Burnout in the Workplace
Author(s): Sukhnoor Saprai
Burnout can be defined as exhaustion due to extended work-related and personal stress at an all-time high (Alessandri et al., 2018). Researchers have determined that burnout not only impacts employees but has a great impact on their clients as well (Shoshan & Sonnentag, 2020). This can ultimately lead to poorer outcomes for both parties. Dimensions of depersonalization, a callous and detached approach towards clients, and emotional exhaustion, the state of being physically and emotionally worn out, are two distinctive attributes that are associated with burnout (Dreison et al., 2018). It has also been established that highly demanding jobs also create negative employee attitudes and cause a surge in career turnovers (Barthauer et al., 2020). Demands of these kinds can include heavily increased workloads, and or overworked hours.
Moving forward, it is important to understand that burnout can be detrimental. Through thorough research, it was established that negative emotions are a feeling that is present dominantly in times of occupational burnout (Barthauer et al., 2020). Burnouts can be presented through many different signs. Self-doubt, hopelessness, irritability, and withdrawal from liabilities are some of the many signs seen in someone who is experiencing occupational burnout. The healthcare sector is a known organization which are currently facing these issues. Healthcare workers worldwide during the time of COVID-19 pandemic were workers who had high rates of occupational burnout (Dreison et al., 2018). Frontline healthcare workers were forced to work through rigorous conditions which were never seen before. They were met with an inadequate number of supplies, unpreparedness, and the constant stress of being placed in unsafe working conditions. Hospitals had overcrowding of patients, health care workers were seen working extra-long hours, sleep deprived, emotionally exhausted, and stuck in high-stress work environments with little to no support services during this time. This is one example, in one field. Occupational burnout is prevalent in all different lines of work. This problem is very unjust and unhealthy. With the high prevalence of occupational burnout, we must advocate for organizations and employees to implement appropriate coping and wellness-related strategies to address the rising prevalence of occupation burnout in all fields of employment.
Though, it has been noted that advocacy for such an issue can be rather difficult as studies have found that there is little knowledge, treatments, and prevention strategies that are available for occupational burnout (Canu, 2021). That being said, with appropriate research, it was established that there are some techniques out there to help. Some techniques that could be beneficial to take on this issue come from an employee’s self-perspective or as the organizational/employer responsibilities. To produce optimal well-being and productivity in the workplace, organizations need to add practical methods that acknowledge balance and accessibility to services as their top priority to ensure their employees are well taken care of.
The first recommendation I propose is for employers to advocate for a strong work-life balance. This will create a clear division between work and personal lives. It will enable workers to reduce the weight of stress and prevent burnout from occurring. This intervention can also be referred to as a person-directed approach. Person-directed approaches help reduce burnout by educating people on personal coping and relaxing strategies (Dreison et al., 2018). Some strategies to ensure this process is efficient is by incorporating small yet attainable attitudes in the workplace. Firstly, dealing with your negative emotions and understanding the focal cause of it, is a strong way to lower the risk of burnout and increase tolerance levels to stress (Alessandri et al, 2018). Other methods include prioritizing your employee’s health. By maintaining adequate physical, mental and emotional health, emotional exhaustion, and depolarization get minimized and feelings of self-efficacy and emotional stability maximize (Alessandri et al, 2018). To maintain good health, incorporating meditation and gratitude into a routine is a small yet effective approach. To separate work from personal lifestyle, establishing boundaries (ex. no work talks outside of the workplace), unplugging, and taking rightful breaks are appropriate initiatives organizations must advocate for their employees to take on.
The second method to improve health and safety within the workplace is reliant on the organization's attempts to implement workplace assistance programs. Workplace assistance programs will provide their employees with readily available resources in hopes of promoting emotional well-being. These organizationally directed interventions modify aspects of a workplace that are leading causes of burnout and have been found to be an effective approach in trying to overcome occupational burnout (Dreison et al., 2018). Training and educational programs that cover psychosocial skills, stress management, and personal well-being would be beneficial in managing challenges regarding mental health disparities faced by employees. During onboardings in training, policies and resources must always be taught and readily available for access so that employees feel understood and see a way out of this disparity and have the appropriate access. Also providing access to adequate resources that manage mindfulness, stress management, coping mechanisms, counselling, and support groups enables them to reach out and intervene with the depolarization and emotional exhaustion they are facing and seek help immediately before reaching a point of job turnover. Access to these programs is only a beginning step in preventing this issue. Encouragement is heavily required. Many find it humiliating or shameful to seek help when they need it, especially regarding mental health issues. It is important that during these times, they are approached with no bias and judgement and get the help that they seek.
To conclude, it is evident that burnout has massive impacts on a person’s well-being and work performance. The emotional exhaustion and depolarization caused by burnout is a massive weight on the shoulders of employees who are not aware of the resources they have available to them that can aid them to have a better quality of life. Feeling poorly in the workplace results in treating those who you interact with on a daily poorly, essentially, you project what you receive (Canu, 2018). To allow people to overcome this battle, organizations must understand and accept that this is an issue that is occurring in their workplace. They must then intervene and promote work-life balance and provide access to resources and programs that can help. Encouraging and promoting these wellness techniques will allow for substantial change. This is a huge leap forward in promoting health and safety in workplaces. Putting in the effort to ensure your employees are happy and healthy will produce the greatest work outcomes and strong client outcomes.
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