Job burnout prevalently exists across various industries (Rawolle et al. 2016
) and can harm employees and the organizations they work for (Maslach et al. 1997
). Among these effects are negative work attitudes (Kim 2016
; Tarcan et al. 2017
) and physical and mental health problems (Khamisa et al. 2015
; Duan-Porter et al. 2018
). Even though academics have widely recognized the importance of job burnout, significant differences still require urgent attention (Maslach and Leiter 2008
). It is important to note that there is a controversial definition of job burnout in addition to work engagement that remains unclear (Maricuțoiu et al. 2017
). Therefore, work engagement and job burnout are inseparable. This relationship affects individuals’ work performance, including energy, involvement, and productivity. This debate focuses on whether work engagement is the opposite of job burnout, representing two ends of the same spectrum (Goering et al. 2017
). Schaufeli et al.
) presented work engagement as a positive and fulfilling psychological state associated with work. It includes feelings of vitality, dedication, and focus, unlike the negative aspects of job burnout. Individuals with low levels of burnout may not necessarily have a high level of engagement in the workplace, and vice versa (Schaufeli and Salanova 2011
). Therefore, the two concepts should be considered independent. Subsequently, dedicated measurement tools were developed to assess work engagement, namely the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) and the Job Engagement Scale (JES) (Taris et al. 2017
). However, regardless of their antecedents and consequences, job burnout and work engagement share similarities and differences. In this regard, it is more meaningful to compare the antecedents and consequences of the two variables, both theoretically and practically.
Furthermore, extensive research encompasses the potential antecedents of burnout and work engagement (Schaufeli and Salanova 2014
). Antecedents of job burnout include job demands such as overload, time pressure, and long working hours, in addition to job-related factors such as insufficient social support from colleagues and supervisors, insufficient feedback, and limited participation in decision-making. Antecedents of work engagement include challenging demands such as workload, time urgency, psychological requirements, and responsibility. Researchers studying career plateaus pay more attention to their negative effects (Lapalme et al. 2009
). According to Allen et al.
), when employees perceive that their performance, contributions, and abilities are no longer appreciated or acknowledged by the organization, they may suffer from dysfunction and psychological distress. This can ultimately lead to inefficiency and ineffectiveness within the organization. For example, studies have found a relatively stable correlation between career plateaus and job burnout (Lemire et al. 1999
; Allen et al. 1998
). Career plateaus can impact work engagement through various factors (McCleese and Eby 2006
; Lentz and Allen 2009
; Wang et al. 2014
). Therefore, the career plateau may involve common factors that impact burnout and work engagement but have been overlooked by researchers. Therefore, this study examines career plateau as the dependent variable, explores its correlation with burnout and work engagement, and aims to fill this research gap by making comparisons.
Moreover, significant research has been conducted on the effects of burnout and work engagement (Schaufeli and Salanova 2014
). The consequences of job burnout involve employee health, including anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic disorders. Additionally, job burnout can lead to poor organizational commitment, increased employee turnover, higher sick leave rates, and decreased job performance. Turnover intention is an outcome variable in job burnout and work engagement that refers to the actual behavior of employees who may choose to stay or quit their job (Allen et al. 2005
). Job-related factors, personal and external factors can affect employee turnover (Cotton and Tuttle 1986
). Numerous studies have shown that turnover intention can result from job burnout and work engagement. Therefore, this study explores the relationship between career plateau and turnover intention, with a perspective on analyzing work engagement and job burnout as mediating factors. The study aims to investigate the mechanism of action between these variables and compare the relationship between job burnout and work engagement in the context of career plateau and turnover intention to fill this research gap.
In addition, changes in the organizational environment lead to corresponding adjustments in human resource management strategies. The effects of these adjustments can be seen in employees’ career plateaus and their attitudes toward the organization and subsequent output. The rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe (Dryhurst et al. 2020
) has made the disease a global health emergency with severe consequences for the worldwide economy (Naseer et al. 2022
). COVID-19 has significantly impacted Macau’s gambling and tourism industry, causing specified damage to gaming companies’ operations. Several casinos have had to close because of the epidemic, and the effects on the gaming and tourism industries may be long-term or permanent. To cope with the adverse impact of the epidemic, many resorts have adopted measures such as salary cuts, training, job rotation, and unpaid leave. This may change employees’ career plateaus and attitudes to work, and impact their cognition of job burnout and work engagement. Salary level or job bottlenecks, especially for career plateaus, can lead to a loss of motivation and a severe reduction in work performance, which are detrimental to the organization and its employees (Kwon 2022
). Therefore, human resource management intervention that adapts to environmental changes, such as training and job rotation, will impact employee burnout and work engagement and affects the relationship between career plateaus and turnover intentions. It is a novel theoretical and practical requirement for this research.
