According to the WHO, burnout—”a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”—is characterized by by three distinct dimensions:
- Feelings of 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
You know that feeling when you’re so completely checked out of your job? That’s burnout. So is sitting there with resentment at the fact that you aren’t home in bed watching reruns of Gilmore Girls. Believe it or not, hating your job isn’t normal. This type of burnout, classified by the WHO on May 25, “refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” While the cause of burnout is strongly tied to professional responsibilities, its effects spill over into personal relationships and family matters.
Americans are working longer and harder than ever before. From a business standpoint, the WHO’s recognition of burnout as a potential medical diagnosis should be a serious wakeup call to employers. It’s a direct result of stress that hasn’t been dealt with properly. And burnt-out employees simply can’t do their jobs as well.
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