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Evidence of Museum Worker Burnout Grows

  • 1.  Evidence of Museum Worker Burnout Grows

    Posted 12-21-2021 11:51 AM
    Dear colleagues: [indulgence coveted for cross-posting]
    New disturbing evidence that ignoring the rising rates of burnout among museum practitioners continues to damage the Quality of Working Lives (QWL) in our industry & is driving "a great resignation" from it is presented in the most recent post on the Solving Task Saturation for Museum Workers blog.
    One proof comes from the British Columbia Museums Association in an important September 2021 report prepared by Michelle Willard & Lorraine Bell. It contains information from in-depth interviews with 20 paid museum executive directors.
    Among a range of wider concerns, this study reveals one troubling statement among other similar ones said after a 3-month stress leave!:
    I couldn't see myself staying. . .It just felt like it was so broken. I was a hundred percent burned out. . . I just really felt I couldn't even bear to go back. And just thinking about going back actually made me feel physically sick" (Willard & Bell 2021: 21-22) [emphasis added].
    See several other sources presenting parallel evidence in "Requisite Burnout Risk Management in the Museum Field" at .
    What is the solution? The Ontario Museum Association identifies it as follows:
    Moreover, employers need to be responsive in a way that better addresses the issues at hand [emphasis added].
    The sociology of work & even the Harvard Business Review concur by placing the prime responsibility for worker burnout on employers.

    To avoid "mental health claims at staggering levels [that] are going to be the new norm" health care providers are warning us about the need for concerted ACTION on museum worker burnout risk management.
    Respectfully yours
    Paul C. Thistle

    Paul C.Thistle
    Director/Curator (retired)
    Stratford, Ontario