‘Burnout’ Is Now Classified as A Medical Condition

Burnout results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

The three key symptoms are:

  1. Exhaustion
  2. Disengagement or distance from one’s workplace
  3. Reduced professional performance

For the first time, burnout has been added to an official list of diseases and related disorders. It is debilitating for the individual and also damages the economy. Depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion annually. Workplace stress is thought to cost $300 billion a year in the US alone1.

Cause & Effect

According to the World Economic Forum, “research into burnout has been linked to office politics, menial working tasks that interfere with work duties and high job demands that lead to exhaustion. Rising workloads and long hours are the main culprits; however, some employees are better able to cope or are more adaptable than others.

Perception of stress is also a contributing factor. If you perceive you do not have the right resources to cope with your workload, or perceive it to be more than you can cope with, you are much more likely to succumb to stress-related disorders.

Individual differences and personality types also play a role in the risk of burnout. Type A personalities, for example – who have a mix of behavioural traits that include hardiness, impatience, competitiveness and drive – and people who like to have large amounts of control, are also linked to higher rates of stress at work. Research shows that employees with these personalities tend to be more restless, hostile and time-conscious, which puts them at greater risk of workplace stress”.

1Werber, C. (May 28th, 2019) Burnout is making us worse at our jobs, according to the WHO

2Tottle, S. (October 31st, 2016) It’s costing the global economy £255 billion, so what can we do to stop workplace burnout?


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