March 3, 2024

The Rise of Workplace Burnout and How to Combat It

Burnout is increasing. Burnout is a problem that has become more prevalent in the workplace. It affects employee health and costs to organizations. There are long-term risks to health and because it is contagious, there can be a toxic environment in the workplace with low morale, scapegoating, and increased office politics.

Burnout costs the global economy an estimated PS255 billion per year. The World Health Organisation has predicted a global pandemic in a decade due to such costs.

Organizations are focusing on burnout in order to protect their profit. They blame employees for poor performance, instead of making the necessary adjustments that will safeguard against stress. The focus on the individual employee has led to a psychometric profile of those who may be at high risk for burnout due their psychological make-up.

This game of blame is not always helpful. This is not only bad for the employees involved, but it also risks a shortage of skills in certain professions like health and social services. It also contributes to burnout because, with limited resources and staff, more demands are put on fewer workers.

Causes

Burnout is linked to office politics and menial tasks that interfere with the work of others. It has also been associated with high demands on employees that can lead to exhaustion. The main causes of burnout are increased workloads and long working hours. However, some employees can cope better or adapt more easily than others.

The perception of stress can also be a factor. You are more likely to develop stress-related disorders if you believe you don’t have enough resources to deal with your workload or that it is too much for you to handle.

Individual differences and personality types also influence burnout. People with Type A personalities – those who are hardy, impatient, competitive, and driven – as well as people who enjoy a lot of control at work have higher levels of stress. These employees tend to be restless, hostile, and time-conscious. This makes them more likely to experience workplace stress.

Stressed. Baranq by shutterstock.com

However, it is important to avoid making generalizations about how people react to stress. Organizations may screen out candidates for jobs based on personality or blame employees rather than take responsibility for making changes to protect their employees from stress.

Many global organizations have developed intervention plans that put the responsibility on employees to manage their health and wellbeing through training programs, such as developing resilience and coping abilities. This is often done to give the appearance of blaming the employee, but it’s really an excuse for abdicating responsibility. Organizations are often stressful, and they may have a wellness program for employees that’s not really implemented.

Different dimensions

According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory – the most widely used burnout scale – there are three dimensions of burnout: exhaustion, cynicism, and a feeling of personal achievement. Exhaustion is the one that stands out the most. Burnout symptoms can be different for each employee and appear in a variety of industries.

Burnout can cause a variety of mental and physical problems that may persist long after the stressful event has passed. Burnout can cause fatigue, irritability, and depression. It may also lead to withdrawal symptoms, physical and mental health issues, and self-medication. Employees and organizations must, therefore, manage this issue carefully.

All employees are different. It is, therefore, imperative that organizations and managers do not prescribe an all-encompassing model for managing employee wellbeing. They should instead work individually with each employee and find flexible interventions while providing an agile and adaptable working environment.

Different employees come in all shapes and sizes. Shutterstock.com – trexdruid

In many workplaces, teamwork and collaboration are encouraged to foster creativity. The constant collaboration model is not good for those whose creativity and energy are depleted. Many people, particularly those who are more introverted, feel tired and have difficulty getting their work done.

Organizations can, therefore, provide an environment where these personalities can work alone and increase their productivity. This will also allow them to unleash their creativity. Organizations can also work with their employees to create flexible working conditions that will help them achieve a sustainable work culture and a work-life balance. This will reduce the risk of burnout.

Individuals also have a part to play. People must manage their expectations and reflect on their values. It is especially important if your role does not align with your values or disposition. Reflecting on your values is important because living a life that’s not authentic can lead to burnout if you have conflicting personal values.

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