What Is Burnout?
Burnout results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- Exhaustion: Physically, emotionally, and cognitively, described as feeling like the tank is empty.
- Negative and Cynical: Feeling negative and cynical toward work, co-workers, and others in one’s life.
- Ineffective at Work: Reduced effectiveness or ability to perform one’s work.
Impacts of Burnout
- All aspects of people’s lives at work, home, and socially.
- Workplace productivity, performance, retention, and more.
- Health and well-being because of excessive levels of stress.
- Risk of developing mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance use.
How Common Is Burnout?
- 77% of professionals reported experiencing burnout at work. (2018 Deloitte Survey).
- 76% of employees reported experiencing burnout on the job at least sometimes. (2020 Gallup survey).
- 88% of workers experience some burnout, with 60% reporting high levels of burnout. (2021 Catalyst survey).
What Can Organizations Do to Tackle Burnout?
Small changes can lead to big results in reducing and preventing burnout by addressing six key workplace factors (Maslach, 2016). Here are those factors and tips for addressing them:
- Workload: Ensuring people have the time and tools needed to get the job done.
Tip: Remind people managers to check-in on workload, and openly communicate about expectations and deadlines.
- Autonomy and Control: Offering people the chance to have some control over how they perform their work.
Tip: Explore ways to give team members more autonomy & control over tasks while still meeting deadlines.
- Reward and Recognition: Ensuring people are recognized and rewarded for a job well done.
Tip: Remind everyone of the need to recognize and reward wins and achievements, both big and small.
- Community and Sense of Belonging: Creating opportunities for people to feel like there is trust & mutual support with colleagues.
Tip: Find ways for people to connect with peers, supervisors, and across teams, through ERGs, mentorship programs, and in virtual settings.
- Fairness: Offering opportunities for people to be promoted and feel like they are treated fairly at work.
Tip: Review opportunities for advancement to ensure alignment exists between performance and promotion.
- Values and Purpose in Work: Supporting people in feeling good about their work and proud of their contributions.
Tip: Find ways to relate the meaning of work tasks to organizational purpose and mission and communicate employee contributions to both.
Employers can also help reduce and prevent burnout by:
- Supporting People Managers: Remind managers about leading with empathy, scheduling regular check-ins, and encouraging open dialogue with their teams around the factors that contribute to burnout.
- Offering Training: Offer an interactive training with people leaders that informs them about the six (6) factors and how to effectively address them to reduce or eliminate burnout on their teams.
- Surveying Employees: Develop a simple survey to assess and prioritize the factors that may be impacting burnout in the workplace. Better understanding how burnout is impacting your organization is key in tackling it.
- Developing an Action Plan: Work with a small group of thoughtful employees to create an action plan that addresses the issues uncovered in the employee survey. Be sure to address organizational culture, as it impacts performance, productivity, retention, and more.
What Can Employees Do to Reduce and Prevent Burnout?
Employees can also take steps to reduce burnout and enhance their mental health and well-being by:
- Connecting with support through an EAP, or by talking with a mental health or primary care professional.
- Taking time off and addressing sleep issues.
- Focusing on self-care by scheduling time for exercise, social connections, and joyful activity.
- Making changes that reduce or eliminate factors contributing to excessive levels of stress.
The Center provides training, consultation, and support for organizations working to prevent and reduce burnout.
To learn more contact us at [email protected].
The American Psychiatric Association Foundation is grateful to Johnson & Johnson for providing support to the Center for Workplace Mental Health to develop this infographic.
- World Health Organization: defining the three elements of occupational burnout: https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases
- Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2016). Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 15(2), 103–111. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20311.
- Gallup Survey: Accessed at: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/282659/employee-burnout-perspective-paper.aspx
- Catalyst Survey: Van Bommel, T. (2021). Remote-work options can boost productivity and curb burnout. Catalyst. Accessed at: https://www. catalyst.org/reports/remote-work-burnout-productivity/
- Deloitte Survey: Accessed at: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/burnout-survey.html