What Causes Employee Burnout?

Employee burnout is at all-time highs across industries. The American Psychological Association put it simply in one of their articles titled “Burnout and stress are everywhere.” How bad is it? The APA’s Ashley Abramson writes, “According to APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey of 1,501 U.S. adult workers, 79% of employees had experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey. Nearly 3 in 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%) and lack of effort at work (19%). Meanwhile, 36% reported cognitive weariness, 32% reported emotional exhaustion, and an astounding 44% reported physical fatigue—a 38% increase since 2019.”

So what causes burnout? The website Business2Community lists five reasons:

1. Unfair or Inconsistent Treatment

Many employees cite unfair on-the-job treatment as a major contributor to burnout. For example, certain real estate agents making a higher commission rate than their peers could have a huge impact on morale at a brokerage. Nepotism, favoritism, uneven compensation, bias – these all serve to exhaust, frustrate, and anger employees.

When employees don’t think their workplace is fair, they have very little incentive to put forth any real effort or to expect that their efforts will be acknowledged and rewarded.

2. Overwork

If an employee is given too much work, they could easily end up burned out and unmotivated. Part of this goes back to the principle of fairness: if an employee knows they’re doing the work of two (or more) employees, they’ll inevitably experience a feeling of exploitation.

Combine that lack of trust with the simple, brutal fact of how much effort is required to work through a huge workload, and you have a toxic recipe for burnout.

3. Overly Tight Deadlines

Not having adequate time to complete their work, and being forced to work overtime or work twice as fast, can be extremely stressful for employees. Worse yet, this deadline-related stress accumulates – and when they reach their limit, they burn out.

4. Poor Communication From Management

Employees must feel informed and supported by management, or the resultant ambiguity can lead to anxiety, stress, and frustration. If there isn’t healthy, regular communication from management regarding workplace goals and responsibilities, employees will understandably start to wonder if their managers have their back and if their performance is meeting some unspoken standard.

Open communication is an especially important issue today with managers, with the huge increase in the number of remote workers.

5. Ambiguous Roles

Employees who understand their roles and what’s expected of them are able to perform efficiently – and feel secure in that performance. On the other hand, employees who don’t have well-defined roles are left wondering what to do and if their work is satisfactory. This kind of ambiguity is very frustrating, and the resultant stress and anxiety are a fast track to burnout.

Knowing the causes of burnout is important. We’ve written about preventing burnout in previous blog posts.

Are just some of our posts addressing how to help employees and bosses avoid burnout. Outsourcing tasks might be one way you can take pressure off your business. Let us do day to day tasks like bookkeeping and administrative work. We have various packages. Contact us and find out how we can help.

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