Job Burnout Reaching an Unprecedented Level and Half of US Physicians Experiencing Professional Burnout

Job Burnout Reaching Unprecedented Level
Job Burnout Reaching – Unprecedented Level

According to a recent Fast Company article, job burnout, in general, is reaching an unprecedented level, and as per a January 2017  Mayo Clinic Proceedings report “50% of US physicians are experiencing professional burnout”.

According to the World Health Organization, occupational burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic work-related stress, with symptoms characterized by “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy”.

It has been suggested that the first printed use of the term in English was in one of Shakespeare’s sonnets in 1599, referring to a woman’s love burning out. The sonnet in question is one of Shakespeare’s most famous.

In 1961, Graham Greene published the novel A Burnt-Out Case, the story of an architect who became greatly fatigued by his work, and who took much time to recover. In 1969, HB Bradley used the term “burnout” in a criminology paper to describe the fatigued staff at a centre for treating young adult offenders. This has been cited as the first known academic work to use the term for this concept.

Burnout syndrome is mostly a work-related condition and the subject’s response to chronic work-related stress. According to the classical definition, this syndrome includes exhaustion, cynicism and professional inefficacy. The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as a special type of job stress, and a “state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work”.

According to Psychology Today and Paula Davis-Laack there are 6 major reasons of job burnout: lack of control; values conflict; insufficient reward; work overload; unfairness and breakdown of community. According to Mayo Clinic this includes: lack of control; unclear job expectations; dysfunctional workplace dynamics; mismatch in values; poor job fit; extremes of activity; lack of social support and work-life imbalance.

Interestingly, different individuals’ coping styles associate with different subtypes of burnout. Thus, ‘overload’ burnout, i.e., employees who work toward success until exhaustion, is mainly related to emotional venting; the ‘lack of personal development’ burnout associates with an avoidance coping strategy; and the ‘worn-out’ or ‘neglect’ burnout subtype refers to employees who struggle with stress but ultimately choose to neglect their work because of pressures.

As per the Fast Company article Charlie DeWitt at Kronos, a workforce management software company believes that “employee burnout has reached epidemic proportions”. In this article Lydia Dishman writes that a recent survey by Kronos and Future Workplace identifies that “46% of respondents blame burnout for up to half of their staff quitting each year”.

This survey also indicates that unfair compensation (41%), unreasonable workload (32%) and too much overtime or after-hours work (32%) are the major reasons for job burnout. Interestingly, larger organizations appear to have the highest proportion of exhausted employees, and burnout seems to be the major factor that drives the lack of engagement.

As per another Fast Company report a survey of nearly 9,000 registered nurses, found more than one-third whom said they wanted to quit their jobs.

Lydia Dishman also discusses that too much work and too little pay are not the only burnout contributing factors. Other issues and problems include poor management, employees seeing no clear connection of their role to corporate strategy, and a negative workplace culture.

Another factor might be the ‘Busy’ Trap – people feeling anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. As we have previously addressed being ‘crazy busy’ not only contributes to burnout but also prevents creativity.

According to Geil Browning, PhD, Founder and CEO, Emergenetics International “Working incessantly is counterproductive.

Our brains can handle only so much. Although corporate America has not gotten the message, there is mountains of evidence that working longer hours does not produce better work”.

Read more: Fast Company
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