“I find it very difficult to go to work; it is emotionally exhausting” : Understanding the Burnout and Underlying Emotions among Malaysian University Academics


  • Fairuz A'dilah Rusdi
  • Ateerah Abdul Razak
  • Zaleha Embong


burnout; academics; resilience; workload; job engagement


This study investigated the academic burnout experiences of staff at various universities in Malaysia. Qualitative content analysis was used to deconstruct the interview texts. The study involved n = 12 academics (ages 28–46) from several Malaysian higher education institutions. The key findings of this study centre on resilience, engagement and burnout. Eight themes were found: warning indicators of burnout, academic burnout triggers, coping strategies, work-life balance, love for the career, resilience and surviving in academia, the impact of burnout phases on oneself, and stress-inducing variables. The themes were connected to the academics’ unique experiences with the burnout phenomenon and problems in their current profession. Data from interviews revealed that most academics considered their work taxing and blamed issues like unmanageable workloads, excessive university requirements and a lack of resources for their burnout episodes. The results also demonstrate that academics were aware of the difficulties and institutional circumstances that add to the complexity of their day-to-day burnout experiences, offering a rich picture of their individual perspectives. Furthermore, individuals with specific personality types, such as perfectionistic traits or standards, tend to be more vulnerable to burnout. The results imply that for academics who experience burnout, relevant interventions and emotional support are essential and that the most resilient are those who maintain a positive attitude and have the capacity to cope with the challenges and responsibilities of an academic profession.



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