Employee burnout—two words everyone needs to take notice of in 2021. The corporate world may have been focused on remote offices and faltering lines of international distribution, but it’s burnout that most affected employees.
In fact, of the 8,000 respondents surveyed by Workday Peakon Employee Voice, 29% said they were on the cusp of total burnout by the end of 2020.
Employee burnout is one of the biggest threats to worker wellbeing and employee engagement. According to a landmark World Health Organization (WHO) study, Mental Health in the Workplace, employee burnout can cost the global workforce one trillion dollars in lost productivity each year.
To help frame this discussion of how to prevent employee burnout, we’re using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, a widely used measure of aspects of the burnout syndrome. It identifies six domains that contribute to work burnout:
But simply listing this six domains isn’t enough. Reducing employee burnout means fully comprehending these six domains, and applying that knowledge to workplace initiatives—with Workday Peakon Employee Voice’s well-tested advice as essential support.
What is Employee Burnout?
First coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, employee burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion that can lead to cynicism, lack of engagement, and even an inability to complete normal day-to-day activities.
According to one survey of over 600 senior HR leaders, nearly half (46 percent) say work burnout is responsible for between 20 to 50 percent of their annual workforce turnover (further corroborated by our own research on the reasons why employees leave).
If the conditions for employee burnout are present in your organization, then it’s never been more important to understand what they are, and how to deal with them properly.
What Causes Employee Burnout?
While some cases of burnout result from individual personality factors or issues outside of work, it’s normally organizational issues that contribute to excessive stress. The global pandemic will undoubtedly have impacted overall employee wellbeing, but you can still reduce employee burnout with the right approach.
To help identify the contributing factors of burnout, Maslach & Leiter developed a framework that identifies how well matched (or in the case of employee burnout, mismatched) someone is with six different domains of their job environment.
We’ve highlighted each of those domains below, along with suggestions for how to reduce stress in that particular domain. That way, you can help people feel more engaged, reduce stress-related health problems and build a better sense of community within your organization.
1. Overwhelming Workload
Unrealistic expectations and conflicting priorities can make it impossible to manage a heavy workload, which quickly results in employee burnout. A workload mismatch can also result from the wrong kind of work, which usually happens when people lack the skills or inclination for a certain type of work—even when it’s only required in small doses.