xi) Burn-Out & Stress


Another name for burnout is excessive fatigue.

This is an extreme case of when your life is not in balance

"...recognised burnout as an occupational phenomena described as a state of virtual exhaustion.....up to 40% of the workforce is affected by it at some point......not as a single event but as a process in which every day stress and anxiety is gradually undermining one's mental and physical health. It's a state that cuts across all levels of an organisation affecting CEOs and executives, people leaders and employees..."

World Health Organisation (WHO) as quoted by Andrew May 2019

"...conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed..."

World Health Organisation (WHO) as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019

It belongs in the workplace and is characterised by

- feelings of energy depletion or chronic exhaustion

- increased mental distance from one's job, or feeling of negativity or cynicism related to one job

- reduced professional efficacy

A simple sign can be struggling to get out of bed in the morning and other signs include

"...overwhelmed by every day decisions, or becoming stressed or confused by ordinary tasks. You find it hard to focus, feel unusually tired or unmotivated, and find it hard to sleep at night..."

Stuart Taylor 2020


"...Anxiety and depression are now more common than colds and flu..."

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners as quoted by Andrew May 2019

With technology allowing us to be available 24/7, burnout is now more common

"... In 2018......almost a third of workers from a range of industries were suffering from some form of mental illness. Of these, 36% were suffering from depression, 32% from anxiety and 31 from unsustainable workplace stress..."

Natascha Gillezeau 2019

"...between 5% and 7% of the Australian workforce suffers from burnout..."

Michael Letter as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019

"...burnout is the accumulation of stress related to the idea that you should be working all the time, and any time that you are working is 'good'; any time that you are not working is 'bad'..."

Helen Petersen as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019

This has been called "workism", ie

"...that work should be the nucleus of our lives, the centrepiece of our identity and the fundamental organising principle of our society..."

Natascha Gillezeau 2019

In many organisations

"...The dominant narrative.....was that work comes first, hours in the office was a direct measure of your ambition, and dedication could be gleaned from your willingness to do weekend work will hold meetings at absurd times......burnout was the endpoint of an extreme obsession with work......you don't need to work 12 hours a day to be successful..."

Daniel Petre as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019

In some areas, work has morphed into a religious identity that promises transcendence and community.

Query workism's dogma by asking the following questions

"- To what extent can your job provide you with a sense of purpose?

- What does fulfilling your career potential really mean?

- When is work a calling and when is work just a job - no matter how interesting or well-paid it might be?

Derek Thompson as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019

It is thought that Millennial suffer more from the risk of burnout than other generations. The 3 main reasons for this:

i) they have very high ideals about what they can and should achieve in their careers (when your prime core motivations and values are not being met, disillusionment can set in which can drive burnout)

ii) high expectations of respect in the workplace (for example, they are far less tolerant of and outspoken about sexism, racism and workplace bullying than previous generations; they have high expectations of respectful workplace relationships and can become disturbed when these are not met)

iii) a heightened sense of uncertainty about the future of work and the planet (concerns about global warming, climate change; these looming crises, with little apparent positive action to mitigate them, can create a sense of hopelessness which can lead to burn out)

Some questions that can be used to identify if someone is at risk of burn out, ie

"...- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- And what are you into?
If all the answers are about work that's......a warning sign..."

Skye Romuld as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019

Need to address structural factors like over work and long hours

Of interest is the concept that humans are designed to work up to 20 hours a week

"...anything above that, humans need a lot of support, praise and positive human relationships. Otherwise, they are pretty much in a permanent state of stress..."

Bob Murray as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019

Furthermore, it is claimed

"...humans can work deeply about four hours a day. Anything else is just junk work......we have steered off course by seeing rest as antithetical to work, when in fact, deliberate rest is a powerful component in supporting our best work......what constitutes beneficial rest.....going for walks, taking short naps, reading and engaging in the art of the conversation all get the thumbs up..."

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang as quoted by Natascha Gillezeau 2019


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