assumption is anonymity. Selected participants for the interview collection method will be anonymous, and the responses will be kept confidential to ensure they feel comfortable sharing their experiences (Surmiak, 2018). Participants selected for the interview collection will have their responses remain anonymous. This portion will be smaller and generated based on the initial response from the survey and cross-referenced with the demographics to check for commonalities (Surmiak, 2018).
Limitations
Limitations exist as factors that influence the research process and the interpretation of the f indings, and they are out of the researcher’s control (Theofanidis & Fountouki, 2018). However, adequate risk management measures can limit these limitations. One of the limitations in this study is the reluctance to provide viable information due to fear associated with exposure of this information into the public domain. However, the researcher will promise to abide by anonymity and confidentiality (Dougherty, 2021). This will motivate the participants to provide crucial information, mainly focusing on the leadership’s inability to improve the working environment. The researcher will maintain communication with the healthcare representative to ensure they emphasize the confidentiality and anonymity of the research.
The other major limitation is time. The researcher is constrained by time to collect numerous information from many potential participants. Addressing this challenge calls for a flexible research design that allows the investigator to collect a significant amount of data and information within a short time (Mohajan, 2018). It leaves the researcher the ability to process and collect crucial information capable of supporting the desired outcomes. In this case, the investigator will focus on a single study approach.
Delimitations
This study will be conducted within one Hampton Roads organization using a minimum sample size of 15-30 participants. The hospital employs over 50,000 employees. The researcher will focus on doctors, nurses, and medical assistants, who are viewed as the most common and active healthcare workers.
The research will focus on managing time and resources to assess the burnout levels among healthcare workers effectively. The research will apply a single case study as a strategy for gathering quality data to assess the topic. A single case study effectively focuses on the given topic by using the available data on a given population through sampling a smaller but more inclusive part of the population (Mohajan, 2018). The focus on conducting a single case study arises from the need to provide inclusive and applicable research on healthcare workers. The dominant difficulty with the topic is that it is impossible to sample each worker’s burnout levels or their opinions on the sources of burnout. A single study approach will manage data on a given population based on the interactions from a smaller group that portrays common chrematistics with the collective population. Also, focusing on healthcare workers forced the researcher to only focus on a selected part of the population as a time management strategy. The specific group of workers was chosen for exposure to different conditions and factors influencing healthcare workers, making their experiences more applicable to the research.
Significance of the Study
Healthcare professional burnout has emerged as a crucial problem in the industry, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (Jalili et al., 2021). Health Care workers have been exposed to mental, psychological, and physical harm due to the enormous tasks they are expected to handle during the pandemic (Jalili et al., 2021). For example, nurses are increasingly burdened with the alarming number of individuals contracting the virus and taken into various healthcare institutions. Health care professionals are handling an increased number of patients than usual. Institutional leaders have failed in their mandate to protect and safeguard the health and well-being of care providers (Jalili et al., 2021). Jalili et al. (2021) believe that leaders have been unable to develop strategic frameworks, thus exposing healthcare workers to professional burnout. This problem lies with the leaders expected to establish robust and strategic interventional measures to address the issue. For example, leaders can create flexible working schedules, introduce wellness programs, and ensure that these professionals have the needed safety equipment when handling patients. Thus, the rationale behind the research is to enable healthcare administrators and other decision-makers to gain insights focusing on the actions they can implement to limit burnout (Jalili et al., 2021). It may establish proactive measures that these leaders can incorporate when faced with similar pandemics in the future. Overall, the research exposes healthcare leaders to suitable interventional measures they can develop and implement to save healthcare providers from professional burnout currently and in the future (Jalili et al., 2021).
Reduction of Gaps in Literature
Even though leaders have a central role in reducing professional burnout among the healthcare personnel and have failed in this area, there is limited research focusing on their approaches, the effect of leadership, or actions that have or could be taken. The researcher will attempt to fill this gap in research by asking questions specific to COVID-19 burnout among healthcare workers, related to their perception of the role, actions, and leadership behaviors regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. More research will be established to assess leaders as frontline stakeholders handling and managing the burnout challenge through this study. With the experiences witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a dire need for investigators to focus their attention on the leadership role and its impact on addressing professional burnout among health care workers (Lasalvia et al., 2021). As research indicates, healthcare administrators have failed in their mandate to address burnout (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Their limited attention toward the physical, psychological, and emotional health of care providers has created a significant challenge in boosting overall health and well-being. Sharifi et al. (2020) argue that leaders are expected to use excellent interventional measures to provide these service providers with stable emotional, physical, and mental status. Leaders have a central role to play in addressing burnout. Therefore, more research should explore the phenomena.
Also, more research should focus on nurses’ exposure to professional burnout (Sharifi et al., 2020). They form a large part of the healthcare workforce. Nurses oversee patients’ health and overall well-being by spending a large amount of their working time managing their recovery and progress. Health care providers interact with patients. For example, a nurse visits patients to monitor their progress and overall status. This can expose them to burnout, especially if they fail to receive adequate support from top leadership. Thus, there is a need to advance research focusing on leadership strategies that may influence burnout, laying the foundation for quality leadership tactics that care administrators develop in protecting and safeguarding the health and welfare of the largest workforce in the industry.
Implications for Biblical Integration
Integrating the issue of professional burnout with biblical perspectives will likely target outcomes (Cook, 2020). Addressing this burnout among healthcare providers calls for alignment with biblical teachings and values, ensuring that the stakeholders targeted to handle and manage this problem live to their mandate and expectations. In this case, leaders ensure they advance their responsibility toward healthcare professionals where they observe the environment and introduce approaches that limit the emergence of burnout. As the Bible states in Proverbs 27:12, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions while the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (New International Version). There is a call for healthcare leaders to identify gaps and dangers associated with professional burnout and introduce viable ways of reducing their emergence. This will protect healthcare providers. For example, decreasing burnout will portray a healthcare establishment as a principal service provider that delivers quality outcomes. This biblical quote urges leaders to be attentive to issues that could expose care providers to burnout and take immediate and appropriate actions. There is an improved commitment to health care providers’ health and the overall well-being in a highly demanding working environment attributed to an increased surge in COVID-19 virus cases.
Research into the impact of leadership on burnout among healthcare practitioners can be effectively understood by analyzing the issue from a biblical perspective. The biblical perspective is significantly critical because it yields a fruitful analysis of various elements to understand that God has revealed everything to us in spirit (Badley et al., 2011, 1 Corinthians 2:10).
The research will be conducted from a biblical perspective through various research elements. Guided by the biblical perspective of research, the study will be initiated through effective planning. According to the Bible, God urges us to “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:9, New International Version). This evidences that the biblical perspective of research demands that researchers initiate every type of study through proper planning. The Biblical perspective of research affirms that appropriate planning will enhance the applicability and relevance of the research by ensuring that the investigation is guided by reason and yields benefits to those involved. Secondly, the research will be conducted to meet security standards. The Bible affirms that “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 22:3, NIV). Using a biblical perspective in research allows the understanding that security threats in research are more than physical concerns. This will enable the researchers to be careful not to infringe the participant’s privacy and emotional balance with the understanding that the security of physical, mental, and emotional state is vital in promoting the accuracy and reliability of the research.
Benefit and Relationship to Leadership Practice
The research study focuses on addressing COVID-19 burnout among healthcare workers, potentially laying the foundation for effective leadership strategies to boost the health and welfare of all service providers (Dalla’Ora et al., 2020). The research may provide valuable insights that healthcare leaders can integrate and implement to create a conducive working environment for healthcare providers during the pandemic. Leaders will benefit from a wide range of potential ideas likely to reduce professional burnout among service providers. The research also helps in handling future pandemics that can generate similar outcomes. It positions healthcare leaders in a better place to develop proactive actions seeking to protect healthcare workers from mental, physical, and psychological exhaustion amidst the demanding working environment (Dalla’Ora et al., 2020). Excessive workload and lack of relevant resources are central issues that expose care providers to burnout (Dalla’Ora et al., 2020). Depending on the problems exposing care providers to burnout and the status of the working environment, leaders can introduce and initiate significant measures that diminish associated issues.
