Safety Leadership

Graphic to illustrate employee burnout

What is Burnout?

The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.  Workplace stress can come from time pressures, lack of control over work tasks, long working hours, shift work, lack of support within the organization and moral injury from co-workers.   

What Does Burnout Do or Look Like?

Signs of burnout are similar to the signs of depression.  Both have neurological effects on the body and burnout's 3 main signs are:

  • Exhaustion - feelings of energy depletion or emotional, mental and physical exhaustion.
  • Cynicism - mental distancing, alienation from those you care about, and feelings of negativity that don't go away.
  • Reduced Professionalism - the inability to work at the same speed, quality, level that you used to work at.  

Why Talk About Burnout?

2023 surveys by national firms reported that the average burnout rate sadly climbed to 38%.  That percentage has risen steadily from 2019 when it was below 26%.  In addition, burnout is affecting certain segments of the workforce differently.  In 2023 polls 46% of female workers reported to be experiencing burnout.  That is only slightly lower than Gen Z and millennials who reported burnout at 48%.  Why is it important?  Because burned out employees are less productive at work, are more distracted and prone to workplace injuries, resign at higher rates, and experience negative family and friend relationships.   

What Can You Do?

Unfortunately, taking a weeklong vacation is not going to solve burnout.  Remember burnout is workplace stress that is not successfully managed.  The Mayo Clinic provides this list of actions you can use to manage stress.  

  • Try a relaxing activity - explore programs that can help with stress, such as yoga, meditations or tai chi.  
  • Get some exercise - physical exercise can help you to better deal with stress and to take your mind off work.
  • Get some sleep - sleep restores well-being and protects your health.
  • Evaluate your options - discuss specific concerns with your supervisor and try to set goals.
  • Seek support - whether this is reaching out to friends, loved ones or co-workers, or an employee assistance program.

Help is available and free at Urbandale.  The City's EAP benefits can provide you with help to manage stress from both at work and at home.  EAP offers help with health issues, life coaching, financial and legal consultation, eldercare and childcare resources, identity theft services and mental health services.  EAP can be reached 24/7/365 at 1-800-327-4692.

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