As mentioned above, this research compares the concepts and theoretical and practical differences between job burnout and work engagement. It also verifies the relationship between career plateau as an antecedent variable and turnover intention as an outcome variable with job burnout and work engagement. It analyzes the impact of training and job rotation following human resource management in response to the COVID-19 epidemic on career plateaus and organizational behaviors. This study can supplement and perfect employee career management theory and practice.
shows the results of the hierarchy of career plateau, work engagement, and job burnout on turnover intention. When seniority was added to the model, the research showed a relationship between work engagement and turnover intention (ΔR2 = 0.38, ΔF = 200.021), and between job burnout and turnover intention (ΔR2 = 0.04, ΔF = 12.851), indicating seniority had a control effect. The results demonstrate that there is no multicollinearity among the independent variables. Career plateau positively affected turnover intention (B = 0.203, p
< 0.001), career plateau negatively affected work engagement (B = −0.642, p
< 0.001), and work engagement negatively affected turnover intention (B = −0.642, p
< 0.001). Job burnout positively affected turnover intention (B = 0.213, p
< 0.001), and career plateau positively affected job burnout (b = 0.154, p
< 0.001), indicating H1, H2, H3, H5, and H6 were supported.
Furthermore, SPSS26.PROCESE2.16 software was used to analyze the mediating effect between job burnout, work engagement in the career plateau, and turnover intention. Bootstrapping was used to estimate total, direct, and indirect effects accordingly (see Table 5
). The range of the estimated total effect confidence interval, the standardized indirect effect confidence interval, and the standardized direct effect confidence interval did not include 0, which means that the total effect, indirect effect, and direct effect all exist significantly and are positive. Thus, H4 and H7 were supported.
Finally, SPSS 26. PROCESE 2.16 software was used to analyze the moderating effects of training and job rotation on career plateaus, work engagement, job burnout, and turnover intention (see Table 6
). Training negatively moderated career plateau toward job burnout (R = −0.076), and job rotation negatively moderated career plateau toward work engagement (R = −0.103). Therefore, we assumed that H8a and H9b were supported, but H8b and H9a were not supported. Figure 2
and Figure 3
show the moderating effect.
5. Discussion and Implications
This research investigates the current literature and presents a theoretical framework for job burnout, work engagement, career plateaus, and turnover intentions. It identifies the differences between job burnout and work engagement in their antecedents and consequences. This research investigates a sample data set of employees in Macau to support the proposed research hypothesis. According to the adjustment of human resources policy under the COVID-19 epidemic, the moderating effects of training and job rotation on career plateau and job burnout, work engagement, and turnover intention were verified. The detailed analysis and conclusions are as follows.
First, the results found that career plateaus affect turnover intentions. They show that individuals show high turnover intentions when at a career plateau. This is consistent with the conclusion of Tremblay et al.
), which found that turnover intentions were higher as the level of career plateau increased. Similar findings were reported in studies by Lemire et al.
) and Xie et al.
). This study shows a significant positive relationship between career plateau and turnover intention and that other influencing factors may affect turnover intention (Lentz and Allen 2009
; Wang et al. 2014
; Drucker-Godard et al. 2015
). This may be because employees at career plateaus have less space for promotion, lack lateral mobility, and lack experience in fulfillment and career development, so they have turnover intention. Therefore, resorts should consider taking available human resources measures like training and job rotation to avoid premature career plateaus for dealers and the resulting turnover.
Second, the results reported that career plateau positively impacts job burnout. Studies have shown that individuals exhibit higher levels of burnout when they feel they are at a career plateau, which is consistent with many previous studies (Edú-Valsania et al. 2022
; Beheshtifar 2017
; Fayyazi and Ziaei 2015
). Career plateau significantly impacts job burnout, and the higher the subjective career plateau, the more severe the job burnout. The results found that job burnout positively impacts turnover intention, meaning that job burnout affects employees’ participation in work, and their enthusiasm for work will also decrease, resulting in reduced job satisfaction and weakened personal commitment to the organization, leading to final turnover intention (Tremblay et al. 1995
; Xie and Long 2008
). Thus, job burnout can be an effective indicator to predict turnover intention. Therefore, resorts should consider taking valid human resources measures to reduce career plateaus’ impact on job burnout for dealers’ turnover.
Third, the results revealed that career plateaus negatively impact work engagement. This means employees offer low work engagement while staying at a career plateau. This is consistent with many previous research results (Saks and Gruman 2011
; Huaman-Ramirez and Lahlouh 2022
). Thus, a significant negative relationship between career plateaus and work engagement may affect work engagement through other influencing factors. This may be because employees at career plateaus have less space for promotion and cannot absorb updated knowledge and skills in their current work. They cannot improve themselves, and the organization does not give employees more rights, responsibilities, or organizational resources. The results found that work engagement negatively impacts turnover intention, meaning that high level turnover intention will decrease work engagement. which is consistent with many previous research results (Nachbagauer and Riedl 2002
; Lentz and Allen 2009
; McCleese and Eby 2006
; Wang et al. 2014
). Therefore, in such an organizational atmosphere, employees experience such a sense of lack of accomplishment and lack of career development that it is difficult to maintain their loyalty to the organization.