The principal focus of the research is to raise a call for the healthcare administrators and other leaders to focus on building strategic frameworks capable of addressing issues that generate professional burnout among care providers (Khasne et al., 2020). Research indicates that leaders have failed to adopt these frameworks, making care providers prone to increased burnout (Khasne et al., 2020). This leaves the healthcare personnel unable to offer vital services due to reduced motivation and job satisfaction (Khasne et al., 2020). For instance, during the pandemic, most care providers terminated their services with various providers because they feared for their safety and lacked optimal job motivation. It is the responsibility of the leaders to create a potential working environment that allows care providers to carry out their job satisfactorily (Khasne et al., 2020). Thus, the research creates awareness of imperative leadership strategies likely to reduce professional burnout among the healthcare personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the future. Overall, the central focus is to create leadership awareness of the strategic approaches they can invest in to limit burnout during the pandemic and future related conditions (Lasalvia et al., 2021). The solution to reduced burnout in the healthcare domain lies with the leaders (Lasalvia et al., 2021). As the key decision-makers, they have a crucial responsibility to initiate robust interventional measures that create a safe, secure, and flexible working environment for these team members during the pandemic (Lasalvia et al., 2021).
Summary of Significance of the Study
The central aim of the study is to assess strategies that leaders can utilize to reduce professional burnout among healthcare providers, especially during the pandemic (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Most issues leading to burnout within the healthcare workers connect to the leadership role (Lasalvia et al., 2021). For example, increased workloads, lack of viable support systems, and limited access to personal protective equipment are linked to the leadership role. They generate burnout that challenges care providers’ capacity and ability to offer essential services (Lasalvia et al., 2021). For example, when nurses are exhausted from handling many patients, they will likely produce bad outcomes. Burnout remains a primary occupational challenge that leaders have failed to address through strategic frameworks and associated plans (Lasalvia et al., 2021). This study will seek answers on the impact of leadership and specific practices that may offer relief from burnout. Integrating a biblical perspective ensures that all healthcare stakeholders engage in behaviors and actions that fulfill everyone’s needs, interests, and expectations as recommended in the Bible.
Review of the Professional and Academic Literature
Overview
The review focuses on the role of leaders in handling professional burnout among care providers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and future occurrences. The primary aim is to evaluate how leaders can use their positions to introduce strategic actions that limit exposure to professional burnout. Research has shown that leaders have failed to initiate strategies and effective interventions to address and prevent burnout in the workplace (Jalili et al., 2021). This has continued to expose care providers to this problem. The analysis will delve into existing leadership gaps that have paved the way for massive burnout among healthcare providers during the pandemic. This will generate viable recommendations that healthcare institutional leaders should develop and implement to prevent their workforce from developing burnout.
Leadership is a critical aspect of the healthcare system (Jalili et al., 2021). Proper leadership ensures quality service delivery because of a motivated and enthusiastic workforce (Jalili et al., 2021). However, despite most healthcare institutions having great leaders, various issues may undermine the efforts of these leaders in achieving the best patient outcomes (Khasne et al., 2020). For instance, healthcare institutions should always be prepared to handle emergencies. Leaders are at the forefront, leading their followers to attain results even in challenging situations (Khasne et al., 2020). However, not many were prepared to handle pandemics as massive as the COVID-19 that ravaged the world (Khasne et al., 2020). The pandemic exposed the challenges facing healthcare institutions globally (Khasne et al., 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has affected various institutions because most medical facilities did not have a preparation model for their healthcare workers that would have ensured flawless transition into emergency care for COVID-19 victims (Khasne et al., 2020). The leaders should lead the team through change and make goals public. Burnout continues to be a significant challenge due to the leaders’ lack of effective strategies in addressing issues that expose healthcare workers to professional burnout (Lasalvia et al., 2021). The lack of strategic leadership in healthcare facilities has hindered effective interventions addressing professional burnout among health professionals (Jalili et al., 2021).
This research explores possible leadership failure in addressing professional burnout. Leadership gaps in healthcare organizations are to blame for the growing professional burnout among healthcare professionals (McPherson et al., 2022). Seemingly, many healthcare leaders may have lost touch with the realities facing medical professionals. Many health administrators did not respond to emerging COVID-19 risks. Many healthcare workers were forced to work under strenuous and unsafe conditions during the pandemic. However, burnout is not new among healthcare providers (Mcpherson et al., 2022). Before the pandemic, most healthcare professionals, especially nurses, worked 12-hour shifts contrary to 8-hours dictated by labor laws. Despite working for excessively long hours, medical professionals are unpaid and underappreciated (Mcpherson et al., 2022). As a result, this demoralizes medical professionals, attracting burnout. As COVID-19 infectious rose, some medical professionals worked for 14- 16 hours daily, accelerating professional burnout (Lasalvia et al., 2021). The enormous professional burnout within the medical community calls for leadership changes (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Leaders in the healthcare sector should be sensitive to their employees’ needs by adopting a supportive leadership strategy (Lasalvia et al., 2021).
Leadership Practices and Employee Engagement
Leadership is deemed a critical factor that generates exposure to professional burnout among healthcare providers (McPherson et al., 2022). McPherson et al. (2022) find that the lack of objectivity in decision-making leads to the overall feeling of powerlessness among care providers. This entails the absence of transparency and openness as far as decision-making is concerned. It portrays that leaders may have failed their task as decision-makers in the institutional setting. Further research indicates that nursing leaders have been unable to improve the working environment and thus exposed the workforce to professional burnout (Mudallal, Othman, & Al Hassan, 2017). This has caused an enormous gap in making the working environment safe and favorable for all the team workers. For instance, if care providers are working for longer hours, they tend to develop burnout. This hinders their ability and capacity to deliver the projected results.
Nurses have been primarily exposed to burnout due to the hectic nature of their work setting (Kelly & Hearld, 2020). Statistics reveal that 50% of healthcare providers report high-stress levels due to high case workloads (Kelly & Hearld, 2020). This indicates that the leadership level has failed to introduce strategies to improve the working environment amidst demanding schedules. Thus, this calls for leaders to submit quality decisions to avoid exposing care providers to professional burnout. Daily job demands, longer working hours, and high workloads have exposed care providers to this menace (Bosak et al., 2021). This highlights the lack of effective leadership styles across various healthcare centers. For example, by introducing effective organizational policies, leaders can open the opportunity to address the existing cases of professional burnout among healthcare providers.
Policies have a significant relationship with the performance of healthcare workers because they allow leaders to create the desired work environment (Sultan et al., 2020). A report indicates that 35% to 54% of healthcare workers experience burnout because none of the six goals provided by the National Academy of Medicine offer proper staffing ratios to the medical facilities to establish practitioner wellness (Vuong, 2020). According to research, a good approach for reducing employee burnout is providing stress management interventions, offering social support, and engaging the workers in decisions (Gabriel & Aguinis, 2021). As a result, this enables the employees to design and craft their work environment and introduce high-quality performance management strategies.
Employee engagement refers to the team’s ability and willingness to invest or use their effort to accomplish organizational objectives (Shahid, 2019). Without staff engagement, an organization is likely to demoralize the people. Hence, this shows why staff engagement is a critical motivation and success factor in the workplace. The engagement concept emphasizes flexibility and continuous improvement. Empowerment is also at the heart of employee engagement (Shahid, 2019). Thus, this show why it is essential to invest in staff engagement.
Employee engagement introduces true inspiration to employees where a lack of it results in a disconnect among leaders and workers (Sultan et al., 2020). The staff engagement framework establishes a structured approach demonstrating how senior executives should engage with the staff and provide an outline of how to achieve objectives. As an employer, it is critical to engage with the staff members at different levels using various communication and consultation methods. The main reason for this aspect is to determine how to reward and recognize performance or achievement (Wicherts et al., 2016). Engaged people take ownership of their duties, are clear on their responsibilities, determine how they will fit into the broader organization, feel empowered, motivated, and enjoy being part of the organization (Democracy Towers Hamlets, n.d.). Staff engagement also ignites staff loyalty and helps an organization maximize success. Thus, this shows why maximizing staff engagement should be a priority.
Organizations can implement a host of staff engagement practices. One way to maximize staff engagement is to ensure that the team members are actively involved in the communication and decision-making matters within the workplace (Wicherts et al., 2016). Another effective way of staff engagement is to ensure appropriate communication (Shahid, 2019). Employees also need to be well-informed about relevant matters of the organization. The following figure illustrates the employee engagement model showing the relationship between different processes that affect staff engagement. Managers must utilize processes to promote staff engagement at different organizational levels.
