Volume 6, Article 2

Volume 6, Article 2

Stress and Burnout among university employees: The role of self-compassion
Louise Wasylkiw and Hannah R. James

Citation: Wasylkiw, L., & James, H. (2022). Stress and Burnout among university employees: The role of self-compassion. International Journal of Stress Prevention and Wellbeing, 6, 2, 1-14. https://www.stressprevention.net/volume/volume-6-2022/volume-6-article-2/

Processing dates: Submitted: 13 July 2021, Resubmitted: 30 December 2021, Accepted: 21 January 2022, Published: 12 September 2022

Background/Aims/Objectives: Several reports provide evidence of the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on employees and highlight the critical role of workload for the  experience of stress, the potential for burnout, and decreased job satisfaction. In the present study, we extended the research on the relationship that self-compassion has with stress, burnout, and job satisfaction by sampling university employees.

Methods/Methodology: University employees (N = 104) participated in an online survey approximately one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a mixed methods approach, participants responded to questions regarding their mental health, self-compassion, and satisfaction with their work.

Results: Results showed that teaching employees reported higher rates of stress and burnout compared to non-teaching employees. Importantly, using robust statistics, we showed that stress and burnout played a serial mediating role in the relationship between self-compassion and job satisfaction such that higher self-compassion was associated with less stress and less burnout which in turn was associated with more job satisfaction. Qualitative analyses of open-ended responses suggested that employees had amassed strategies to cope with changes due to the pandemic.

Discussion: Overall, the results from the present study suggest that self-compassion may be an effective strategy to cope with the demands of one’s work thereby reducing stress and decreasing the likelihood of burnout and ultimately increasing job satisfaction. By outlining the limitations of the present study, we offer recommendations for future research.

Conclusion: Together with the growing body of research on self-compassion and burnout, the present study supports the benefits of fostering self-compassion in the workplace.

Key words: Stress, burnout, job satisfaction, self-compassion, university employees


Louise Wasylkiw is with the Department of Psychology, Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, Canada

Hannah James is with the Department of Psychology, Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, Canada