What is Work Burnout?
Work burnout is made up of feelings of exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy. Burnout is the extended period of stress felt from having a lack of control, unclear job expectations, a dysfunctional workplace, and no work-life balance. Symptoms of burnout can occur in those who are heavily invested in their work while not having the right balance of workload. It is also caused by a supervisor’s leadership qualities and their negative personality traits.
- 1. What is burnout?
- 2. Negative consequences of job burnout
- 3. Strategies to reduce burnout risk factors of stress
- 4. Mental health at the employee level
- 5. Questions to ask about work and sense of self
- 6. Employer responsibility for preventing burnout and exhaustion
- 7. Symptoms of chronic stress
- 8. Workplace spirituality
- 9. Workplace onboarding
- 10. 8 Pillars of resilience
- 11. 8 pillars focus on character strengths
- 12. Conclusions for better employee health
Negative consequences of job burnout
According to the Mayo Clinic, ” Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” Leaders and supervisors who are confrontational or do not recognize their employee’s talents can also cause job burnout. There are several negative consequences of stress and burnout, which can occur at any time, affecting the mental health of employees at work.
Strategies to Reduce Risk Factors of Stress
When an organization wants to decrease employee burnout and create a workplace where employees feel fulfilled from their jobs, they need to concentrate on two levels: 1. the employee level; and 2. the leadership level. These two levels help the organization survive and thrive.
Mental health at the employee level
At the employee level, the focus is on employees living their values, putting their strengths into practice, and having coping strategies for stress to avoid burnout. There needs to be value congruence between employees and the organization, and the ability to work toward a goal that means something to the employee. Signs of burnout occur when there is a gap in what an employee values and what their employer values. If the employee is living their values and understands what is important to them and why, they will align their values and strengths with their beliefs.
As people are growing up, there were family, friends, and others in their personal life who helped defined the way they looked at the world. Their experiences were the foundation of who they are now and reflects their sense of self, which helps them understand who they are in relation to their employer. Employees can ask themselves questions about their values which stem from their sense of self.
Sense of self and values go hand in hand. Sense of self refers to the characteristics that define an employee. It is the way they think about their job and their work as it relates to their world and their views about their place in the company. Sense of self is about their character strengths and weaknesses as well as their beliefs about their work as it relates to the overall goal of the company they work for.
Questions to ask about work and sense of self
When I am exploring a team member’s sense of self, I always ask these five questions:
- How do you live your values?
- Where do you live your values?
- When are you going to live your values?
- Who helps you to live your values?
- Do you live your values at work?
When an employee knows and lives their values, they usually have positive coping strategies, which increases their level of engagement. When workplace cultures advocate for employees’ natural strengths and talents, both the employee and the company will survive and thrive.
Employer Responsibility for Preventing Burnout and Exhaustion
There must be corporate social responsibility when discussing burnout prevention and treatment. At the leader and/or organizational level, the focus is on a trusted leader, job turnover, workplace spirituality, and onboarding. If employees do not trust their leader, they probably will not be engaged with them, and the bond that makes work meaningful will be broken.
Engagement is key to putting energy into one’s job. Positive supervisor behaviors lessen the effects of stress or job burnout. Therefore, a trusted leader is a key organizational factor as their influence leads to employee overall health and wellbeing. Behaviors of leaders and/or supervisors must be associated with support, empowerment, and integrity.
Therefore, the focus must be on improving supervisor behavioral competencies. Leaders must create a healthy atmosphere where employees feel engaged and encouraged. That work culture builds employee resilience and acknowledges their spiritual needs.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress
Organizational culture needs to focus on the symptoms of chronic stress that leads to exhaustion, burnout and turnover. To create a positive organization that reduces burnout symptoms in its employees, interventions need to be planned with senior management, managers, and employees.
- concentrate on work demands and tasks that are causing the employee to feel exhausted or have low energy levels
- create strategies to monitor and improve wellbeing and supervisor leadership
- focus on what is causing the employee to feel cynical and create strategies to monitor motivation, positivity, and playfulness
- spotlight resources and recovery while creating strategies to monitor and improve wellbeing that motivates employees and gives them time to refresh from their job.
To decrease negative workplace outcomes that contribute to stress and burnout symptoms, organizations can focus on workplace spirituality, which is the positive energy and connection employees feel toward their job. When there is workplace spiritualty, employees experience improved health conditions, wellbeing, and job performance.
Workplace spirituality begins with the leaders and supervisors who recognize their employees’ spiritual needs. This has nothing to do with religion. Supervisors can maintain organizational integrity and demonstrate regard for employees’ work. Management competencies must be addressed in relation to workplace spirituality, which includes the organizational foundation that mirrors an employee’s values, the integrity of their leader, a positive workplace culture, a sense of gratitude, job satisfaction, ongoing learning opportunities, improved mental health and personal growth, and finding meaning in one’s job.
When we talk about workplace spirituality, we are looking through the lens of emotions around work and feeling as though one’s job is connected to something bigger than them. There is purpose in the work they do and the connection to their job outcome. This can start from the very first day working on the job.
When a new employee is oriented to the workplace and trained to do their job, they are onboarded, which is a preventive measure against job burnout. The goal of onboarding is more than a new employee learning about their job description and having the skills to perform their job well. A structured onboarding experience is about the company’s mission, values, and culture, and its people.
Before hiring the right employee, they must fit in and share the same values as the organizational culture. With a high level of transparency, onboarding is where information is shared (e.g., company website, job description, policies, remote working, etc.). The new employee is usually given a task. They are also given a relaxed office tour to see if they are compatible with the work environment. The employee is then sent a welcoming letter.
On day one, the employer makes them feel welcomed, schedules a morning meeting, where they are given a welcome kit, which can include videos and history of the organization. A team lunch is scheduled for informal small talk. At the end of the day, there is usually a debrief of the day’s events. If onboarding is done right, it is a valuable tool to prevent burnout and exhaustion.
8 Pillars of Work Resilience
As a speaker and author, I have shared the 8-pillar framework with corporations and businesses across the country. Companies, managers, and human resources departments consider the 8-pillar framework to manage signs and symptoms of corporate burnout is a job culture tool that helps employees recognize their strengths, and how to put them into practice in the workplace.
The 8 Pillars of resilience presents a tool that is implemented at a company level to detect burnout warning signs, when employees have reached too heavy work investment, or when the values of employee and company do not match. This includes physical symptoms such as weight gain or poor sleep habits. When organizations focus on the eight pillars to yield their best return on investment, it is a win-win for everyone.
8 pillars focus on character strengths
- Flexibility to deal with unexpected challenges
- Attitude to keep a positive focus
- Boundaries to maintain work-life balance
- Understanding job satisfaction to gain fulfillment
- Laughter to maintain a sense of humor
- Optimism to remain confident and hopeful despite job demands
- United with a sense of connection
- Self-compassion when there is failure
The 8-Pillar framework is a useful tool in organizations struggling with high turnover and burnout to build personal resilience and improve organizational well-being and employee fulfillment.
Conclusions for better employee health
This article focused on the 8 Pillar Framework to Manage Corporate Burnout and identified employee and leadership strategies to reduce causes of burnout and create a workplace where employees feel calmer and fulfilled from their jobs, through the lens of good project management, values, turnover, workplace spirituality, and onboarding.