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Workplace Burnout

Workplace Burnout: Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions


Workplace, how do you feel about this word? Do you feel pleasure or burdened listening to this? Does your workplace make you feel anxious and stressed? If your workplace gives you trauma, you might find yourself dragging your feet. Ultimately, the driving force will start to drop and you will not work enthusiastically. The lack of motivation will reduce the work productivity and efficiency to deliver.

Under these circumstances, you will not only feel procrastinated but will also face workplace burnout. This is a prevalent problem in today’s world but we have got you a cover. This article will give a detailed account of workplace burnout definition, workplace burnout statistics, workplace burnout symptoms, workplace burnout causes, how to prevent workplace burnout, and workplace burnout treatment.

Key Takeaways

  • Workplace burnout is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced effectiveness.
  • It is exacerbated by factors like workload, lack of autonomy, social environment, fairness, personal values, and inadequate rewards.
  • Symptoms of workplace burnout include chronic fatigue, irritability, decreased productivity, and physical ailments like headaches or stomach issues.
  • Risk factors include excessive workload, lack of control, insufficient rewards, poor organizational culture, and personal traits like perfectionism.
  • Workplace burnout can lead to strained relationships, decreased job satisfaction, increased absenteeism, and even chronic health problems.
  • Recognizing early signs and addressing burnout promptly can prevent long-term negative consequences for individuals and organizations alike.
  • Prevention strategies include setting clear boundaries, promoting work-life balance, fostering supportive relationships, and seeking professional help if needed.

Workplace Burnout Definition

Everyone is running fast in the race of life to stay on top but this competitive mindset has disturbed the work-life balance. This glamorization of overworking and grinding is a product of hustle culture which attracts everyone to exhaust themselves. At workplaces, individuals are tempted to achieve success and have high hopes of receiving recognition. But during the journey, most fall prey to workplace burnout which can become severe impacting the mind and body of an individual if left unchecked.

But what is workplace burnout? This term is not that old and was coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974. According to him, it means “stressed out” a little more than just a feeling. Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement gives workplace burnout definition as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” We can find out the consequences of workplace burnout from this workplace burnout definition by Freudenberger.

According to Mayo Clinic, Workplace burnout refers to the stress caused by work which drains an individual not only physically but also psychologically. It also says that workplace burnout does not hold any medical diagnosis but is characterized by feelings including feebleness and hopelessness. Likewise, the World Health Organization did not categorize it as a medical condition but labeled it as an “occupational phenomenon”. International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) further elaborates it as “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Workplace burnout is defined by three key aspects including experiencing energy depletion or exhaustion, developing a growing mental detachment from one’s job or harboring negative or cynical attitudes towards it, and lastly, suffering from a diminished sense of professional effectiveness. Till now, what is workplace burnout has been answered, so you must have discovered if you or your colleagues are going through such a situation or not. You can continue reading to know more about it as everyone is susceptible to it but can prevent it with awareness.

Workplace Burnout Statistics

The workplace burnout statistics taken from a survey conducted during the pandemic in 2020 found that 41 percent of workers feel a sense of workplace burnout while only 23 percent experienced these burnout feelings a few months back. So, WHO declared it to be “a state of vital exhaustion”. It is not limited to the pandemic only as another survey conducted by Deloitte in 2015 found 77 percent of workers face workplace burnout. The survey showed that 91 percent of the workers bear the negative consequences of unmanageable amounts of stress at the workplace. Ultimately, resulting in 120,000 deaths per year.

Workplace Burnout Symptoms

Here we will answer the next considerable question how to spot workplace burnout. It is a tricky and gradual phenomenon that is reflected in the form of other mental and physical problems. Here are some of the early symptoms and signs to identify workplace burnout:

  1. The feelings of irritability can prevail and an individual can feel short-tempered and frustrated.
  2. The employee can face a lack of focus on work tasks and concentration might become difficult with a problem of forgetting most of the things.
  3. The feelings of exhaustion even after a break can indicate workplace burnout.
  4. Along with exhaustion, other physical symptoms can include stomach issues, headaches, etc.
  5. The individual may isolate himself eluding social happenings and detaching from colleagues.
  6. The above-mentioned reasons might also result in an increase in absenteeism.
  7. The individual might become cynical and he will only have pessimistic thoughts about the workplace.
  8. The employee might consistently have an escapist mentality where he feels like quitting his job and shifting his career.
  9. The possibility of making more mistakes might increase with the lack of attention.
  10. Workplace burnout symptoms also include the feelings of being incapable of performing some task due to past trauma of a lack of recognition after successfully completing a similar project.

Workplace Burnout Risk Factors

There are many workplace burnout risk factors while six are characterized by Dr. Christina Maslach. These include:

  1. Workload
  2. Autonomy
  3. Compensation
  4. Social environment
  5. Equity
  6. Principles

Some other workplace burnout risk factors also include lifestyle choices where the number of jobs and number of dependents cont. Another factor is personality traits where Type-A personalities mostly face burnout because of hyper-competitiveness and reluctance to ask for help.

