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Hear me, see me, trust you – job burnout and disengagement of Australian aged care workers

Richard Olley (School of Medicine and Dentistry, Griffith University, South Brisbane, Australia)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 19 September 2022

Issue publication date: 27 January 2023




The themes that emerged from the qualitative data of a mixed methods study that explored the effects of leadership style on the job satisfaction of aged care workers.


The study is a mixed methods study with the qualitative approach informing the interpretative phenomenological analysis from the transcripts of semi-structured interviews.


Three themes related to the effects of leadership style on job satisfaction of aged care employees emerged from the IPA. These themes were, The Context of Aged Care, Employee Engagement and Voice and Leader Behaviour. Job burnout and organisational disengagement were prevalent in participants of the qualitative study.

Research limitations/implications

The research deployed quantitative measurements to determine the differences between aged care leaders and their followers and used these to explore participants’ lived experiences and how they made sense of their personal and social worlds at work. In the quantitative study, there may be an overstatement of the strength of the relationship between variables among those motivated to participate in the study. The qualitative study requires the researcher to be thorough in describing the research context, and it may be that those who wish to transfer the results of this study to a different one are responsible for making the judgement on the suitability of the transferability of findings.

Practical implications

Decreasing job disengagement and burnout will positively impact reducing attrition and turnover and, thus, the availability of the aged care workforce. It will inform leadership development programs and training in aged care and other health and social care sectors.

Social implications

The workforce is a primary consideration for aged care in Australia and globally. Reducing burnout and disengagement will reduce workforce attrition, thus, improving the care for some of the most vulnerable in the population.


This report is from original research with ethical clearance from a university human research ethics committee contributing to the knowledge of leadership practice in aged care in Australia.



The author gratefully acknowledges the academic guidance of my PhD supervisors, Professor Simon Broadley, Professor Eleanor Milligan, Associate Professor Patricia Lee and Professor Gary Rogers.


Olley, R. (2023), "Hear me, see me, trust you – job burnout and disengagement of Australian aged care workers", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 111-124.



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