Figure 2
Employee Engagement Diagram
Leadership dynamics is a fundamental factor in resolving burnout issues experienced by healthcare workers during and post COVID-19 season (Al-Malki et al., 2018). During the season of COVID-19, the factor that caused the progress the burnout was poor human resource management at the leadership level (Al-Malki et al., 2018). Poor structures that caused the healthcare workers to be subjected to long working hours caused the creation of the burnout factor that substantially reduced the overall scope of the burnout factor towards the operations of the personnel (Amanullah et al., 2020). The increment of the workload to the workers because of the surge for the patients who needed the critical attention for the progress of enhancing the operation’s sustainability became the overall dynamic that lacked objectivity in managing the situation for the specific needs for the issues raised through the platform (Amanullah et al., 2020). Therefore, it became the springboard for realizing the stress function of the healthcare workers in providing services to the patients. The leadership could ensure that outsourcing for the healthcare workers is incorporated into the strategies for managing the situation. Countries with high numbers of healthcare workers could supply the American health department with the requisite numbers of healthcare workers who would have mitigated the demand for healthcare services (Amanullah et al., 2020). This is a function of the leadership model that is incorporated at the executive level of determining the progressive solution to the specific answer to issues for creating sustainability.
Development of a sustainable schedule for managing the working hours for the workers and incorporating a model of instituting dynamics of relaxation may be a way to reduce stress for the healthcare workers (Lee et al., 2018). Despite being professionals, they have human nature in them, thus making them susceptible to stress function (Lee et al., 2018). From this scope, it becomes critical that creating a powerful solution to the scheduling model helps to cause the sustainability of managing the time for relaxation for the healthcare workers. Integrating this management scope helps instill resilience in the employees’ workmanship and solve the sustainability of the focus (Lasalvia et al., 2021). The failure to integrate this model of creating focus causes the dynamic function for solving the progressive impact of the workers to be compromised on the account that they are obligated to work according to the requirements of the conditional provisions of the management. Therefore, it is integral in establishing a condition for improving the dynamics of solving the issues of the worker. Introducing the dynamics of providing nap time for the healthcare workers is a fundamental approach to managing their healthcare capacity and ensuring that they successfully help promote the operation’s sustainability. The failure to incorporate this operation model helps bolster effective dynamics in resolving the substantial solution to the workers’ tiredness issues (Amanullah et al., 2020). Introducing the approach of nap time would effectively cause the sustainability of resolving the substantial provisions for managing the sustainable dynamics in ensuring that progression of optimal health is attained.
Adopting different leadership styles that are progressive according to the situation’s issues helps solve the problem issues of burnout with healthcare providers (Eliyana et al., 2019). From this progress, it becomes instrumental in balancing the sustainability of the progress (Eliyana et al., 2019). Increasing these operation dynamics becomes the critical dimension that would help resolve the unique needs promoted through the scope of creating improvement into the unique issues that are advanced into incorporating sustainability. For instance, incorporating the transformational leadership model would help to progress the dimension of caring for the potential realization of the specific needs of the workers (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Accordingly, transformational leadership focuses on the special interests of the employees. In this scope, the leadership would help create the sustainability of the progress, essentially solving the specific focus in creating sustainability of the operation. Therefore, it is beneficial to ensure that progress is made in realizing sustainability as a function for improving the quality of life that is advanced to the workers who do not have an alternative to the negative impact of the healthcare service demand.
Similarly, the democratic leadership approach is instrumental in the sustainability of the burnout effect that had engulfed the healthcare workers during the pandemic (Eliyana et al., 2019). From this scope, sustainability is enhanced in developing progressive sustainability of the progress (Eliyana et al., 2019). Creating these provisions is integral to resolving the essential dynamics of the problem (Eliyana et al., 2019). Therefore, it is critical to advance an approach that is developed through the advancement of the sustainable improvement toward resolving the issues that the workers experience. This brings the aspect of key theories that can support healthcare leaders in reducing burnout in the workplace. These include transformation and servant leadership.
Healthcare institutional leaders should integrate transformative leadership to address the alarming cases of professional burnout among care providers (Liu et al., 2019). Research shows that transformational leadership can reduce the risk of burnout due to the promotion of workforce psychological empowerment (Liu et al., 2019). This entails leaders making crucial decisions that boost their employees’ physical and mental status. For example, when leaders stimulate their relationships with their followers, this leads to improved job satisfaction, motivation, and performance. This means that workers will develop in-depth satisfaction irrespective of the state of their working environment. Also, leaders can offer social support amidst the emotional strain healthcare providers experience in the workplace (Liu et al., 2019). This ensures that workers develop improved mental status while managing their duties and responsibilities. Further research indicates that transformational leaders can reduce burnout by making an organization’s mission attractive and salient (Bosak et al., 2021). This focuses on a social-oriented mission. Leaders ensure that they develop an attractive and supportive mission to enable workers to deliver to the expectations while working in a safe and comfortable environment (Boamah, 2022). Boamah (2022) also reveals that transformational leadership strongly impacts workplace culture, job satisfaction, and an inverse direct outcome on burnout. This shows that leaders can introduce a quality working environment that boosts motivation and satisfaction irrespective of the challenges experienced. It lays the foundation for reduced exposure to burnout.
Servant leadership is another strategic model capable of supporting leaders in the fight against burnout in the healthcare domain (Ma et al., 2021). Ma et al. (2021) reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed care providers to burnout, with leaders being called to ensure that they integrate servant leadership strategies to alleviate this menace. This entails focusing on the health and well-being of the workforce. For instance, leaders ensure that they build quality working conditions to protect their employees from being prone to burnout. Imran (2019) also argues that servant leaders can reduce workforce stress, leading to burnout. Their sole objective remains to be committed to serving workers. Thus, they use their positions to initiate decisions and actions that limit the emergence of burnout among care providers.
The Problem
The general problem is healthcare leaders’ failure to develop strategic frameworks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in increased burnout among healthcare professionals. According to Jalili et al. (2021), because the leaders failed to develop a strategic framework, there is an increased professional burnout among healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients. In a recent study, Khasne et al. (2020) found that many healthcare professionals blamed their leaders for a lack of preparedness to deal with COVID-19, which resulted in mental strain for the caregivers. Therefore, this shows that leadership failure is a top driver driving professional burnout among healthcare providers.
A similar study by Lasalvia et al. (2021) revealed that burnout among healthcare staff members during the pandemic was an issue of concern. Still, leaders had not done enough to mitigate the adverse implications. Sultana et al. (2020) supports this issue by stating that burnout is a major occupational problem among healthcare providers, and leaders have a critical role in developing intervention measures. The specific problem to be addressed in evaluating the senior healthcare leaders within the south-eastern United States to effectively develop adequate responses to COVID-19, resulting in a potential increased burnout among healthcare professionals.
Research has revealed that professional burnout does not arise from the vacuum and that leaders play a vital role in creating a conducive environment that protects workers from exposure to burnout (Cotel et al., 2021). Lack of effective leadership abilities and capabilities leaves care providers prone to the menace. Professional burnout occurs from the healthcare domain’s hectic and demanding status, especially during the pandemic. Care providers exposed to burnout depict symptoms such as anger, irritation, loss of productivity, anxiety, and emotional distress (Sultana et al., 2021). These are crucial issues likely to undermine the productivity of healthcare providers when their services are primarily needed. The failure of leaders to develop strategic change approaches to diminish exposure to burnout continues to accelerate the situation. Cotel et al. (2021) reveal that healthcare institutional leaders should spot signs and create opportunities that pave the way for reduced burnout. If they are in a position to detect gaps that lead to increased cases of burnout, they can develop essential solutions that limit the emergence of this menace. According to available research, curing professional burnout is better and easier than preventing burnout (Cotel et al., 2021). Purposeful and regular one-on-one meetings are critical anti-burnout strategies that leaders in the healthcare sector must embrace (Cotel et al., 2021). In addition, leaders are obligated to monitor the workloads and support the professional interests of the team members. Leaders are forced to intervene if burnout arises. For example, leaders are forced to act if they identify behavior change or the rise of unbecoming behavior in the workplace.