Workplace Burnout Causes

The first factor that comes to mind after reading about workplace burnout causes is work overload demanding overtime. This is a basic cause but not the only cause as Elizabeth Scott defined it, “Burnout can come from a sense of overwhelming stress, but it tends to come most from specific types of stress and factors in a job.” It can be a result of unclear job descriptions, fluid or vague expectations from employees, and ever-changing demands of the employer.

Workplace productivity is often related to surety about one’s deadlines, responsibilities, and role. These requirements can be sometimes impossible to accomplish due to time or capability constraints. This leads to a sense of inadequacy when workers feel losers with unaccomplished goals and a lack of appreciation. In the presence of scarce bonuses, public praise, and awards the morale of workers continuously declines increasing workplace burnout.

Some other workplace burnout causes as given by Gallup include discriminating treatment at the workplace. The workplace fostering a culture of nepotism and favoritism mostly sidelines some employees who feel demotivated when their accomplishments are neither recognized nor celebrated. This is also related to the support of colleagues and managers at the workplace. Healthy workplace relationships diminish the sense of isolation and give a sense of belonging improving the overall well-being of employees. A lack of human connection in life often leads to workplace burnout. Contrary to this, not knowing the boundaries between work and life also adds to workplace burnout. One needs to maintain a work-life balance no matter if they are working remotely or in-person.

Workplace Burnout Consequences

Workplace burnout consequences can vary from mild to severe impacting both mind and body. It can include tense workplace relationships, emotional instability, personal disengagement, career changes, job resignation, decreased satisfaction, physical and mental fatigue, deteriorated immune system, and chronic illnesses.

Workplace Burnout Prevention

Workplace burnout is not a permanent condition instead there are ways to cope with it. The best practice is to prevent workplace burnout from happening. But the question is how to prevent workplace burnout.

A simple answer to this is education and awareness about your workplace to understand the ever-evolving dynamics. One can learn its correlation with health to better identify when job burnout starts.

Secondly, the most vital step is to have faith in your abilities that you are capable of doing better. Also, along with the job duties, a clear set of goals should be defined in your mind about your expectations from the job.

Work never ends, so you need to set boundaries and give enough space to yourself to take the required rest. The human body is not a machine programmed to work all the time. So, to prevent workplace burnout it is important to take care of yourself. Likewise, escaping from pressures by extra-curricular activities or creativity can also help.

Grabbing maximum support available is another strategy to prevent workplace burnout. The social connections help individuals step out of their toxic thinking and feel a sense of belonging rather than isolation.

Workplace Burnout Treatment

In case, you were not able to predict workplace burnout coming and are now experiencing it, you can still treat it. Workplace burnout treatment includes identifying the causes that are triggering issues to resolve them from the roots. Then, you need to stop pretending and be real at least with yourself accepting who you are. This can be done by seeking support from a professional or from one’s social circle.

Then, relaxing yourself by taking breaks during office time is important to regulate your emotions and refresh your mind. During these intervals, you can either eat, walk, talk to someone, draw, sleep, or do whatever calms down your mind and body. Also, an off mood diminishes productivity, so if a person is feeling angry or frustrated, it is better to first clear his head and then get back to work honestly.


Workplace burnout is a multifaceted issue that affects individuals physically, emotionally, and professionally. It arises from chronic workplace stress and can lead to severe consequences such as decreased productivity, strained relationships, and even physical illnesses. Recognizing the symptoms early on is crucial for intervention and prevention. By understanding its causes and risk factors, individuals and organizations can take proactive steps to mitigate burnout and foster healthier work environments. From setting boundaries to promoting supportive workplace cultures, there are various strategies available to combat burnout effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Burnout

  1. Is workplace burnout recognized as a medical condition?

While not classified as a medical condition, burnout is recognized as an occupational phenomenon by organizations like the WHO.

  1. What is workplace burnout?

Workplace burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress at work.

  1. What are the main causes of workplace burnout?

Causes include excessive workload, lack of control, insufficient rewards, and poor work-life balance.

  1. What are some early intervention strategies for workplace burnout?

Early intervention includes regular check-ins with employees, offering stress management workshops, and promoting a healthy work-life balance.

  1. What are the signs of workplace burnout?

Signs include chronic fatigue, irritability, decreased productivity, and feelings of cynicism or detachment from work.

  1. How can organizations promote mental well-being in the workplace?

By prioritizing mental health initiatives, providing resources for stress management, and fostering a culture of support and inclusivity.

  1. What are the long-term effects of untreated workplace burnout?

Long-term effects may include chronic health issues, ongoing mental health challenges, and diminished career prospects.

  1. What are the consequences of ignoring workplace burnout?

Ignoring burnout can result in decreased job satisfaction, higher turnover rates, and negative impacts on overall organizational performance.

  1. How common is workplace burnout?

Studies show a significant portion of the workforce experiences burnout, with percentages varying by industry and region.

  1. What are the global trends in workplace burnout post-pandemic?

Post-pandemic, there’s been increased awareness of burnout, with more emphasis on flexible work arrangements and mental health support.


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