Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - 95

Relationships Matter: The Predictive Effect
of Resident Assistant Mattering on
Their Levels of Experienced Burnout
EMPLOYEES IN SERVICE-ORIENTED, relationship-based jobs are prone to
experiencing feelings of burnout. As such, paraprofessional staff in college
housing environments, resident assistants (RAs), are not immune to its effects.
Since navigating relationships is the root cause of burnout, it makes sense to
focus on the relationships between service-providers and service-recipients
or, in the case of housing paraprofessionals, between RAs and their residents.
Existing literature on RA burnout has thus far neglected to focus on relationships
as having a fundamental association with burnout. To fill this gap in the literature,
this study used Rosenberg and McCullough's framework of mattering to explore
the relationships between RAs and their residents. The results revealed that the
combined factors of RA mattering substantially increased the variance explained
in burnout, above and beyond demographic and work characteristics alone.
More specifically, mattering was found to significantly predict two of the three
dimensions of burnout: depersonalization and personal accomplishment. Put
another way, RAs who feel they matter more to their residents experience lower
levels of depersonalization and higher feelings of personal accomplishment.
Implications and recommendations are discussed.
he phenomenon of burnout is most prevalent in " care-giving and service occupations,
where the core of the job [is] the relationships between provider and recipient "
(Maslach et al., 2001, p. 400). Substantial research from disciplines outside the
college housing industry, such as nursing and teaching, reveals many negative employee
outcomes associated with burnout, the most prominent of which are lower job satisfaction
and higher position attrition (Borman & Dowling, 2008; Fisher, 2011; Laschinger
et al., 2009; Scanlan & Still, 2013). Such negative outcomes threaten organizational
productivity and stability (Marshall et al., 2016).
The known consequences of burnout also extend beyond the direct impact on the
employees to the recipients of their care (Geving, 2007). This bidirectional impact is
not surprising given how burnout research began in relationship-based occupations
(e.g., Freudenberg, 1974; Maslach, 1976, 1978) and continued where interactions exist
Volume 48, No. 2 * 2022 95
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Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - Cover3
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