Workplace burnout has been under the spotlight ever since the pandemic, and people report it to be more serious that ever.
Illustration: The Lamen
Workplace burnout is real and it has been on the rise, with about 42 percent of the global workforce experiencing it — an all-time high since May 2021, according to a Future Forum report.
Explainer: In an acknowledgment, the World Health Organization states that burnout is not a medical condition, but a syndrome resulting from poorly managed chronic workplace stress.
Burnout syndrome is characterized by feelings of energy depletion, increased negativism or cynicism, or reduced efficiency at work.
Even if the emotional exhaustion and cynicism incline you toward quitting your job or taking a break, most people have other variables to consider. Financial and relationship status are the common determinants. It’s the ambiguity of this concept that makes management complicated, even for experts.
We live in the age of “quiet quitting.” The vast majority have subconsciously linked their career to their identity — even in a job not of their liking. While experts describe this as a marker of the degree of education and social standing, such association comes at the expense of a worker’s health.
The five factors found to be highly correlated with burnout according to a survey of 7,500 full-time employees from Gallup were:
Are organization leaders the ones to be blamed, then? While improper management is at play, managers and leaders are given the position for one key reason: creating a productive workforce that works with greater efficiency.
The accumulating data is clear about one thing: workplace wellness is often in the hands of the employer, and managing the employees lies in the hands of a competent leader.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 83 percent of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress — the most prominent causes being workload (39 percent of workers), interpersonal issues (31 percent), juggling work and personal life (19 percent), and job security (6 percent).
Beyond the economic impact, job burnout is also been linked with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, respiratory problems, as well as severe injuries and mortality before reaching age 45.
The symptoms of burnout are wide-ranging, and can often be misunderstood for a fleeting disease.
Photo: World Mosquito Program
Experts suggest that this is caused due to poor health behaviors, including increased alcohol consumption, sleep disorders, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity.
Burnout exceeds the parameters of a simple inconvenience — affecting both the organization and the individual at various levels in both their career and personal life. But the thing is, burnout is not inevitable, and even reversible in most situations.
Relentless working may push you into a state of burnout. Contrary to popular belief, however, most evidence suggests that beating burnout begins at the managerial level.
Harvard Business Review highlights how a leader should question the factors leading to a toxic or debilitating work environment — asking questions like “What is making my staff so unhealthy” and “Why does our work environment lack the conditions for them to flourish?”
Hard data highlights the following guidelines for organizations to prevent and combat burnout:
Burnout is preventable, manageable, and reversible, but requires better data and smarter well-being strategies by organizations.