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employee suffering from work related burnout

Employee burnout is responsible for an estimated 125 billion to 190 billion dollars in healthcare costs each year in the U.S. Stress with a job is not new. Still, this particular brand of it does appear to be escalating. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared employee burnout an “occupational phenomenon” in the 11the version of the International Classification of Diseases. What causes employee burnout, and what can employers do to prevent it? 

What is Employee Burnout? 

The Mayo Clinic describes job burnout as a type of work-related stress — one that causes physical and emotional exhaustion. WHO states it is a syndrome that comes from chronic and unmanaged workplace stress. The world “burnout” defines it pretty well, too.

It means a previously dedicated employee starts to behave differently on the job. There may be a lack of concentration and poor productivity. Employee burnout usually occurs in people who are enthusiastic about a job. Over time, though, they become less involved. 

Employee Burnout Stats

A 2015 survey conducted by Deloitte offers some interesting stats about employee burnout. The company surveyed 1,000 full-time professionals and found:

  • Seventy-seven percent suffered burnout at some point in their career.
  • Eight-three percent state burnout negatively impacts their personal relationships.
  • Ninety-one percent claim unmanageable stress and frustration have a negative impact that can lead to burnout.
  • Seventy percent said companies don’t do enough to reduce the risk of employee burnout.

The study also found that employee burnout has a significant impact on millennials. Of those surveyed, 84 percent said they currently feel burnout in their job, and 42 percent stated they left a job because of that stress. 

[Read More: Setting Healthy Boundaries for Work Life Balance]

Common Causes of Employee Burnout

The causes of employee burnout vary from person to person. Some common issues might be a factor, though, such as:

  • Lack of control — The inability to influence decisions that impact an employee, such as schedule, workload, and projects, can factor into employee burnout.
  • Vague expectations — Employees need a clear understanding of their job requirements, who they report to, and their expectations. 
  • Negative work environment — Negativity might be from co-workers or management.
  • Extremes — Jobs that are monotonous or overly chaotic can lead to employee burnout.
  • Poor work-life balance — Work-life balance is critical. If work takes up so much time and energy that an employee can not lead a fulfilling life outside it, it may lead to burnout. 

Left unaddressed, these issues can lead to workplace stress, fatigue, depression, and even addiction. 

The Rise of Work From Home Burnout

The pandemic has increased the number of people working from home and incidents of employee burnout. Part of the problem comes from employees having to blur the lines between their work and home life. As a result, many are not getting the necessary time to recharge. 

A recent poll conducted by Monster found that 42 percent of remote workers are not planning to take vacation time. More than half state that since working at home, they have less time off, too. That combination is leading to a rise in burnout in remote employees. The survey found that 69 percent of the respondents had employee burnout even though they worked from home. 

[Read more: Supporting Your Employees' Mental Health Is More Important Than Ever]

Signs of Employee Burnout

No two people respond the same way from employee burnout, but some common symptoms include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Negative feelings about work
  • Reduced productivity
  • Lack of focus on work 
  • Increased call-outs
  • Overly sensitive
  • Isolation while at work

How to Prevent Employee Burnout

Employers can be proactive and take steps to lower the risk of employee burnout. It starts with having a good communication system. Employees who know their voice is heard on the job are less likely to be frustrated with work. 

Employers also need to set up their workers for success. In other words, don’t put obstacles up that impact their performance or diminish their voice. Create realistic goals for them and manage your expectations. 

Focus on providing positive feedback. Employees that hear good things about their work will feel more appreciated. Companies should also train their supervisors and managers to recognize and prevent employee burnout. 

Building a Company Culture That Combats Burnout

Too often, employee burnout indicates a problem with the company.  Endless meetings, emails, and required collaboration can create a culture that drives the cycle of burnout. Leaders need to reimagine how they deal with the workforce. They need to promote work-life balance and prioritize employee wellness. 

Employees should work in a pleasing environment and have a place to relax. They should also be encouraged to use vacation time and decompress at home. 

Employee burnout impacts the entire company. Taking steps that engage employees and encourage their wellbeing can make all the difference. Learn more in Grokker Innovation Labs’ 2021 Working Americans’ State of Stress report.




Caring For Remote Employees

Many organizations continue to work in remote and hybrid models as the pandemic winds down, but many employees, when given the option to return to work, would actually prefer to continue working remotely. Our new guide, Taking Care of Remote Employees: The Key To Business Success Beyond the Pandemic, gives you actionable steps to ensure that your employees feel supported no matter where they are working. 

Download your guide