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The Leading Causes of Employee Burnout

Tommy Shek

Employee burnout (or job burnout) is a unique kind of work-related stress, characterized not just by emotional and physical exhaustion, but also feelings of inadequateness and reduced accomplishments. Sometimes, employee burnout is also accompanied by a diminishing sense of personal identity.

This kind of burnout is particularly prevalent in the developed world: according to a survey, approximately 50 percent of employees feel dissatisfied or overwhelmed with their jobs. Employee burnout not just affects the suffering workers themselves, but also has major repercussions for the organization as a whole, as it can lead to lower productivity, poorer customer experience, loss of revenue, and high employee turnover rates.

For this reason, Tommy Shek covers the most common causes of employee burnout; by understanding the reasons that employees burn out, you will be able to proactively remedy some of them.

The Leading Causes of Employee Burnout:

Cause 1 – Inadequate Control:

According to Tommy Shek, a major reason that employees feel stressed or overwhelmed about their job is the lack of control that they have. For instance, not being able to influence your working schedules, tasks, or workload can lead to burnout. In the same breath, not being provided with the tools and assistance that you need to do your job can also cause employees to burn out.

Cause 2 – Lack of Work Engagement:

Employees can feel disengaged or distanced from their work due to various reasons. Perhaps it has to do with the toxicity of the overall work environment, or the work that they do or the organization that they work for might not be aligned with their values or ethics. Maybe the compensation is up-to-the-mark, or perhaps a lack of appreciation and recognition is the culprit. Regardless of the cause(s), Tommy Shek cautions that it does not take long for low engagement to translate into full-blown employee burnout. 

Cause 3 – Long Working Hours:

Even though long hours do not always mean higher productivity – if anything, beyond a certain point, the opposite is true. In spite of that, many organizations want their employees to put in (and keep putting in) additional time. While hourly workers may still get some benefit out of this overexertion, employees on fixed salaries do not have any incentives to come in earlier than they have to and stay in later than required.

Excessively long-hours go hand-in-hand with high stress and exhaustion, as employees do not get the downtime they need to recharge their batteries. Even though certain sectors, such as healthcare or law, often require long working hours, companies can try to come up with workarounds like telecommuting, work-from-home options, or offering alternatives to the conventional 9-to-5 working hours.

Final Word:

In the short-term, employee burnout can cause one to become cynical, aggressive, or irritable; create sleeping troubles or unexplained physical symptoms; and lead to a lot of energy. In the long-term, the consequences are more severe, leading to substance abuse or chronic illnesses like high-blood pressure or type-two diabetes.

Tommy Shek urges employers to make sure that their employees are happy, satisfied, and motivated – and, if not, do their best to identify and address the causes behind it.