Burnout can creep up on even the strongest workers, undermining their productivity and mental health. Left untreated, burnout leads to disengaged employees that cost employers 34% of their annual salary. With 86% of employees expressing that they faced burnout in 2020, it is more important than ever to understand this problem, which typical wellness programs have not solved. Burnout comes in different forms, with preventable root causes, symptoms, and unique solutions. By understanding burnout at a deeper level, people leaders can create more dynamic policies to address it.
“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
Burnout is the opposite of being mello, which is when team members are engaged and motivated at work, with a healthy work-life balance. Burnout is the side effect of prolonged workplace stress that is left untreated. It affects the physical and mental health of employees, leading to unhealthy and often unproductive teams. It occurs when we don’t pay enough attention to employee wellbeing or offer the support they need for a sustainable, mello workflow.
Burnout is one of the biggest reasons why employees turnover or become disengaged from their work. We think the numbers speak for themselves, here are some quick stats on burnout:
The signs of burnout may not be obvious, and it often looks different depending on the employee. However, psychologists and professionals in behavioral science have seen trends in different types of burnout that can be summed up in three main categories.
This employee continues working frantically, jeopardizing their own wellbeing and prioritizing work demands even when they are overloaded or exhausted.
“The frenetic burnout type works increasingly harder, to the point of exhaustion, in search of success, and presents involvement, ambition and overload.” (source)
This employee is generally lacking learning t opportunities and feel unstimulated by their workplace environment. Because of this, they tend to build distance from work or are disengaged from their workplaces.
“absence of personal growth experiences for individuals together with their desire to take on other jobs where they can better develop their skills and is markedly associated with cynicism” (source)
This employee feels a lack of motivation that they previously had in the workplace and behaves in a passive way . This type of burnout is associated with “neglect” or being avoidant of difficulty due to exhaustion.
“‘neglect’ refers to individuals’ disregard as a response to any difficulty and is strongly associated with inefficacy” (source)
Just as burnout looks different depending on the employee, the reasons why people burnout can vary as well. Here are some of the most common reasons for burnout:
Read more about each of these causes and how to address them here.
It is important to keep an eye out for symptoms of burnout so it can be addressed proactively rather than reactively. Here are some of the most common symptoms of burnout that employees face:
There are 12 stages of burnout as developed by psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North. These are:
If people leaders can identify which of the stages of burnout employees fall under, they can better triage their response to burnout and be more successful in preventing it.
The most sustainable way of doing this is have more frequent wellbeing focused check-ins. That’s why we built mello, the new standard for assessing, addressing and actioning on employee burnout. mello is slack integrated and meets your employees where they are (learn more here and try mello for free).
At mello, we’ve identified 2 types of support employees might benefit from when facing burnout: internal and external. Internal support refers to the best practices businesses can adopt to ensure their teams are happy, healthy, and productive. External support refers to EAPs, wellbeing programs, suggestions of external resources that employees can access outside of work to help with their work-life engagement.
At mello, we are constantly conducting research and learning more about workplace wellbeing and burnout prevention. To learn more about how mello can help both leaders and employees identify and address burnout feel free to get in touch with one of our wellbeing specialists or try our slack integrated product free here.