Burnout of healthcare workers is a critical problem that derails the performance level that the employees provide (Liu et al., 2019). The scope of burnout is caused by the high demand for the services when the time and the high number of patients caused the creation of the stress function (Liu et al, 2019). Therefore, it became substantial that realizing the sustainable approach to developing situational dynamics is created by resolving the issues created to resolve the problem (Liu et al., 2019). The stakeholders in managing the burnout effect on the healthcare workers are responsible for enabling the solution to the progressive management of the problem (Liu et al., 2019). Progressively, resolving the issue of burnout is beneficial for allowing the solution to the provision of healthcare services.
Concepts
The Role of Leadership
The pandemic has led to increased emotional and physical exhaustion among healthcare professionals due to the increased COVID-19 infection rates globally (Cotel et al., 2021). However, professional burnout is not a new phenomenon. Professional burnout has remained a major issue across healthcare institutions for many years. However, it is the COVID-19 that reawakened the study interest in professional burnout across academic and research circles (Cotel et al., 2021). Current research has investigated the interrelationship between professional leadership and professional burnout. Researchers agree that leadership weaknesses or gaps were ineffective or poor responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (WHO, 2020, September 17). Therefore, this presented a classic and reliable finding on the leadership implication of professional leadership. Effective intervention toward professional burnout is likely to address issues that may undermine burnout concerns. There is a close link between professional leadership and burnout in healthcare. Papathanasiou et al. (2014) note that leadership is placed at the center of burnout which healthcare professionals experience. This means that leadership capacity determines the status of occupational burnout portrayed in the care setting. A call for leaders to invest in a tactical leadership approach such as the path-goal leadership strategy will pave the way for reduced burnout (Papathanasiou et al., 2014). Further research indicates that reducing burnout requires organizational leaders’ efforts to integrate crucial and advanced leadership strategies (McPherson et al., 2022). This means that leaders play a pivotal role in addressing the emergence of occupational burnout and should always live up to the expectation. They should adjust the working environment during the pandemic to accelerate the health and well-being of care providers. For example, alleviating burnout can focus on recruiting adequate staff and creating flexible schedules (Shah et al., 2021). This shows that reducing the risk of facing burnout lies in the leadership domain.
Afulani et al. (2021) believe that low perceived preparedness to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic exposed care providers to professional burnout. When the situation emerged, leaders failed to take prompt and quality actions to protect their workers from developing stress amidst the present demanding environment. This exposed them to burnout since they were working in a hectic work setting. Kniffin et al. (2021) also highlight that leaders have remained a major support system since the pandemic. With the organizational setting experiencing massive changes, leaders needed to adjust operations and strategies to ensure that their workers were protected from occupational burnout. Kloutsinotis et al. (2022) also argue that the leadership approaches adopted by top-level leaders determined the milestones that healthcare providers experienced in the workplace.
Researchers across diverse studies have shown how the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to burnout concern (Kloutsinotis et al., 2022). First, the spike in the COVID-19 infectious strained the inadequate healthcare workers in many organizations (WHO, 2020). An abrupt rise in the infectious rate met many healthcare facilities and leaders ill-prepared for the surging demand for medical services. Apart from the shortage of healthcare workers, many health professionals, especially nurses and clinicians, worked for longer working hours. Second, working long hours and lack of resting time overwhelmed the healthcare workers, leading to physical and mental exhaustion (WHO, 2020). According to Afulani et al. (2021), exposure to longer working hours and staffing are some of the gaps that led to increased exposure to occupational burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. This signifies the lack of adequate and strategic actions from the institutional leaders in making the environment better and conducive for these team members. Rising professional burnout was also evident from the symptoms exhibited by different healthcare workers. In addition, the harsh working environment led to professional burnout. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the safety and healthcare risks because of the high infection rate of the SARS-CoV2 virus (WHO, 2020). Therefore, this shows how the leadership failed to create a positive working environment to address staff psychological and physical safety.
Leadership plays an integral role in ensuring the smooth running of any given organization (Cotel et al., 2021). Great leadership pervades different organizational levels to ensure the smooth functioning of an organization. Great leaders support their staff’s welfare by addressing psychosocial and physical needs. According to research, there are various ways leaders support their team members. One way is to set realistic expectations and avoid overwhelming the staff with duties. Overwhelmed employees are unlikely to perform quality work, leading to service deterioration and eroding patient satisfaction.
Another way is to provide career-life balance (Cotel et al., 2021). Many leaders in the healthcare field do not acknowledge how career-life balance is important for job satisfaction and quality work (WHO, 2020). Through work-life balance, employees can achieve their emotional and social needs, including interacting with their loved ones and having time to rest (Sharifi et al., 2021). An excellent way to promote work-life balance is to hire sufficient healthcare staff to prevent employees from being overwhelmed with duties (Cotel et al., 2021). The inability to provide adequate protective equipment discouraged many healthcare employees from joining the workplace (WHO, 2020). Therefore, this may indicate healthcare workers left were overwhelmed with medical duties, leading to pandemic concerns.
COVID-19 pandemic exposed the gaps in the leadership quality needed to run healthcare facilities (Sharifi et al., 2021). Ineffective response and ill-preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 aftermath and implications exhibited the leadership’s failure to respond effectually to the pandemic (Sharifi et al., 2021). Leadership comes under the test during the unprecedented crisis. Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic was a major event that exposed leadership gaps that must be addressed (WHO, 2020). Poor leadership demonstrated by the healthcare administrators and top government officials reflected the leadership weaknesses that the government must address to safeguard and promote the staff welfare, including responding to burnout before, during, and after a crisis (WHO, 2020). An effective response to the staff welfare, including addressing burnout, is critical for improving efficiency and reducing costs (Sharifi et al., 2021). During the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership inefficiency within the health sector was largely to blame for poor professional burnout (Sharifi et al., 2021). In the first place, leaders were ineffective in identifying professional burnout. Effective leaders could have been quick to identify professional burnout if they cared about the professional burnout that come with disruptive trends, such as emergency cases (WHO, 2020). In addition, effective leaders ensure that various issues such as professional burnout do not affect the quality of health care services rendered to the patients (Anthony-McMann et al., 2017). Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic was a prime testimony to show leadership weaknesses among professional managers.
Various concepts are instrumental in resolving burnout factors faced by healthcare workers (Blake et al., 2020). Positive interaction is the primary model that effectively creates the solution for burnout (Blake et al., 2020). Improving the social relationships among the workers is instrumental in creating the right environment for managing the social needs that are provided for resolving the issue of burnout (Blake et al., 2020). Therefore, the environment must be developed to ensure the creation of the interaction. Chatting among healthcare workers is an approach that could successfully help in resolving the negative impact of the burnout problem (Raudenská et al., 2020). Creating these problems helps to ensure that the sustainability of the problem is determined. From this scope, it becomes instrumental in ensuring that progress development is created. Establishing these dynamics is instrumental in developing the sustainability of the problem experienced by these workers (Raudenská et al., 2020). Complimenting one another within the working space is a crucial approach for ensuring that healthcare workers can resolve the issue of burnout (Raudenská et al., 2020).
Incorporating yoga sessions by the workers is an instrumental concept for managing burnout (Raudenská et al., 2020). Yoga sessions are controlled through meditation (Raudenská et al., 2020). The workers engaged in the meditation time, becoming the progressive masters of the environment around them. This is the beneficial factor that helps reduce the causative factors to the stress progress that the members of the workers feel in advancing their services (Raudenská et al., 2020). Creating these dynamic provisions helps to resolve the issue of the progressive improvement to the quality of the services promoted in creating sustainability of operations (Raudenská et al., 2020). The encouragement of the workers to engage in meditation during their relaxation time while in the workplace is an instrumental provision for ensuring that the stress factor that creates the burnout effect is controlled (Di Trani et al., 2021). This progressive factor helps make the sustainable dynamic of resolving the improvisation of critical progress. These dynamic factors help determine the progressive improvement to the quality of the work created for the employees.
