Updated: Dec 20, 2021
In 2019 World Health Organisation (WHO) officially recognised employee burnout as a occupational chronic stress illness resulting from workplace stress that has been left unmanaged.
Definition of Burnout
Burnout is distinguished by WHO as:
Feelings of exhaustion or depleted energy
Increased mental distance from one’s job
Feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job
Reduced professional efficiency
It is also emphasized in the definition that burnout relates specifically to the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.
Workers in high-risk or high paced roles/ environments are more susceptible to burnout. It is important for those in high-risk environments to recognise symptoms and act quickly, as tired workers can be more likely to have incidents.
Stress vs. Burnout
It is important to note that stress and burnout are very similar. You cannot have burnout without stress.
Symptoms of worker burnout can consist of the following:
Becoming disconnected / isolated from the work environment
Lacking energy or showing consistent fatigue
Unusual seclusion and distance from others
Cynicism or a newly negative attitude
Increased tendency for accidents
It should be noted that different workers experience different burnout symptoms.
Some workers experience burnout without exhibiting any of these symptoms. It is
important to take your people and their individual personalities into account when
deciding how to act.
What Causes Burnout?
A lack of independence or occupational control - feel like they have no input in deciding how to perform a task or simply grow apathetic about work in general.
Vague Job Expectations - Uncertain measures of success or tangled lines of authority.
A negative work environment - Low morale, harassment, discrimination.
A lack of social structures/ rewards - Being secluded at work, or a lack of recognition or fair compensation.
Poor Life / Work Balance - Overworking to the point of exhaustion or constantly thinking about work outside of the job.
Thinking about stress from home on top of work responsibilities - arriving to work already stressed creates a lack of focus on their daily activities
How to Avoid Worker Burnout
There are ways to make sure workers are energised and feel like they are
surrounded by a caring and conscious safety culture.
Encourage Leadership -
Increase the rotation of safety committee members to give all interested
workers a chance to participate in meetings. This can even help motivate and
identify future company leaders.
Personalise Communications -
Encourage your more reserved and introverted workers to speak up about any
issues they may have in smaller group settings like toolbox talks and one-on one conversations
Acknowledge Worker Contributions -
Use the power of empowerment by rewarding workers who speak up about safety hazards or
suggest more efficient ways to perform tasks. This helps create a culture where workers feel they can make a difference and it helps you promote safety standards at work
Set Up Team Building Events -
Help build more camaraderie in your team by organising optional activities.
Emphasize Personal Health -
Promote healthy living habits like getting enough sleep prior to a shift, eating health,
drinking more water, and taking regular breaks throughout the work day. If one of your
workers is dealing with personal stress from outside of work, refer them to services that
may be able to assist them
Our team are available if you require assistance with your health and safety.
Please contact us if you require any advice or check out our website: