burnout stress


Burnout develops gradually in response to prolonged stress and mental and emotional strain.

Example: Unable to cope with the increasing pressure and excessive demands. The employees get pushed towards a state of exhaustion. Fatigue, inadequacy, de-personalization, frustration. All above result into burnout

Cost stress at organizational level

Productivity, absenteeism, medical expenses, compensation claims and heath insurance.

Being an HR, strategies should be developed so that burnout will be prevented and employee well-being could be promoted.

Causes of Job Burnout

  • Personal Expectation from the job
  1. Achievement expectation – It is about what to accomplish mainly inculcated while training.
  2. Organizational expectation – It is about his job and profession as a member of that employing organization essentially be shaped by the organization itself during the time of recruitment.

Both this un-met expectations and shifts in expectations influence the level of burnout.

Risk of having very high and unreasonable expectation and accompanying enthusiasm have been described as “first inflamed the out burn”.

In older employees, negative shifts in expectations occur and with experience they lower the expectations to reasonable level.

Professionals who join the organization with very high expectations and idealism through his work, he wishes to infuse his life with purpose and meaning. When he fails, it manifests itself as burnout .

  • Role efficacy & Role Conflict

Role overload and self role distance as critical determinants of burnout amongst Indian executive.

Role conflict has been found to cause absenteeism, job dis-satisfaction, hyper-tension and even burnout. This is being seen specially for those who have personality traits of rigidity.

Role conflict and role ambiguity factors have a moderate to high co-relation with the different dimensions of job-burnout.

High role conflict is prevalent in roles that exist at the boundary between departments of the organization and between the organization or external world. Therefore, managers who often perform boundaries spanning functions such as putting into the action the policy demands of the senior management even while knowing the possible negative effects on subordinates at this particular role conflict arises.

Market oriented: Highly vulnerable to burnout as they face role conflict due to the often incompatible demands of the organization and the customers

  • Role Ambiguity

Lack of information about the scope of one’s responsibility.

For burnout “ Present ambiguity” and “ Future prospects of ambiguity” leads to job dis-satisfaction, low self-confidence and self-esteem, depression and hypertension

Role conflict has been found to be related to irritation but role ambiguity is mainly related to anxiety.

  • Type A behavior Pattern

Typical feature’s of Type-A behavioural pattern are excessive competitiveness and achievement oriented, pre-occupation with work and dead-lines, a chronic sense of time urgency manifested in a person’s hurried overt behavior, control oriented and impatient.

Type-A traits forces an individual to take more responsibility for other’s resulting in role overload and strong psychological strain.


Role of HR Interventions

  • Burnout Audit

Burnout audit helps in identification of executive suffering from burnout so that effective steps could be taken to deal with them. This can be done with the help of EAP (employee assistance programme). EAP provides forum for outlet of stress, emotions, jobs or personal issues. Confidential counseling services are also provided as a part of EAP. It can be undertaken once a year as a part of employee checkout.

  • Person Job fit

It refers to the match between the abilities of a person and the demands of job or the desires of person and attributes of a job. Some people equipped with better capabilities for handling stress than others. Preparing competency framework for every position. Behavioral dimensions are integral part of performance appraisal. High degree of stress, anxiety, inadequacy and exhaustion in functional departments can be identified and referred to HR department for counseling or transfer to less stressful job. Thus, taking care of role overload.

  • Human Capital Development

Training and development helps the employees. Training on stress management techniques. Work life balance programmes to be organized periodically. Burnout itself is an experiencing tremendous stress. Therefore the training needs to be customized to meet their requirements.

Role stagnation: no vertical growth. Sticking at a role

  • Employee Centric Work Culture

Supportive environment provides opportunities for performance of employees to peak which furthers fuels their motivation.  People central to the organization are not only more prosperous but also have higher degree of organizational commitment employee engagement and employee will bring organization can focus on strengths rather than on weakness.

Phases of Burnout

  • Emotional Exhaustion

It is due to a combination of personal job and organizational stressors. People who expect a lot from themselves and organization in which they work tend to create more internal stress which in turn leads to emotional exhaustion. Having too much work to do, by role conflict and by the type of interpersonal interactions encountered at work. Frequent intense face to face interactions that are emotionally charged are associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion.

  • Depersonalization

Overtime emotional exhaustion lead to depersonalization  which is the state of psychologically withdrawing from one’s job.

  • Feeling a lack of personal accomplishment

The above phases finally results in a feeling of being unappreciated, ineffective or inadequate. Effects of these three phases is a host of negative attitudinal and behavioral outcome.


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