Get access

Acceleration in the care of older adults: new demands as predictors of employee burnout and engagement




This paper introduces the concept of acceleration-related demands in the care of older adults. It examines these new demands and their relation to cognitive, emotional, and physical job demands and to employee well-being.


Various changes in the healthcare systems of Western societies pose new demands for healthcare professionals' careers and jobs. In particular today's societal changes give rise to acceleration-related demands, which manifest themselves in work intensification and in increasing requirements to handle new technical equipment and to update one's job-related knowledge. It is, therefore, of interest to investigate the effects of these new demands on the well-being of employees.




Between March–June 2010 the survey was conducted among healthcare professionals involved in care of older adults in Austria. A total of 1498 employees provided data on cognitive, emotional, and physical job demands and on acceleration-related demands. The outcome variables were the core dimensions of burnout (emotional exhaustion and depersonalization) and engagement (vigour and dedication).


Hierarchical regression analyses show that acceleration-related demands explain additional variance for exhaustion, depersonalization, vigour, and dedication when controlling for cognitive, emotional, and physical demands. Furthermore, acceleration-related demands associated with increasing requirements to update one's knowledge are related to positive outcomes (vigour and dedication). Acceleration-related demands associated with an increasing work pace are related to negative outcomes such as emotional exhaustion.


Results illustrate that new demands resulting from social acceleration generate potential challenges for on-the-job learning and potential risks to employees' health and well-being.