Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work, PhD

Committee Chair

Harris, Lesley

Committee Member

Storer, Heather

Committee Member

Sar, Bibhuti

Committee Member

Gonzalez Benson, Odessa

Author's Keywords

refugee resettlement; burnout; work engagement; qualitative; mixed-method; organizational health


Refugee resettlement workers are crucial actors within refugee resettlement, supporting newcomers’ acculturation into a new society. Little is known about the comprehensive range of organizational characteristics that impact workers’ experiences of burnout and work engagement. This qualitatively driven mixed-method study using Constructivist Grounded Theory analytic techniques aimed to develop a holistic understanding of the organizational elements influencing burnout and work engagement among refugee resettlement workers. Further, the study aimed to illuminate the mechanisms by which job demands and resources influence burnout and work engagement. In-depth qualitative interviews with 22 refugee resettlement workers operating in a southeastern state of the United States were conducted. The analysis revealed a nuanced set of job demands and resources that significantly shaped workers' burnout and work engagement experiences. Notable job demands included (1) challenges in client interactions, (2) issues with staff capacity, (3) lack of leadership, (4) policy issues, and (5) an excessive workload. Alternatively, impactful job resources comprised (1) peer support, (2) positive client interactions, (3) supportive leadership, (4) autonomy, and (5) accessing training and professional development opportunities. Job demands impact burnout through energy loss, negative and distant attitudes, reduced professional self-efficacy, and disengagement. Conversely, resources bolstered work engagement through perseverance, role identification, positive attitudes, absorption, personal accomplishment, and extra-role behaviors. Practice recommendations include recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout among workers, developing individually tailored plans to address burnout and work engagement, and structural efforts to strengthen workers’ client interaction skills. Some examples of structural efforts include transforming leadership models to incorporate more supportive approaches and integrating policy advocacy within the scope of resettlement work. By addressing these attributes, refugee resettlement agencies can promote workers’ resilience and dedication in the workforce.

Included in

Social Work Commons