Providing resting days for the healthcare workers is a progressive approach to managing the specific needs (Di Trani et al., 2021). In this dynamic, it becomes instrumental in creating a progressive improvement to the problem of the effective dynamic. Resolving to these factors are instrumental for creating a substantive solution to the issues created in establishing the operation’s sustainability (Di Trani et al., 2021). These are the critical dynamics that help resolve the sustainability of the management function. Affirmatively, incorporating days for resting, especially during a time of high demand for the workers’ services, is instrumental in managing the burnout problem that is instrumental to derailing the successful management of the problem (Di Trani et al., 2021). Failure to incorporate sustainable dynamics of resolving the progress of the problem becomes the dynamic factor in creating sustainability of the problem (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). These integral dynamics are instrumental in resolving the issues provided for through negative provision for determining the specific improvement of the problem (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). Therefore, the inclusion of resting days is an instrumental dimension for resolving the oppressive impact towards creating a substantial solution to the issue of realizing the improvement of the problem (Cleveland Clinic, 2022).
Burnout within Health Care Professionals
Effective leadership within the organization caters to the psychological welfare of its human resource (Sharifi et al., 2021). The massive loss of patients and healthcare professionals has led to fatigue and burnout of healthcare workers (Sharifi et al., 2021). Cotel et al., (2021) demonstrate that 50% of medical professionals have experienced exhaustion due to the COVID-19 pandemic (2021). Its means that half of the medical professionals are burned out.
According to available health reports, medical workers are on the frontline fighting the COVID-19, increasing their vulnerability to infections (Denning et al., 2021). Data has also shown that health workers and their families are among the most vulnerable population groups to physical and mental health during this pandemic (Denning et al., 2021). In addition, data across different countries reveals that COVID-19 infection rates are significantly greater within the medical community than infection rates within the general population. Although health workers represent 2- 3% of the world population, they represent 14% of the COVID-19 infection cases (WHO, 2020, September 17). In some nations, especially the underdeveloped ones, the infection rate is over 35% (WHO, 2020). Because of the high prevalence of COVID-19 within the medical community, thousands of healthcare workers have succumbed to this pandemic. Healthcare workers are far more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections than the general populace. However, there is limited data on whether infections among healthcare workers happen in community settings or within the workplace.
Besides the physical and biological risks, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed healthcare workers to extraordinary stress levels (Essex & Weldon, 2021). Research has shown that many medical workers live in fear because of their exposure to extraordinary psychological stress levels and a highly demanding workplace. In addition, medical workers constantly fear stigmatization because of the social stigmatization and isolation from their loved ones (Morgantini et al., 2020). Although COVID-19 accelerated psychological health risk, it is not the primary cause. A recent study has found that nearly 25% of healthcare workers experienced depression and anxiety before the pandemic (Essex & Weldon, 2021). In addition, the studies revealed that 33% of the medical professionals suffered from sleeping disorders during the pandemic (Morgantini et al., 2020). Reports by World Health Organization exposed an alarming rise in physical isolation, discrimination, and verbal harassment at the height of the COVID-19 (Morgantini et al., 2020).
In 2020, the World Health Organization called on governments and healthcare administrators to prioritize staff wellness by maintaining a safe working environment and addressing emerging safety threats to healthcare workers (WHO, 2020). This portrayed a central concern toward the health and well-being of the healthcare providers. As the infectious rate surged, the World Health Organization, through its director-general, Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus, continued emphasizing the unmatched role that healthcare workers play in maintaining public safety and health (WHO, 2020). For example, healthcare leaders were required to introduce mental resilience programs to help care providers to overcome the psychological and mental turmoil experienced in the line of duty (Ferreira & Gomes., 2021). This would enable healthcare professionals to handle critical services to the affected persons and at the same time escape the exposure to occupational burnout. Ma et al., (2021) also believes that mental resilience can reduce emergence of professional burnout in the workplace. This calls on leaders to ensure that they introduce and implement actions that diminish the likelihood of burnout occurring. Therefore, this implied that it is important to recognize and address the staff’s welfare and needs, including burnout issues.
In addition, this showed that the WHO understood the unique role healthcare professional played in addressing the pandemic (WHO, 2020). Recent studies have also highlighted how managing healthcare workers’ wellness is critical to a properly functioning healthcare system and societal wellness (WHO, 2020). During the pandemic, the WHO released a circular with protocols exposing how to protect the welfare of healthcare workers.
Shortages in Healthcare Professionals in Relations to COVID-19
The outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the acute shortage of healthcare providers within the healthcare system (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). The influence of COVID-19 on the safety of healthcare providers cannot be underestimated; hence, the burnout experienced by healthcare providers is of national concern, which has caused massive shortages within the healthcare system (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Many healthcare facilities face a high attrition rate because of the low job satisfaction, leading to staff shortages. Attrition is the failure to hire new staff after the incumbent employees leave the workplace (Morgantini et al., 2020). As a result, this reduces the size of employees to meet organizational needs.
In addition, this forces employers to allocate more duties to employees to cover tasks previously performed by exiting employees (Ali et al., 2021). A decline in job satisfaction during the COVID-19 was also a major factor in job turnover and attrition. Many healthcare employees left the workforce after the COVID-19 because the working environment became increasingly riskier (Russell, 2014). Moreover, many healthcare providers lost interest in the job they have a passion for, encouraging them to leave their workplaces and look for alternative employment (Essex & Weldon, 2021). As major players in the fight against the pandemic, healthcare workers were at the highest risk of contracting the COVID-19 infection. Hence this encouraged many healthcare workers to resign.
Leadership within the Organization
The healthcare organization has lost income due to non-emergency and specialty treatment cancellations due to leadership decisions (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). During the height of the pandemic, many leaders shifted attention towards efforts to control SARs-CoV2 infections. However, these leaders overlooked the management of other health conditions, including mental health disorders, obesity, hypertension, cancers, and other illnesses. Effective leaders struck a balance between COVID-19 interventions and those for other medical conditions. Importantly, striking this balance is instrumental in ensuring that resources (human capital and materials) are not overstretched in one area. Some of the vital aspects to be deliberated include the role of supervisors of healthcare institutions in causative to the cause of healthcare professionals’ burnout (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Developing a clear insight into the influence COVID-19 has on healthcare professionals’ burnout can positively inspire positive human resource management (Cotel et al., 2021). To fully effect the necessary changes and help the doctors overcome the challenges of the pandemic, employee engagement is essential.
Effective Leadership
The techniques needed to address the concept of employee relations and job satisfaction through incentive programs motivate employees to work and improve their welfare while in the workplace (Anthony-Mcmann et al., 2017). To successfully engage in employee engagement, leaders can adopt numerous strategies and programs to ensure employees are conversant with their roles, reducing burnout cases (Cotel et al., 2021). Under the WHO Charter, the governments should invest in health staff wellness, including adding risk allowances and protecting workers from physical and biological hazards. The WHO Charter also establishes safety and health protocols to advance safety measures and procedures (Sultana et al., 2020). Leadership is instrumental in employee engagement as it facilitates a continuous chain of communication regarding the issues that lead to burnout in healthcare workers (Sultana et al., 2020). The absence of leaders’ attention to healthcare staff leads to misunderstanding and work-related strain, resulting in burnout (Cotel et al., 2021).
Theories
Job Demands–Resources Theory (JD-R)
Job Demands- Resource Theory argues that the workload on an employee affects their stress levels (Cotel et al., 2021). According to job demands-resource theory, stress levels are directly proportionate to job demands and burnout (Cotel et al., 2021). Conversely, the positive job burnout effects are inversely correlational. Therefore, it means that positive elements of a job address the job dissatisfaction issue. This finding indicates that leaders should invest heavily in promoting job satisfaction (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Failure to invest in job satisfaction will bring severe issues to an organization, including eroding the satisfaction rate (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). When a leader increases job positives and lessens job demands, the staff will experience little stress. Hence, this will improve motivation and staff engagement levels. Therefore, this indicates why the research emphasizes the maximum job experience and satisfaction in the workplace.
Maslach’s Theory
Maslach’s theory connects how using resources could help reduce burnout in the research framework (Morgantini et al., 2020). Maslach proposed a framework for predicting the occurrence of burnout. The framework is called Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). According to the framework, some of the critical components that contribute to burnout are as follows: extreme assignment, negative co-existence with the community, lack of motivation, and lack of resource control (Morgantini et al., 2020). Hence, leaders should address the factors contributing to professional burnout among healthcare providers.
