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Burnout and stress in the contemporary workplace

An expanded point of view on burnout, exploring its connection with stress and the evolution of the work environment

The escalation of stress and burnout is notable, and an increasing number of people feel that their employers do not care about their well-being.

 Definition of exhaustion/burnout and its impact on mental well-being in work environments:

 According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome that arises from uncontrolled work stress. The current scenario, with the pressures of working during a pandemic and extended working hours, constitutes a clear source of stress. While not classified as a medical condition, burnout can negatively impact physical and mental health, leading to increased anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and several other problems.



Managing burnout is challenging, primarily because it often affects the most dedicated employees. These people often take on additional responsibilities, work longer hours, and experience greater work-related stress. Your commitment and lack of work-life balance can eventually have adverse effects. Although supervisors recognize your effectiveness, salary, recognition, and rewards for career progression may need to be aligned with your contributions.

Common traits among those experiencing burnout include:

Physical fatigue: Persistent feelings of tiredness, energy depletion, and fatigue are common indicators of reaching the limit. Starting the day exhausted and ending it with minimal energy are daily experiences for these people.

Cynicism: Burnout often manifests as a disengagement from work, marked by negative feelings or cynicism. Doubts may prevail about the importance of your work and its impact. 

Professional efficacy: A decreasing sense of personal efficacy is an important aspect of burnout. Despite being competent and productive, people may feel that their efforts are futile and have difficulty completing routine tasks.



Chronic burnout negatively affects work performance, as long hours, excessive workload, and increased stress affect mental health.

 Several strategies have emerged within companies that strive to improve employee mental well-being and mitigate burnout:

  •  Emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI):
  • Many organizations are looking for ways to support employees, particularly those from underrepresented groups (people of other ethnicities, races, religions, reduced motor skills, cognitive disabilities, etc.).



  • Salary increases:

Many employers are raising wages in response to inflation and increased competition. Research suggests that higher pay correlates with greater job satisfaction, although its impact on burnout at all income levels remains unclear. In particular, job insecurity and low wages raise the risk of burnout.

  • Time management:

One popular approach is to encourage employees to take more time off to promote a healthier work-life balance. However, offering additional days of PTO or unlimited leave can sometimes alleviate burnout issues. Employees may fear a buildup of work during their absence, making it difficult to return. Dedicated and burnout-prone employees are hesitant to voluntarily take time off. Company-wide closures can provide a sense of permission to disconnect from work without anxiety.



  • Creating a culture of well-being:

Many employers strive to establish a less stressful work environment that fosters a sense of support and value among employees. Key strategies involve improving relationships between employees and managers by clarifying job roles and ensuring a consistent and predictable set of responsibilities. Additionally, efforts are made to genuinely reinforce the value of each team member.