Employee burnout is all over the news lately. The reasons behind that are as numerous as they are varied and include financial and mental health pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic; the Great Resignation; Quiet Quitting; and the highest annual inflation rate, at 8.3%, that Americans have seen since the 12.5% of 1980.
It’s hard to be a member of the American workforce nowadays – and no less challenging, it must be said, to be an employer trying to attract and retain talent, maintain operations and achieve profitability amidst all this chaos.
While we don’t claim to have all the solutions, we have some answers to questions such as how to address employee burnout, increase engagement, and avoid, or at least reduce the incidence of, resignation and quiet quitting at your company.
What is Employee Burnout?
The term “burnout” came into use in the 1970s. It has never held a standardized meaning, but the most widely accepted definition was that burnout is a medical condition, a “state of vital exhaustion.” Historically, it has also been considered a personal health problem to resolve at the individual level.
Then in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized burnout as a form of occupation-related, unmanaged stress:
According to WHO:
“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed … Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
But WHO went even further:
“Burn-out is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon, not a medical condition… reasons for which people contact health services but that are not classed as illnesses or health conditions.”
In the ICD-11, WHO states that three factors classify burnout:
- Feelings of exhaustion or energy depletion;
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job; and,
- Reduced professional efficacy
ICD-11 went into effect as of January 2022. As a direct result, the responsibility for managing employee burnout has shifted away from individuals experiencing burnout to their employing organizations.
In other words, it’s time for companies to develop a burnout strategy.
Since it’s not a medical condition, the business case is less about employer liability and more about burnout’s impact on employee well-being and the associated costs of that reality.
Although the WHO is working to develop guidelines for prevention strategies, it’s currently up to individual companies to decide how to approach employee burnout, which some human resources experts claim to be epidemic.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), companies that don’t have systems to support employee well-being will experience higher turnover, lower productivity, and higher healthcare costs.
The APA estimates workplace stress to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion each year, with over 550 million workdays lost due to pressure on the job.
The American Institute of Stress estimates that 60-80% of workplace accidents are attributed to stress, and over 80% of doctor visits are due to stress. Workplace stress has been linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and many more acute and chronic health conditions, some of which can be fatal.
Gallup says that burned-out employees are 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking other employment, 63% more likely to take a sick day, and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.
Gallup also found top five reasons for burnout are:
- Unfair treatment at work
- Unmanageable workload
- Lack of role clarity
- Lack of communication and support from their manager
- Unreasonable time pressure
This list demonstrates that the root causes of employee burnout lie within the organization, not the individual, and can be mitigated and possibly avoided altogether if leadership applies prevention strategies early enough in the game.
Where To Go From Here
If you are a regular reader of the Xceleration Resources page, you’ve seen many articles in support of the fact that engaged employees are generally happy, satisfied, more productive in their jobs, more contributory to company profits, and far less likely to indulge in quiet-quitting behavior or to look elsewhere for employment.
In building your strategies, we encourage you first to review the information-packed, quick-reading Xceleration Resources linked below.
These articles use research to address various aspects of employee engagement. They outline how company culture, recognition, and incentive programs can help you create effective strategies to address employment, burnout, and retention issues.
- Recognition and Engagement in Today’s Workforce
- How Your Leaders Can Empower Recognition
- How Managers Help Build a Culture of Recognition
- Countering the Effects of Quiet Quitting
- It’s the Thought That Counts (Really!)
- How Individual Employee Travel Rewards Can Benefit Your Business
When you’ve had a chance to look through these, contact Xceleration, and let’s get to work! Or call us first, and we’ll happily discuss the facts with you.
A Partnership That Provides Results
Companies that conduct well-structured recognition programs are 12X more likely to experience robust and successful business outcomes.
Founded in 1999, Xceleration is here to show you that Rewarding Works®, – and we know we can make it work for you, too.
The professionals of Xceleration are skilled in making people feel motivated, inspired, and appreciated. We have even created a patented, web-based recognition platform, RewardStation®, that’s used worldwide to provide employee recognition solutions.
Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how Xceleration can help you get results in your workplace.