Conservation of Resources Theory
The Conservation of Resource Theory provides the necessary parameters to enhance the healthcare workers’ well-being, including vitality, the working environment conditions, and the profession’s tools (Prapanjaroensin et al., 2017). The Conservation of Resource Theory proposes three significant resources for healthcare workers: energy, conditions of work objects that workers interact with, and one’s characteristics (Prapanjaroensin et al., 2017). In line with the WHO (World Health Organization), the discussion of the Conservation Resource Theory defines burnout as the lack of energy or fatigue, pessimism in the workplace, or leaving one’s profession (Morgantini et al., 2020). Undeniably, the conservation of resources theory has provided an effective framework to expose the elements of burnout.
Actors
Health care professional
The health care professional is the main subject of this study. They need to identify how their work affects their mental health to seek help to prevent burnout (Lasalvia et al., 2021).
Burnout is a global health concern for nurses, physicians, and clinicians caused by stress in the workplace and not appropriately managed (Sharifi et al., 2021). Burnout manifests itself in three forms: fatigue or energy loss, pessimism about the job or mental distraction from work, and reduced professional effectiveness (Sharifi et al., 2021). Hence, leaders should have the capacity to recognize these major symptoms or signs of professional burnout, and effective identification of these symptoms allows a leader to address burnout.
Healthcare managers/ Administrators
Healthcare administrators and managers hire and assign duties to the rest of the team members. They also make available resources required by healthcare workers, like protective gear (Sultana et al., 2020). Healthcare administrators and managers are top decision-makers responsible for formulating an organization’s strategic intent and direction in healthcare facilities. In addition, healthcare managers and administrators serve as the liaison and the spokespersons (Russell, 2014). As liaisons, these leaders build networks and enter into agreements with the strategic partners on the organization’s behalf. Thus, this shows why health managers and administrators are critical shareholders.
Patient / Consumer
Patient welfare is adversely affected when the service provider’s quality of health and safety is constrained by burnout (Sharifi et al., 2021).  The patient is negatively affected when the health and safety of the healthcare worker are not guaranteed (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Nurse burnout may increase the risk of medical error, which negatively impacts patient health (Lasalvia et al., 2021). The constant death, the suffering, and the need to sympathize with customers who have admitted patients also cause burnout in the health care providers (Sharifi et al., 2021). At the COVID-19 peak, the surge in deaths traumatized many healthcare workers, increasing their burnout. Therefore, this shows that efforts to improve patient experience correlate with reducing professional burnout.
Constructs
The scope of managing the sustainability of operation is embedded in developing sustainability, thus impacting the lack of oppressive improvement to the quality of life for the healthcare workers (Blake et al., 2020). From this dimension, the quality of the healthcare workers’ work is a testament that burnout is developed (Blake et al., 2020). Sustainability is thus instrumental in realizing effectiveness for managing the problem. Creating an effective dynamic that is promoted in creating an effective solution to the problem helps develop the critical solution to the specific progress created in promoting the sustainable solution to the specific issues that are advanced through the problem being created. The failure to incorporate the model helps increase a negative dynamic of the scope of work that is incorporated through a solution to the problem (Eliyana et al., 2019). These are the instrumental factors that help resolve the issues encouraged by the healthcare workers. The overall development of the safety provisions helps create a sustainable condition that is promoted to enhance progressive solutions.
Developing sustainable burnout management through establishing an effective reward system for the healthcare workers is an instrumental construct for resolving the burnout effect (Schunk et al., 2020). The development of sustainable operation helps create an effective environment that is a substantial resolution in creating a resounding impact in helping promote sustainable impact (Schunk et al., 2020). Therefore, it is ideal to realize effective progression of the solution to the burnout factor that the workers experience as they advance their mandate. The failure to incorporate a sustainable approach would thus create a negative impact as a factor for promoting improved operation as a dynamic progression of the problems. Paying employees fairly is an approach that would help create the right environment to ensure productivity sustainability. Thus, it is ideal to incorporate a system that focuses on the financial affairs of the workers since they dictate the serial burnout effect, mainly because of the lack of meaning as advanced through the poor payment provisions (Eliyana et al., 2019). These sustainable provisions would resoundingly help create progress that is enhanced in creating the right solution to the problem (Schunk et al., 2020). These are the essential provisions that help resolve the specific issues to promote critical impact towards the resolution of the problem. Accordingly, it has been instrumental in realizing progress through enabling sustainability of reward dynamics that would provide the requisite motivation for curtailing the burnout effect.
Adopting physical development through exercising is a progressive model that is instrumental in realizing sustainability of the progress for managing the burnout effect (Shanukat et al., 2020). According to Shaukat et al. (2020), burnout is a factor promoted through the inclusion of negative health practices. Involvement in exercising regularly helps to enhance physical relaxation and reduce the chances of developing the burnout factor (Shaukat et al., 2020). Progressively, it becomes instrumental for enhancing improvement towards creating sustainable progress in creating the improvement towards the promotion of the progressive realization of the problem (Shaukat et al., 2020); (Verbeek et al., 2019). These are the instrumental provision that helps manage the burnout effect as realized by the high demand for the provision of services within an environment with high stress caused by the feeling that possible life-threatening infection may arise (Verbeek et al., 2019).
Integration of stress management is a fundamental factor in providing the resounding dynamics for resolving the negative impact of burnout (Verbeek et al., 2020). Accordingly, integration of the specific dynamics into solving the specific improvement to the quality of life becomes the instrumental factor that helps resolve the specific solutions attached through the provisions provided in the advancement of burnout control (Shreffler et al., 2020); (Verbeek et al., 2019). Thus, it is instrumental in ensuring that the progressive improvement to the quality of the working environment as a factor for promoting sustainability becomes the instrumental determinant for resolving burnout issues.
The Role of Stakeholders in Dealing with Healthcare Professional Burnout
The researcher will determine if the lack of a proper COVID-19 preventive framework is the primary contributor to burnout healthcare providers experience during the pandemic (Jalili et al., 2021; Khasne et al., 2020). Determining if health care leaders understand the meaning of a practical structure necessary to mitigate COVID-19 without causing burnout among the staff members is necessary. The researcher will seek to establish whether a proper COVID -19 preventive framework is the primary contributor to healthcare providers’ burnout. The burnout in this case is that which they experienced during the pandemic (Jalili et al., 2021). The research will also determine if health care leaders understand the meaning of practical structure necessary to mitigate COVID-19 without causing burnout.
Creating a Conducive Working Environment for the Employees
Creating a conducive working environment for healthcare service providers
is one of the most effective approaches to professional burnout (Morgantini et al., 2020). Health care leaders can implement a reliable framework to ensure staff members are sufficient to cater to the rising number of positive cases (Sultana et al., 2020). The healthcare leaders played an essential role in managing the workforce by recruiting non-specialized clinicians to assist in the hospitals while saving the most qualified healthcare workers from the frontline and restricting them to emergency and intensive care units during the pandemic.
Related Studies
The acute shortage of healthcare providers has exposed the current workforce to strains that have created burnout (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Professional burnout remains a central challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Healthcare workers are constantly emotionally and physically exhausted due to the alarming number of patients they handle during the pandemic (Anthony‐McMann et al., 2017). As the work demand increases across all hospital settings due to the high number of emerging infections, care providers are likely to become worn out (Cotel et al., 2021). Identifying issues such as excessive workload, limited rewards and recognition, and the lack of control of healthcare resources might allow healthcare leaders to address burnout (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Resource shortage has affected the provision of suitable rewards, appropriate resources for care delivery, and the employment of more care providers (Anthony‐McMann et al., 2017). Professional stressors such as lack of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), inadequate compensation, and extreme assignments have led to increased burnout among these professionals (Morgantini et al., 2020). Facilitating healthcare providers with the right resources and systems is a prerequisite for reducing professional burnout (Prapanjaroensin et al., 2017). Healthcare providers face mental strains emerging from the lack of preparedness amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (Khasne et al., 2020). Leaders have failed to integrate and implement quality preparedness approaches to boost workforce well-being during the pandemic
Leaders should examine factors that generate burnout and find effective handling to protect nurses against burnout (Anthony‐McMann et al., 2017). As Lasalvia et al. (2021) revealed, healthcare professionals act as the primary targets in this case, with leaders expected to safeguard their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Patients risk failing to achieve the projected outcomes when healthcare providers are exposed to burnout (Lasalvia et al., 2021). For example, care providers experiencing burnout are likely to cause medical errors that negatively impact patients’ health and welfare.
