Worker Burnout: Too Much Work and Unclear Goals
“‘Burnout’, n. ‘Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress’” (Oxford Dictionaries)
Two issues have come to the fore in terms of staff experiencing burnout - bosses who work too many hours, and conflicts in terms of duties performed.
This can result in burnout and high healthcare costs (estimated at $120 billion annually in the USA, along with 120,000 deaths).
Bosses working excessive hours
Generally managers who work long hours encourage their staff to work similar hours. This encouragement springs from either employees following their manager’s example or exhortations by the manager to also work long periods.
Experts say that a balanced lifestyle between work and leisure is necessary to keep the workforce mentally sharp and they question the benefit of excessive work hours. As one has put it, “Darwin only worked four hours a day and he radically changed human thinking”.
It is important that you satisfy yourself that your executives are not pushing their staff into an unnecessary workload.
Surveys show that another area of unhappiness is that staff face conflicting duties when performing their work. It is natural that people want to be as proficient as possible in their jobs, but they often find this almost impossible to achieve.
As an example, take the roles a physician is expected to fulfil:
- Diagnose and treat patients
- Research in his/her chosen field
- Mentor learner physicians
- Travel to and attend conferences
- Attend to all the administration required including staff appraisals, budgets, sit in on committee meetings - the list goes on.
Thus, the physician ends up in the position of failing to meet some requirements which leads to frustration.
It can also potentially lead to lower productivity as it may encourage staff, like the physician, to get political in pleasing their superiors.
What can you do about these conflicts?
Researchers have made some key recommendations to address these work-work conflicts, beginning with defining what outcomes the business requires. This will result in:
- Ensuring staff have an appropriate job description based on fulfilling the key aspects of their job requirements.
- Making sure there is clarity and transparency as to what is expected of staff, and what goals they are expected to reach.
- Aligning their salaries and bonuses to these defined outcomes.