Burnout: A Serious Mental Health Problem Among Employees

Are you tired and stressed at work? It could be burnout, which is now an official health diagnosis, and one of the biggest mental health problems at work.

Burnout is a growing mental health problem among employees. This condition is on the rise. A recent poll by Gallup found that nearly 23 percent of full-time employees very often feel burned out at work. Almost two-thirds of employees experience burnout at least occasionally.

Workplace stress and burnout have a negative impact on workers’ health and well-being. It has been linked with coronary artery disease, diabetes, and an increased risk of death among workers age 45 and under. The condition accounts for up to $195 billion in health care costs every year. It also leads to increased organizational costs, as well. In fact, burnout is estimated to costs more than $323 billion a year on the global economy.

Public health organizations around the world are also drawing attention to this growing mental health problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that burnout will lead to a global crisis within a decade. The organization announced plans to include burnout in its International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-11, which is a diagnostic tool used by medical providers. The updated version of the ICD-11 will be released in January 2022.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is a condition that is characterized by mental stress and fatigue. It stems from chronic workplace stress. The main symptoms of burnout include feeling exhausted or depleted, poor work performance, and feelings of negativity and cynicism related to work. Other signs of burnout include difficulty concentrating, getting sick more often, and insomnia.


Research into burnout indicates that it is related to several conditions. Some of the most common causes of burnout include:

● Limited resources and support – Workplaces that are often understaffed and don’t provide resources to their employees are more likely to have higher rates of burnout.
● Long hours – Working long hours and being required to respond to texts and emails after work hours is a primary cause of burnout.
● High workloads and job demands – Some workplaces maintain a culture of sacrifice where employees are expected to take on unmanageable workloads, meet unreasonable deadlines, and forgo lunch breaks. These employers expect one employee to do the work of five. These types of work environments are linked to high levels of employee burnout.
● Office politics – Office politics and unfair treatment can cause workplace stress leading to burnout.

Aside from organizational factors, there are also personal factors that contribute to burnout. Research suggests that personality and individual differences are also to blame. Some employees are better able to cope with workplace stress than others. People who have Type A personalities, or those who are more driven, impatient, and competitive, tend to have higher levels of workplace stress than others.


Burnout can cause a variety of physical and psychological problems that can have long-lasting effects on a person’s well-being. They include depression, drug and alcohol use, irritability, fatigue, and social withdrawal. Many high-profile people have talked about the consequences of burnout on their lives. Arianna Huffington, who is the founder and current CEO of Thrive Global and The Huffington Post, said that she once broke her cheekbone after collapsing from exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

Are You Suffering From Burnout?

To figure out if you are experiencing high levels of workplace stress, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you often feel physically drained after a day at work?
2. Do you have a hard time concentrating on work tasks?
3. Is it difficult to find the energy to get up and go to work in the morning?
4. Do you feel emotionally detached from co-workers, like you just don’t care?

If you have answered “yes” to many of these questions, then it is a good indication that you are suffering from burnout.

How To Reduce Burnout

Here are some of the top ways to eliminate workplace burnout. 

● Say “No,” more often – Many organizations routinely overload employees — expecting them to stay late, be available outside of business hours, work weekends, and take last-minute requests to do more work. But, trying to meet unrealistic work demands is a surefire path towards burnout. To stay energetic and focused on work, start saying “No” more often. If you don’t have time for that big project, turn it down. Don’t agree to speak at a conference if you feel overwhelmed. Saying “No” may mean turning down opportunities, but it will give you the chance to stay focused on what is most important to you.
 Know your strengths and weaknesses – If your job does not fit your current skill set, it is easy to become burned out and disengaged. Know what your strengths and weaknesses and make sure they align with your current career.
● Maintain boundaries – Make sure you maintain clear boundaries between work and personal time. You need physical time away from work, as well as time where you don’t think about work. Resist the urge to check emails after hours. Wait until the next morning to answer messages.
● Outsource tasks – It can be hard to outsource if you are a perfectionist or like to maintain control of a project. But, no one is an expert at everything. Rather than trying to do it all, outsource time-consuming tasks to professionals. This can free you up to do other more important work. Plus, professionals can provide valuable insight if you do decide to take on these tasks in the future.
● Exercise – Exercise is crucial to both your physical and mental health. Researchers have found that regular exercise helps reduce stress and burnout.
● Take a vacation – Working relentlessly will only cause stress. Therefore, take time off work regularly. When you are on vacation, make sure you recharge entirely and relax. Try to unplug and take your focus away from work completely.
● Practice meditation – Meditation is a simple practice that can help you beat burnout. It doesn’t take long to do. There are many great meditation apps to help. Calm is a great app that offers many different types of guided visualizations and relaxation exercises.
● Get enough sleep – When you don’t get enough sleep, you are more susceptible to the harmful effects of stress. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night to function properly.

Although burnout is a serious mental health problem, it can be managed by following the above tips. Eliminating burnout can lead to more productive and happier workdays.

How do you manage stress at work?


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