Burnout is a term coined by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s. According to Freudenberger, burnout is a condition which describes the mental state of the employees working under stressful conditions.

What is Occupational Burnout?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is classified as occupational phenomenon which is defined as a type of psychological stress which is typically associated with exhaustion and loss of enthusiasm and motivation at work. People suffering with burnout often go through the feelings of frustration and cynicism. Such feelings have a direct negative impact on the work productivity. Occupational burnout affects both the employees and the employers. This blog highlights various aspects of occupational burnout and highlights the reasons for the organizations to take this issue seriously.

Cortisol Stress Management Burnout
Burnout is associated with exhaustion and loss of enthusiasm and motivation at work

Implications of Occupational Burnout

Factors such as job insecurity and unreasonable targets can force the employees to leave the organization. The accepted global definition of a full-time job is around 40 hours of work per week. However, according to Gallup, a typical American workweek can be on an average around 47 hours and in some cases around 18 percent Americans, it can be as high as 60 hours a week.

According to the Gallup survey involving more that 150,000 people in 2018, Americans were found to be the most stressed. To put this into perspective, the global average of the people who experience stress during much of their day was thirty-five percent, while fifty-five percent of Americans feel stressed out during the daytime. Another significant issue revealed by this survey, was the amount of vacation days taken by an average American. The average vacation time for an average American was found to be much lower than the any other country in the world.

Well-Being of the Employees

According to one Gallup’s survey, employees who experience frequent burnouts at work are 63% more likely to take sick leaves and are 2.6 times likely to look for a new job. Also, the employees who experience burnout are 23% more likely to visit the emergency room and are 13% less confident in their performance. According to a study conducted by Montero-Marin et al, there are at least three types of burnouts, freneticunderchallenged and worn-out. Each of these burnouts are triggered by various stressors. The most common type of burnout is frenetic burnout, most seen among employees with overwhelming workload. Employees suffering with frenetic burnout often complain about their workload. The second type of burnout, under-challenged, is caused when the employees are presented with tasks which are not challenging enough resulting in lack of job satisfaction. Consequently, the under-challenged employees tend to avoid the tasks and thereby negatively effecting the team’s performance. The third type of burnout, worn-out, is caused when the employees are given difficult, and monotonous tasks daily for a prolonged period. This results in the situation where the employee feeling the pressure starts neglecting the work.

Burnout causes the employees to lose interest in work

The burnout rate often depends on the profession. According to a 2018 survey, in the US, the physicians are twice as likely to have occupational burnout as compared to the workers from other professions and 77.8% of the physicians go through the feelings of occupational burnout.

Absenteeism and other consequences as a result of occupational burnout costs organizations enormously. Occupational burnout poses a serious challenge in employee retention. In the US, nearly 46% teachers experience feelings of job-related burnout resulting in 42% of the teachers leaving the workforce with 5 years.

Financial Impact of Occupational Burnout

A majority of the employees are not engaged and feel the work as burden which directly effects the productivity and thereby can have a severe economic impact. According to Gallup, the occupational burnout costs the US $450 to $500 billion annually. 

Occupational burnout is often seen among the professionals associated who constantly work in a highly stressful environment. For the HR departments, issues related to stress and absenteeism are becoming major concerns. In 2013 alone, the work-related depression costed the EU approximately €617 billion. This highlights the pressing need to tackle the issues related to work-related stress and burnout. Occupational burnout or job burnout is a stressful situation which show symptoms of both mental and physical fatigue, detachment from work and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment at work. A prolonged stressful situation can have serious consequences on the physical and mental health.

To replace a well-trained physician who quits because of occupational burnout, it costs anywhere between $500K-$1M. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 61% of the employees suffer from workplace stress in the USA and this costs the American healthcare $190 billion annually. The World Economic Forum estimates the global financial impact of burnout to be around $322 billion. Unfortunately, the employee burnout crisis is only getting worse. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there will be a shortage of nearly 90,000 physicians by the year 2025. Occupational burnout is to be primarily blamed for this. 

How to Avoid Occupational Burnout?

Although, there isn’t a defined method for avoiding occupational burnout, there are ways which help in avoiding it. To find a right method to address the occupational burnout issue, both the employee and employer must work together to find out the source of stress and formulate the strategy for tackling the issue. 

As an employee, do not accept more tasks than you handle. If felt overwhelmed with the work, communicate with the employer about the increased workload. Try not to overthink and over-analyze the situation. Take regular breaks at work.

Yoga can help in fighting anxiety

Cultivate the good habit of working out or playing sports. Sports offer very effective solution for reducing anxiety. This will have a positive effect on your productivity. Get enough rest and maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

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