Employee Burnout: The Who, What, When, Why, and How

Benefit Trends Executive Health October 23, 2019

Feel like on-the-job expectations are constantly growing, but struggling to stay motivated? You, along with an overwhelming majority of the American working population, may be experiencing symptoms of burnout. Employers are beginning to realize just how vast the implications for employee burnout are on their businesses. According to a study conducted by Gallup, “Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times more likely to be actively seeking a different job.”[1] In this article, we’ll discuss how improved benefits can be part of the solution to preventing and curing burnout.

What is employee burnout?

An article by Workest defines burnout as “an intense state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with a lack of confidence in your competency or value at work.”[2] Such burnout can present in many different ways in and out of the office. The Mayo Clinic outlines the following symptoms that can help identify employee burnout:[3],[4]

  • Lack of motivation or energy
  • Cynicism
  • Frustration
  • Impatience or irritability
  • Disillusionment
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Cognitive issues, such as trouble concentrating
  • Lack of satisfaction from achievements
  • Frequently missing work

In the long term, leaving burnout unaddressed can lead to tangible health issues such as high blood pressure, depression, substance misuse and heart disease.[5] Employers, managers and HR should implement strategies to fully prevent cases of burnout in the workplace altogether. It’s also vital to learn the signs of burnout and understand how to intervene in the most productive way.

Who is at risk of burnout?

While burnout can occur in any industry, it should come as no surprise that professions demanding elevated levels of responsibility, requiring long hours, and/or inducing excessive stress are at higher risk. Among the professionals that are at increased risk of burnout are:[6]

  • Physicians, nurses and other health professionals
  • Social workers and police officers
  • Teachers and school principals
  • Fast food and retail associates
  • Attorneys and public accountants

We’ve conducted research specific to the implications burnout can have on legal professionals. The demanding nature of the responsibilities placed on attorneys causes high stress levels, which can lead to serious health issues.

Why do employees experience burnout?

Now that you know what burnout is and who might be vulnerable to it, why does it happen? Burnout can be caused by any or all of the following factors:[7]

  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
  • Being overworked, underappreciated and/or unrewarded
  • Lacking control over the job and how it’s done
  • Feeling disconnected with employer’s values
  • Unfair treatment

Remember, your employees are human, too. Being sensitive to their issues at work and at home and cultivating an environment where they are comfortable discussing their issues will go a long way in burnout prevention.

When should the employer intervene?

It’s critical that cases of burnout don’t go unaddressed. However, intervention can be a delicate matter, as limiting the responsibilities allocated to stressed employees may bring them more worry, rather than reducing stress. Get to know your employees on an individual level and find ways to eliminate the overwhelming feeling of burnout, without causing the employee to question their job security.[8] Creating an open dialogue when signs of burnout are identified will be helpful in determining the support they need.

How can burnout be prevented?

There are many small steps employers can take to reduce or eliminate stress for their employees:[9]

  • Encourage the utilization of benefits, such as vacation time
  • Recognize and reward top performers
  • Identify individual goals and give frequent feedback
  • Monitor workloads and understand how employees react to new responsibilities
  • Allow and support creativity
  • Know the signs of burnout
  • Check in frequently with your team
  • Emphasize health and wellness initiatives
  • Foster a healthy work environment

Maybe the most influential of these is a focus on wellness initiatives. According to Wellright, “A well-rounded corporate wellness program that addresses all aspects of health can help create happy, healthy employees. In turn, those employees have a ripple effect on those around them, improving the company’s culture and working environment and fostering loyalty.”[10]

ArmadaCare’s supplemental solutions can be instrumental in creating these well-rounded wellness programs. Visit our website to learn more about how our products can bolster benefits for all employee types.

[1] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/237059/employee-burnout-part-main-causes.aspx

[2] https://www.zenefits.com/workest/how-to-avoid-employee-burnout-signals/

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642

[4] https://www.zenefits.com/workest/how-to-avoid-employee-burnout-signals/

[5] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642

[6] https://stress.lovetoknow.com/Which_Professionals_are_Prone_to_Burnout

[7] https://www.wellright.com/blog/how-management-and-wellness-programs-can-prevent-burnout

[8] https://www.wellright.com/blog/how-management-and-wellness-programs-can-prevent-burnout

[9] https://www.zenefits.com/workest/how-to-avoid-employee-burnout-signals/

[10] https://www.wellright.com/blog/how-management-and-wellness-programs-can-prevent-burnout

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