Burnout and self-regulation failure: A diary study of self-undermining and job crafting among nurses

Marta Roczniewska*, Arnold B. Bakker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
170 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: The objective was to test how nurse burnout impairs day-to-day adaptive self-regulation strategies that link levels of regulatory resources with employee job performance. Background: Regulatory resources help employees manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours on a daily basis. On days when these resources are low, employees may engage in maladaptive self-regulation: more self-undermining (i.e. creating additional obstacles) and less job crafting (i.e. optimizing job demands and resources), which debilitates their work performance. We expected that self-regulation is impaired especially when individuals exhibit low motivation and low ability to regulate their behaviour, that is, when they experience elevated burnout. Design: This research used a daily diary design. Nurses responded to a general survey and then completed daily diary surveys in three different moments: before, during and after work for 10 consecutive workdays (total reports N = 732). Method: A sample of 81 nurses from Polish hospitals and primary healthcare centres completed self-reported questionnaires between January and March 2018. Hypotheses were tested using multilevel modelling in Mplus. Results: Momentary self-regulatory capacity before work was negatively related to self-undermining and positively related to job crafting, and it indirectly predicted daily job performance. As hypothesized, these indirect relationships were moderated by general, chronic burnout. We found that only for employees with low levels of burnout, daily self-regulation was linked with better functioning via increased job crafting and decreased self-undermining. Conclusion: Chronic burnout disturbs day-to-day behaviour regulation. Individuals with elevated burnout symptoms have difficulty to translate momentary boosts in regulatory resources into adaptive strategies that are linked with higher performance. Impact: Our findings call for better recovery programmes, strategic Human Resource Management practices aimed at reducing factors that deplete daily self-regulatory resources, and finally top-down interventions preventing burnout among employees in the healthcare system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3424-3435
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Science Centre (Poland) under grant number 2015/17/N/HS6/02897 and Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (FORTE), grant number 2019‐00543.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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