What is burnout, why does it matter and how do you address it?

What is burnout, why does it matter and how do you address it?

What is burnout, why does it matter and how do you address it?

You may have heard that burnout has been included in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), published in May 2019.

Why does this matter? Because any changes to ICD classification are significant.

ICD-11 is a system of medical coding created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for documenting diseases and diagnoses with their signs and symptoms. Healthcare professionals use it to classify and keep a record of conditions and ensure that people are prescribed the correct treatments.

Although not yet a medical diagnosis, burnout is now considered a syndrome that results from chronic work-related stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three symptoms:

  • Energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Moreover, studies have shown that burnout is becoming increasingly common and – without beating about the bush – organisations are facing a burnout crisis. A recent Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that:

  • 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always
  • 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes

So, about two-thirds of full-time employees experience burnout at work. That’s a lot of people.

What do you think the impact of burnout is on creativity, engagement and productivity?

In short, individual, team and organisational performance spirals down and plummets – and that’s not the end of the story. Those who feel burnout are:

  • 63% more likely to take a sick day
  • 23% more likely to visit an emergency room
  • 13% less confident in their performance
  • 6 times as likely to leave their current employer
  • Twice as likely to struggle with family responsibilities

They are also half as likely to discuss their problems with a manager. But burnout is not unavoidable. You can address it Individually and organisationally, you can prevent it and you can reverse it.

According to Gallup there are five factors that correlate with burnout and addressing them can yield results:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Lack of communication and support from manager
  • Unreasonable time pressure

But before you start to design your burnout plan and make changes, you need clarity and your employees need clarity too. Without clarity the external changes may not be what is required and they will not have the impact you want. I see it all the time: many changes without clarity = lots of time, lots of effort, lots of money but low impact.

My recommendation is to start with the fundamentals and build your programme on strong foundations. Building strong foundations means developing an organisational understanding about how we operate psychologically as human beings. In short, it is about helping people understand how their minds work, how their emotions work, where their feelings come from and how to harness clarity and fresh ideas in any situation – starting right now.

This is simple. It is an easy gain. It can make a tremendous impact on people’s professional and personal lives without waiting for changes to be implemented. Of course, the changes are necessary but they will follow on from understanding and clarity.

People who understand how their psychology works are much more resilient, resourceful, creative and engaged – in any circumstances.

You can start addressing the burnout crisis right now.

Drop me a message to find out more.



Image by Sydney Sims

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