Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Professional Project - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Public Service


College of Professional Studies

First Advisor

Robert Pavlik


In a society reliant on service workers to accommodate and assist individuals, it is imperative their own well-being not be overlooked. The purpose of the study was to identify the most effective methods of preventing burnout among practicing social workers, as well as the best interventions should burnout symptoms become present. The five leadership domains of organization, education, professional associations, personal support (interpersonal), and self-care (intrapersonal) and two leadership styles of transactional and transformational are examined to help identify these “best practices.” The methodology for the study included a review of literature, completion of questionnaires by social workers currently working at SET Ministry, Inc., in Milwaukee, WI, and a focus group comprised of Milwaukee community leaders. The data gathered were then reviewed and analyzed to form conclusions and develop recommendations for the five leadership domains. The findings and analysis showed that each questionnaire respondent had suffered at least one of the 13 burnout symptom indicators at some point in their career. The most common burnout symptoms were stress, frustration, and fatigue. In addition, the same strategies social workers used to overcome previous burnout symptoms are the strategies they continue to use to prevent burnout today. The most sustainable practitioner will be partners in transformational leadership with members of the leadership domains. Recommendations include developing collaborative relationships between universities and social work agencies to ensure the social work student receives tools for self-care to prevent burnout symptoms from occurring. Formal mentoring programs within the workplace as well as an in-house support group for social workers are recommended as well as more transparent communication between leadership at SET Ministry, Inc. and the social work staff. Above all, social workers must feel these leadership domains are available for them to rely on for support in their work.



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