Overall, leaders’ inability to develop a robust and effective COVID-19 preventive framework is a primary barrier to the fight against professional burnout among healthcare providers (Jalili et al., 2021). Leaders have a paramount role in creating an excellent working environment that limits exhaustion among care providers. A strategy like adequate staffing will ensure that care providers can sufficiently care for the patients amidst the rising number of positive cases.
Several studies related to burnout management have been realized from the literature review. Human resource management is the fundamental study advanced in promoting sustainable progress in developing progress. According to Tewari et al. (2019), it becomes instrumental in ensuring that progress is created in resolving the employees’ issues. The instrumental factor becomes the underlying factor in determining the problems that the employees experience. Incorporating sustainable employee management would thus help provide a progressive solution to the problems attached to realizing sustainable progress (Tewari et al., 2019). Accordingly, the integral function is promoted in helping the coping mechanism in times of need, as evidenced by the COVID-19 situation that caused even the retirees to resume their duties to help combat the pandemic.
Resource management is another related study that the platform has revealed. Accordingly, the utility of the factor is instrumental in creating the overall progress as the ideal provision for creating sustainable improvement in developing sustainability. Thus, it is instrumental in ensuring that progress is enhanced in resolving the specific focus for managing the progressive resolution to the specific focus of enabling resounding progress for the inclusion of the specific focus (Wen et al., 2019). Therefore, this is a crucial factor in improving the progress of the factor. Furthermore, understanding the sustainable ways of managing the supportive resources in advancing the quality of services is critical to developing realistic dynamics that are instrumental for enhancing the operation’s sustainability (Amanullah et al., 2020). Thus, the realization of the progressive improvement to the sustainability of creating improved provision helps resolve the issues of governance as the main factor that helps provide the sustainable solution to the issue of enhancing the sustainability of the progress.
The public healthcare management study is another fundamental study. Accordingly, enhancing sustainability is a progressive factor that is instrumental in improving the quality of the healthcare services offered to the public (Wen, Ho et al., 2019). The provision of quality services depends on the quality of life provided by the scope of creating sustainability. Thus, it is critical to ensure that provision of the right progress is enhanced in resolving the overall progress for the creation of resounding pandemic management. It is thus a function of the public healthcare management that would help create sustainable service delivery as the optimal provision in developing progress (Eliyana et al., 2019). Thus, it is instrumental in ensuring that progress is provided for creating substantial solutions to the specific details for resolving the specific problems.
Anticipated and Discovered Themes
Most employees will recommend and emphasize the need for a better understanding of leaders’ role in protecting and safeguarding healthcare workers from professional burnout, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and others likely to emerge (Khasne et al., 2020). Improved leadership participation will reduce misunderstanding and other work-related strains that leave crucial gaps or burnout (Sultana et al., 2020). Healthcare workers may present the unexpected increase in the number of individuals with COVID-19 infections as a source of burnout because of increased pressure (Cotel et al., 2021). The shift in work descriptions and cultures after the pandemic has introduced uncertainty and new practices that pressure the healthcare workers (Jalili et al., 2021). A flexible working schedule will reduce associated burdens that make providers prone to burnout (Cotel et al., 2021). Therefore, this shows why healthcare providers should focus on developing a flexible schedule for their teams.
Employees might claim that increased appreciation through incentives such as rewards and bonuses might reduce their burnout levels (Anthony-Mcmann et al., 2017). Healthcare providers might report a failure by their administrators by claiming that the leaders should have evaluated the situation to develop proactive solutions when exposed to adverse conditions such as professional burnout (Khasne et al., 2020; Sultana et al., 2020). The employees might generally confirm that burnout is not a new concept by stating it has been prevalent before COVID-19 because of a lack of viable measures to mitigate this problem and its adverse outcomes (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Improved leadership participation will reduce misunderstanding and other work-related strains that leave crucial gaps or burnout.
Research has demonstrated various effective leadership practices to address burnout among healthcare workers (Sultana et al., 2020). Advisably, implementing safety precautions and infection control measures within the healthcare system is critical to improving employees’ physical and psychosocial health. Healthcare leaders can achieve safety within the workplace by offering adequate PPE supplies, and the PPEs should also be of great quality. In addition, adequate training of the medical workers on using PPEs and other safety precautions is essential. Adequate environmental services, including proper hygiene, sanitation, disinfection, and ventilation within the healthcare facility, are critical to maintaining population health. Moreover, vaccination of the medical staff to reduce their vulnerability to the COVID-19 infection is also critical in improving staff safety (Cook, 2020).
It is essential to establish policies that will prevent medical staff from overworking. In the policy, the leaders should ensure that the working schedules have realistic and fair working hours, allow for breaks, and reduce administrative healthcare burden (Ghassemi, 2021). The policy should also provide medical allowances and adequate insurance coverage for the growing risks in the healthcare-related environment (Ghassemi, 2021). Access to mental health in the medical community constitutes another major player in protecting population health. Sufficient access to social support and mental wellness for medical workers is crucial (Ali et al., 2021). Therefore, this will limit medical employees from experiencing professional burnout endemic in the COVID-19 environment.
Adequate protection of healthcare workers from violence can also address professional burnout. Anti-violence programs must be implemented according to relevant policies and laws (Ghassemi, 2021). In addition, leaders should cultivate zero tolerance for workplace violence. Reviewing labor legislation and introducing specific laws to limit workplace violence is also critical (Cook, 2020). Moreover, leaders should establish the helplines to allow healthcare workers to report incidents of violence in the workplace and support a confidential reporting framework.
Healthcare workers also have a major obligation to establish safety protocols and policies. It is essential to establish linkages between occupational safety and health to address violence. Leaders must also work towards integrating and incorporating requirements to promote workers’ safety programs. Moreover, leaders should establish patient safety reporting and learning structures or systems.
Developing and executing national healthcare programs for occupational safety consistent with the national health and safety protocols is also vital. Healthcare leaders should review and upgrade national regulations or laws for occupational safety and health hazards. In addition, leaders must develop guidelines or codes of practice to promote occupational safety and health among the leaders (Cook, 2020). Leaders must also promote intersectoral and interprofessional collaboration to ensure maximum safety accomplishment (Ali et al., 2021). Intersectoral and interprofessional safety management focuses on maximizing diversity and inclusion.
From the literature review, a critically anticipated theme revolved around employee management (Tewari et al., 2019). The dimension for creating impressive solutions to the problems faced by the employees in advancing their duties was an instrumental factor that required utmost improvement to ensure that the resou8bnding victory is realized. Creating a substantial solution to the problem of burnout became the critical determinant of employee management. Another integral theme anticipated revolved around crisis management (Tewari et al., 2019). In this scope, the focus is on the specific provisions. This provisional process would help resolve the critical need for creating overall progress. Thus, it is instrumental in focusing on developing the ideal progress in sustainable improvement of the ways for resolving problems once they occur.
The discovered themes may revolve around burnout management. The utility of meditation as a powerful tool for ensuring that sustainability is controlled became a critical factor in developing progress. Thus, the development of these factors became the ideal resolution that got the specification for improving progress (Tewari et al., 2019). These are the integral dynamics that help solve the respective dynamics for enhancing the necessary improvement in managing the stress as a causative function to the problem of the solution. Thus, it is instrumental in focusing on creating sustainable progress in developing effective solutions for the advancement of sustainable stress management.
