Burnout prevalent among dissatisfied employees

Burnout can be caused by a discrepancy between a worker's personality and job duties.

Do you find yourself struggling with staying motivated during your job or internship? Are you fatigued and exhausted when your workday is done? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of burnout. Burnout is caused by an incompatibility of a person’s unconscious needs with job demands. Examples of this incompatibility phenomenon include an introverted individual presenting a court case to a jury, or an outgoing person working at home alone all day as a computer programmer.

Job burnout is defined as physical, emotional and mental exhaustion due to work. It can manifest itself in many forms. A lack of motivation, inefficiency on the job and feelings of hopelessness are just a few symptoms. Burnout can also be attributed to various medical conditions such as anxiety, heart disease, immune disorders, insomnia and depression.

A study at the Universities of Zurich and Leipzig found that individuals whose jobs are not aligned with factors that motivate them emotionally suffer from burnout at the highest rates. Using surveys collected from 97 men and women, the authors of the study delved into how workers experience burnout and how their job experiences drive it.

Burnout goes beyond personal discomfort and dejection—it poses a very real threat to businesses as well. Burnout on the job leads to absenteeism, employee turnover, reduced rates of productivity, as well as legal and insurance expenses. The American Institute of Stress estimates that burnout amounts to $300 billion in expenses for U.S. businesses per year.

However, most people do not have the luxury to quit a career they have spent years building due to dissatisfaction. Veronica Brandstatter, Ph.D.,  professor of psychology at the University of Zurich, proposes “job crafting,” in which “employees proactively try to enrich their job in order to meet their individual needs,” as a possible solution to burnout. For instance, an extraverted individual who thrives on social interaction but works alone in their office is encouraged to reach out for more collaborative roles on the job.

On an individual level, a less idealized and more comprehensive perception of certain jobs is vital to reducing burnout. For instance, many go into careers as physicians because they aspire to help others and make meaningful connections. Once actually on the job, physicians often find themselves running from one patient to the next, balancing multiple treatments at once without being able to spend much quality time with their patients.

To further combat this form of burnout, Brandstatter’s job crafting strategy is applied, with many physicians electing to attend mindfulness training in order to be more engaged with their patients in the short time that they have with them.

Job burnout can also be combated outside of the workplace—people experiencing symptoms of burnout are encouraged to speak to a counselor in order to better manage symptoms of work-related stress. Regular physical activity and getting an adequate amount of sleep can also serve to fight burnout and increase overall happiness and wellbeing.