Fourth, the results reported that job burnout and work engagement partially mediate career plateau toward turnover intention. Studies have shown that when individuals are at a career plateau, the impact of employee burnout and work engagement on subsequent turnover intentions is consistent with many previous studies (Xie and Long 2008
), indicating that both can be used as predictors. Comparing the direct effects of the two, it shows that the impact of job burnout on turnover intention is 0.201 (0.051), significantly smaller than the impact of work engagement on turnover intention at 0.287 (0.072). Comparing the indirect effects for employees at career plateaus, the impact of job burnout on turnover is 0.176 (0.041), significantly higher than the effects of work engagement at 0.09 (0.04). Thus, job burnout is a better explanation than work engagement for the relationship between career plateaus and turnover intentions. Therefore, researchers can refer to this result when selecting measurement indicators in the models in future research.
Fifth, the study found that training moderates career plateaus and job burnout, and its impact coefficient on job burnout is negative, consistent with many previous studies (Nachbagauer and Riedl 2002
; Yang et al. 2019
). Under the influence of COVID-19, organizations can effectively reduce the impact of career plateaus on job burnout by organizing training as an organizational support activity (Rawashdeh and Tamimi 2020
; Tripathy 2020
), thereby reducing employees’ turnover intention. Additionally, job rotation moderates career plateaus toward work engagement. The impact coefficient on work engagement is also positive, indicating that appropriate job rotation can reduce the negative impact of career plateau and minimize turnover intention (Lin and Chen 2021
). Meanwhile, research shows that training has no significant moderating effect on work engagement, and job rotation has no significant moderating effect on job burnout. Therefore, under the influence of the COVID-19 epidemic, job changes can increase employee engagement, and training can reduce the perception of job burnout.
Finally, the results found that seniority has a significant control effect in this study. Seniority has a controlling impact on career plateau and job burnout and is negatively correlated with job burnout. Seniority has a control effect on career plateau and work engagement and is positively related to work engagement. It shows that senior employees in an organization have low burnout but high work engagement. This may be due to the impact of COVID-19 and the influence of the unique industry context of gambling. This is because the promotion and salary mechanisms of the gaming industry are highly related to seniority. In addition, due to the long-term accumulation of service technology and customer relationships in dealers’ work, employees with long experience can achieve positive results without more investment.
Theoretically, this study examines the differences in the literature and empirical impacts of job burnout and work engagement, their impact on turnover intentions, and their moderating effects between career plateaus and turnover intentions. Especially for service industry employees, it provides strong support for related theories of organizational behavior. In particular, this study finds that job burnout is a better explanation than work engagement for the relationship between career plateaus and turnover intentions. This provides strong evidence for the original theoretical argument in this paper.
In practice, the results of the sample data show that enhancing employees’ sense of belonging to the organization is significant for reducing the plateau period of careers under the circumstances of COVID-19, especially for the loss of confidence in job prospects, a lack of passion for work content and results, and a significant reduction in work efficiency (Stoyanova and Iliev 2017
; Scott and Leadership 2017
). When resorts arrange the development of employee careers, in the case of limited positions or promotion space, it is of practical significance to adopt appropriate human resource strategies to reduce their turnover intention.
The data show that most employees are 35–42 years old. When the job skills become more and more proficient, repetitive work content day after day makes employees feel drained, and the appreciation space is low. They are therefore more likely to reach the career plateau. Even though the employee’s work performance and ability are outstanding, they are not recognized due to a lack of breakthroughs. A dealer’s salary is higher than the local average in Macau. Although employees will not be dissatisfied with their jobs, a career plateau will positively impact their turnover intentions. Reducing this impact by increasing positive organizational support activities, such as training, may be an effective way for Macau resorts to cope with the external environment in the long run.
This paper has several research limitations. First, according to research samples, this paper selected dealers who are the most typical representative of the Macau resorts as the research objects. However, there are certain deficiencies in the number of samples and the sample commonality. Second, the gaming companies involved in this article include Chinese and foreign capital. There are noticeable differences in corporate culture and management methods. Therefore, it is more meaningful to compare the gaps between the two groups of companies in terms of career plateaus and organizational human resource policies. Third, the epidemic’s impact is diverse, including changes in employees’ working conditions and income, which may impact career plateau industries. Future models will analyze these factors with more theoretical and practical significance. Fourth, this paper only examines the impact of employees’ career plateaus and human resource policies on internal factors. Research may focus on how the corresponding changes in opportunities from outside the organization impact career plateaus in the future, especially the changes in external opportunities caused by environmental factors.