Workplace Burnout Now an Official Medical Condition. Here Are Tips to Prevent It

Jun 03, 2019
| Michael Altiero
Employee Burnout Now Recognized

One of the biggest problems employers and employees face today is workplace stress and burnout. Research from Gallup found that around 25% of U.S. workers feel burned out due to work “very often or always.”

Studies have shown that employee burnout results in higher absenteeism, lost productivity, poor mental and physical wellbeing, and higher turnover.

Many employers are adopting wellness programs and benefits to help their workforce better cope with stress brought on by work. But there is still a lot that needs to be done.

Recent developments, however, show just how big of an issue employee burnout is in the world today. But what is this latest news, and will it result in employers taking further actions to better address employee wellness?

Employee Burnout is Now Recognized as an Official Medical Diagnosis

In the 11th revision of its handbook, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis.

In the ICD-11, employee burnout is listed under the section on problems related to employment and unemployment. According to the WHO, “burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The handbook states that doctors can diagnose someone with burnout if they display these symptoms:
  • 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

Additionally, the World Health Organization states that burnout “refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

How Can Employers Help Prevent Employee Burnout?

Burnout at work has gotten much more attention in recent years, culminating in the recognition by the World Health Organization. With this work-related health issue now officially on the books, what can employers do prevent it?

Here are a few tips and strategies business leaders and managers can explore to help prevent and reduce employee burnout in the workplace:
  • Promote and ensure open door policies
  • Give employees the resources they need to thrive
  • Provide helpful and constructive feedback
  • Let employees in on decision-making processes
  • Listen to and act on employee feedback recommendations
  • Create a great company culture
  • Set attainable and reasonable goals
  • Have clear lines of communication
  • Always recognize employees for great performance
  • Enhance PTO policies and encourage employees to use their time off
  • Allow for flexible scheduling and work-from-home days
  • Value work-life balance
  • Train leadership and managers on how to handle employee stress and burnout
  • Have company events and fun team activities
  • Continuously monitor and review processes to improve efficiency
  • Explore solutions to improve workplace perks and employee benefits
  • Offer and promote an employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Establish volunteer programs and opportunities outside of work for employees
  • Encourage teamwork throughout the company, not just within departments
  • Focus on improving the employee experience

Employers, Business Leaders, and Managers can Help Prevent Burnout

With burnout now an official medical condition, even more attention will be brought to this workplace issue.

And with it will come more pressure for employers to put strategies in place to prevent employees from experiencing it, while also helping those who are already burnt out.

But even small employers can take actions, such as improving perks and benefits, that will help reduce workplace burnout while also improving all areas of employee wellness.

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