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Using Design-thinking to Explore Burnout Among Designers in the Workplace and Propose Solutions

Shelton, Nakia and Dickinson, Joan I. and Cline, Holly and Sullivan, Kathleen (2020) Using Design-thinking to Explore Burnout Among Designers in the Workplace and Propose Solutions. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Abstract

Burnout is an occupational phenomenon and is defined as a “psychological syndrome in response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job” (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001, pg. 399; World Health Organization, 2019a; World Health Organization, 2019b). Job turnover, excessive absenteeism, and numerous physical and emotional symptoms have been linked to burnout and have significant financial implications on the organizations where those whom suffer work. Workplace burnout has been widely researched and associated among human service occupations. Burnout interventions have been implemented by organizations as a way to assist employees suffering with or prone to burnout, with mixed results. Creative industries, particularly the designers who create visual designs, products, and experiences, according to the needs of clients, consumers, and application of products are among occupations who may be prone to burnout. However, there was a lack of empirical research on burnout as it pertains to designers and the organizations and conditions in which they work. Using design-thinking strategies, the purpose of this research study was to explore burnout among designers in the workplace and propose solutions. The study was divided into three parts and used a purposive sample of designers. Participants included web designers, graphic designers, animation designers, interior designers, motion graphics designers, industrial product designers, fashion designers, UI/UX designers, instructional designers, design educators, and architectural designers working full-time in private- and public-sector companies and institutions. Part one involved implementing strategies for looking and exploring burnout among designers in the workplace. The following strategies were implemented in sequential order: online survey, interviews, affinity clustering findings from the interviews, journaling, affinity clustering findings from journaling, and creating Persona Profiles to summarize research findings. Part two consisted of a design-thinking workshop with a group of designers to further understand and receive feedback on the results of the findings and develop solutions for alleviating and preventing burnout. Part three involved interviews with designers working for a company or institution for over 20 years to gain insight on their success of and experiences with burnout to help inform future research. Results from qualitative design-thinking strategies found that the majority of designers in the study had experienced burnout at some point in their careers. Solutions proposed for alleviating and preventing burnout in the workplace were focused on better communication; leadership support; managing workload and expectations; and establishing company fit within an organization.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: burnout, design thinking, designers, workplace
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Radford University > College of Visual and Performing Arts > Department of Design
Depositing User: Nakia Shelton
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2021 22:22
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 12:38
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/652

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