The practical intervention to resolve the specific issues developed when managing stress among the target population was the application of different and suitable theories (Shaukat et al., 2020). Creating these models became the essential operation to help resolve the specific objectivity (Shaukat et al., 2020). Thus, sustainability improvement became the resounding factor that caused the creation of the critical improvement factor to be the ideal determinant in realizing adequate progress. For instance, the effort-recovery model has introduced the theme of managing the recovery process to promote progress in critically managing the solution. Accordingly, this operation model became the ideal process that helped create the progressive improvement toward managing the dynamics of operation (Shaukat et al., 2020); (Liu et al., 2019). These are the integral factors that help in maintaining the progressive improvement to the quality of resolving the specific issues that are connected to the burnout problem
Acquisition of the requisite human resources in the healthcare department may be a fundamental theme introduced by the problem. Improvement of these dynamics is provided by creating a specific focus on recruiting foreign healthcare workers to mitigate the deficit created within the healthcare platform (Blake et al., 2020). This progressive model is instrumental in managing the specific objective of resolving the problem’s issues. Accordingly, realizing the beneficial progress was offered by the specific determination of the ideal progress became critical. These substantial provisions helped create the resounding improvement to the problems. These are the integral factors that are beneficial in creating the sustainable improvement to the quality of work as progress through promoting the resounding impact as a factor for enhancing improvement of service delivery (Blake et al., 2020); (Amanullah et al., 2020). These are the instrumental themes that have been realized in the study.
Literature Review Summary
This literature review provides a specific focus on the perceptions and experiences of health care providers that can possibly provide more insight by which leadership can improve burnout. Burnout remains a significant difficulty due to leaders’ lack of effective ways to deal with issues predisposing healthcare personnel to professional burnout (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Hence, this requires leadership to address burnout concerns among healthcare workers because it ensures that professionals are engaged (Sultan et al., 2020). Creating successful leadership strategies helps address factors that contribute to miscommunication and work pressures and is critical to addressing burnout issues (Sultan et al., 2020). Therefore, this suggests the significance of building effective leadership practices to address the challenges above facing health workers.
Burnouts are common among healthcare professionals. Influential leaders implement burnout intervention strategies (Sultan et al., 2020). Healthcare providers need to plan ahead of time to deal with and manage the COVID-19 outbreak (Khasne et al., 2020). To avoid burnout, leaders should implement initiatives that guarantee healthcare providers are well-versed and informed about COVID-19 mitigation strategies (Sultan et al., 2020). Healthcare executives should be aware of their responsibilities to improve their chances of avoiding workplace burnout. (Khasne et al., 2020). Leaders should establish adequate personnel levels to ensure that caregivers are not overburdened by their tasks (Sultana et al., 2020). Leaders should invest in quality leadership styles, including employee engagement and transactional leadership (Sultan et al., 2020). The primary aim is to ensure that administrators and other leaders commit their time and efforts to developing measures that limit exposure to professional burnout in the workplace (Sultan et al., 2020; Anthony-McMann et al., 2017). The absence of effective strategies to provide healthcare services contributed to the high burnout rates among nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic (Lasalvia et al., 2021). Healthcare workers blamed hospital leadership for the inadequate preparedness measures that subsequently led to high burnout levels in healthcare workers (Khasne et al., 2020). Burnout among healthcare workers is a crucial issue; leaders have to ensure that such an issue does not affect the quality of services patients receive.
Among the most significant factors affecting employee performance is the work environment. Conducive work environments are the most effective solutions to burnout concerns in healthcare settings (Morgantini et al., 2020). Recruiting a sufficient workforce during the pandemic created a conducive healthcare working environment (Sultana et al., 2020; Morgantini et al., 2020). Workforce shortage contributes to burnout in healthcare professionals ((Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Administrators shall enhance leadership participation to ensure that leaders understand issues such as employee burnout and work strains (Sultana et al., 2020). Physical and mental exhaustion arose from the influx of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Summary and Transition
The topic “COVID-19 burnout among healthcare workers” is an area that many investigators have delved into in the current times. The research outcomes will add to the current literature and support other investigators undertaking similar studies. The central focus is on how leaders have exposed healthcare providers to professional burnout, especially during the pandemic (Khasne et al., 2020). The results are intended to offer leaders valuable insights focused on the strategic actions they can develop to reduce burnout. For example, developing flexible schedules and offering mental and psychological support services are some of the potential recommendations that the research will investigate. Leaders can take the results of the research to protect the healthcare workers from burnout. Section one consists of the purpose statement, research questions, research paradigm, research design, research framework, research assumptions, limitations, delimitations, summary, appendices, and academic references. The purpose statement section highlights the reasons behind the study. Also, it is the part that provides information regarding what the research intends to achieve (Bonache & Festing, 2020). In this case, the study aims to account for the healthcare provider burnout and mitigation measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research questions is a crucial part of the research because it identifies specific queries related to the study. The research must provide questions that guarantee focus from the beginning to the end (Gaya & Smith, 2016). Research questions enable researchers to remain grounded in the study topic. The Research Paradigm is the part of the study provides information concerning beliefs and agreements from the scientific field. The section indicates the agreed strategies for exploring and understanding scientific topics (Gustafsson, 2017). The study should not utilize any research formulas and theories, but the ones ratified by the scientific community. The research design is the part of the study that provides strategies used to incorporate all elements of the undertaking. It integrates all sections of the research into a comprehensible and logical unit. The research design includes an explanation of data collection (Gaya & Smith, 2016). Also, the section accounts for the measurement and data analysis. It ensures the researcher answers the research question or problem comprehensively. The research framework is a vital part of the research because it highlights and presents explanations of the relationships involving concepts, theories, and constructs (Gustafsson, 2017). Therefore, the study framework gives an overview of the right direction toward answering or solving the research problem. It guides scholars to focus on the objectives from the beginning to the end of the study. The research assumptions section accounts for the assumed factors within the research. Researchers must identify the assumptions because they can affect the outcomes adversely (Gustafsson, J. (2017). Mitigating the unwanted outcomes of assumption is crucial.
Limitations includes constraints related to the undertaking, and it could be time, resources, and lack of participants (Gaya & Smith, 2016). It is imperative to identify the limitations to plan how to overcome them. Delimitations entails the strategies to eliminate identified research limitations. Researchers must ensure the limitations do not interfere with outcome validity and reliability (Gaya, H. J., & Smith, E. E. (2016). In this way, the conclusion can be valid. The summary section summarizes explored concepts and offers an overview of the literature outline. The summary makes it easier for readers to understand the entire project (Butina, M. (2015). The summary should be comprehensive. Appendices and academic references are valuable in this research study. These are key perspectives that should be accommodated in the first section to prepare the readers for what they should expect to appear in section two.
The second part of this study will entail different segments such as research methodology, data collection, and measurement that establish an effective link with the first section to develop a solid picture of the overall research process and its projected goals and objectives. The researcher will establish the methodology for undertaking the research and provide supporting details surrounding the selected methods. An overview of the targeted population, sampling process, and sample size will be provided. This segment will pay in-depth attention to the data collection methods whose aim will be to gather data and information. A rationale behind the target group selection will also be included. For example, if the researcher highlights questionnaires and interviews as the central data collection methods, one must portray the reasons behind selecting them over others. Following the data collection part will be a descriptive analysis stage that will concentrate on interpreting the obtained information. This will lead to generalization, recommendations, and conclusions. With the use of an effective data analysis processes, the researcher will acquire valuable information leading to an effective generalization and conclusion. Research reliability and validity will also be established to ensure the conclusion made from the research is valid and reliable. The recommendations and conclusions derived from the research will add to an existing pool of academic literature linked to the topic at hand. Overall, the second section remains one of the most critical phases in a research study. It cultivates a better understanding of the topic at hand as established by the research outcomes.
Overview of Section 2
Section two will focus on the research methodology, the targeted population, sampling methods, the data collection process, analysis, recommendations, and conclusions. In the methodology part, the investigator will determine the integral research methods used. This might include surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments. The rationale behind each selection will be provided. This will consist of the targeted population, desired and selected sample size, sampling procedure, and rationale. One of the primary approaches that will define this segment is the data collection process. The researcher will collect valuable data and information useful in the research. A well-established plan of useful data tools, the collection strategy, and data organization will be highlighted in this part. The investigator will provide supporting information behind reliance on the selected data collection methods and their role in providing integrity and reliance. After collecting data, an analysis procedure will follow where the researcher will use vital tools and techniques to analyze the obtained data and information. A recommendation and conclusion part will follow to highlight to the audience the outcomes achieved and how they support the research questions. The researcher will also provide details focusing on the reliability and validity of the research project and supporting information. This research’s generalizations, recommendations, and conclusions will highlight if leaders are responsible for protecting healthcare workers against burnout. This information will add to existing literature relevant to this domain.
Appendices
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