Focus on desk in a workplace with people talking in the background.

There are many misconceptions about burnout, the use of technology to address it, and a lack of strategies to modify the workplace.

Workplace burnout is a pervasive issue that can have severe consequences for both employees and organizations. It's essential to debunk misconceptions about burnout and explore strategies that go beyond treating the individual. In this article, we will delve into the nature of burnout, its relationship with workplace culture, and innovative solutions that prioritize systemic change over quick fixes.

Understanding Burnout in the Workplace

In today's demanding work environments, burnout is often characterized by feelings of energy depletion, exhaustion, and negativism. Employees transition from peak performance to mere survival mode, diminishing their professional efficacy. It's crucial to acknowledge that burnout is not a medical condition but a typical human response to chronic stress, primarily stemming from the workplace itself. 

The World Health Organization defines burnout as "a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed." To tackle this problem effectively, organizations must grasp the essence of burnout and learn to recognize its manifestations within their workforce. Addressing burnout necessitates a comprehensive approach—one that considers workplace culture and explores new procedures and alternative strategies.

Strategies to Combat Burnout in the Workplace

Supportiv, an peer-to-peer support network, is making strides in addressing burnout by interpreting employees' expressions of their feelings and connecting them with the right resources. However, the issue extends far beyond individual experiences—it encompasses the work environment as a whole.

Drs. Christina Maslach & Michael Leiter conducted research that has identified six key areas of work-life that influence the engagement and burnout of an employee. These areas are crucial for understanding what makes a job suitable for an individual based on their psychological state: 

  1. Workload
  2. Control over tasks
  3. Recognition and rewards
  4. A supportive environment
  5. Fairness and trust
  6. The presence of meaningful work

To foster a positive work experience, organizations must actively manage these areas.

Supportiv addresses burnout by addressing the complex interplay of these work-life areas within the systemic workplace environment. While change may not occur overnight, Supportiv leverages technology to provide real-time peer support that allows individuals to express their concerns and receive advice and resources to address these issues effectively.

Ultimately, solving burnout requires changes at the organizational level. Organizations should actively engage with their teams to identify and implement systemic changes that are customized to the specific workplace culture and persistently evaluated and adjusted until they yield positive results. To ensure optimal performance and satisfaction among employees, organizations must take responsibility for their role in creating a healthy work environment. 

If you're interested in exploring burnout further, consider reading Drs. Maslach & Leiter's book, The Burnout Challenge, available on Amazon

To watch the full conversation about this topic in a Behavioral Health Tech webinar, watch the recording here.