Burnout in the workplace

Burnout in the workplace or “job burnout” is a very specific type of work-related stress. It’s a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that is also accompanied by reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. 

Burnout is now categorised as a “syndrome” that results from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” according to the World Health Organization’s International Disease Classification (ICD-11)—the official compendium of diseases.

Are you at risk of burnout in the workplace?

Do you feel that…

    • Every day is a bad day.
    • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
    • You’re exhausted all the time.
    • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
    • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

Job burnout can result from various factors, including:

1. Lack of control.

An inability to influence decisions that affect your job — such as your schedule, assignments or workload — has been known to lead to burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.

2. Unclear job expectations.

Ambiguity is a one of the silent causes of stress and if perpetuated, leads to burnout.

If you’re unclear about the degree of authority you have or what is expected of you in your role, then chances are you will not feel secure at work. Your senses are perpetually heightened in a state of chronic stress that, over time, leads to burnout.

3. Dysfunctional workplace dynamics.

If you feel undermined, bullied or micromanaged it’s no wonder the workplace becomes unpleasant and potentially toxic. Stress bubbles away under the surface which is the perfect environment that festers burnout.

4. Extremes of activity.

When a job is either monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused. Whilst this might be manageable over a short period of time, continuous levels of extremes of activity is not sustainable and can lead to burnout in the workplace.

5. Lack of support.

If you feel unsupported at work or in your personal life you will feel more stressed. For example if your work takes up most of your time and effort such that you don’t have time to spend with your family and friends; however there’s lack of understanding from them, you will feel pressure from both fronts which leads to burnout very quickly.

Burnout in the workplace - Not simply stress

Stress is NOT the same as Burnout

Burnout may be the result of prolonged periods of intense stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress.

Whilst stress may demand too much of you for a period of time – once it’s under control or the intense period of activity is over, you will usually feel better.

Burnout, on the other hand, is about not having enough.

So you feel:

    • Empty
    • Mentally exhausted
    • Unmotivated
    • Beyond caring

People caught in the grips of burnout are usually unable to see any positive change in their situations. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that the signs of burnout are caught early so that you can begin to remedy the situation.

Excessive stress can feel like you’re drowning under the weight of additional responsibilities.

Burnout, on the other hand, is a feeling of being spent. Like there’s nothing left – a sense of being depleted.

Workplace burnout - depleted

And while you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you may not always notice burnout when it happens!

Take the burnout quiz to see where you are at before the spiral of burnout catches hold.

Here’s what you can do to ensure you’re keeping burnout at bay.