Burnout harms 75% of workers

Burnout represented by embers of a fire

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of joining the first of Ezra‘s “Unfiltered” series of events. To kick off the series, we looked at the topic of burnout. It was a really enlightening discussion which started with a useful and vital comparison of depression and burnout, so as to set boundaries for the conversation.

To ensure clarity, we applied the definition of burnout from Professor Christina Masclach that “burnout is a psychological syndrome that involves a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job”. This definition of burnout means that if one was to remove the stressors, this should thus avoid burnout and its associated negative feelings and thoughts.

This is not the case with depression – the feelings and thoughts would continue even if the stressors were removed, which is why depression should be treated by trained psychotherapists and counsellors.

So, back to burnout. 

My key takeaway of the discussion was the idea that burnout itself is a symptom of some or many triggers.

According to a paper written by Elizabeth Grace Saunders, there are six triggers that can lead to workplace burnout:

  • Workload – when workload out weighs your capacity
  • Perceived lack of control – feeling like you lack autonomy or a say in decisions
  • Reward – extrinsic and intrinsic rewards don’t match the time/effort you’re putting in
  • Community – you don’t ‘click’ with people you work with and you don’t trust them
  • Fairness – you’re treated unfairly
  • Values mismatch – your values and your employers’ values don’t match

This last point is really important in my work as a work and career coach. Indeed, working with my clients to identify their personal values and motivators is usually one of the first things we work on together. It shines a light on what’s important to the individual. Indeed, I’m noticing that people are really waking up to the concept of wanting and even needing their career roles to meet their personal values. This allows them to identify, research and plan to take action to find work that brings them joy and energises them. Life is too short to do work that triggers burnout.

Burnout stats

We were told by Gallup in March 2020 that 76% of employees identify as burned out. One can only imagine that this number has increased during the pandemic, especially given that it’s often the case that there are additional stressors external to the job making burnout worse – for instance, caring responsibilities (of elderly parents, young children or disabled relatives) or chronic illnesses.



How do you feel right now?

How do you feel most days at work?