Browse Definitions:
Definition

burnout

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Burnout is persistent physical, mental or emotional exhaustion caused by long-term stress, usually as a result of excessive workplace and/or personal responsibilities.

Because burnout cannot coexist with engagement, it's a serious problem for the enterprise. Burnout is associated with higher stress levels, poorer performance, more illnesses and absenteeism, and less productivity. In a corporate culture that places high demands on employees,  the cumulative effect can be lower profitability and higher staff turnover. 

The concept of burnout comes from psychology. Herbert Freudenberger, a clinical psychologist, first identified the concept in the 1970s. Social psychologists Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson subsequently developed an assessment tool, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, that characterizes burnout as a syndrome involving exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. The predominant characteristic of burnout is often considered to be exhaustion. 

Burnout is not considered a separate disorder because it overlaps significantly with depression. A recent study by Bianchi, Schonfeld, and Laurent found that 90 percent of workers identified as burned out also met diagnostic criteria for depression. 

Depending on the particular case, burnout may be alleviated by changes in the work environment and job demands, as well as changes in the individual's behavior and approach to work. If nothing changes, however, burnout tends to create a downward spiral, in which an unsustainable situation leads to exhaustion and dissatisfaction, which lead to poorer performance, which in turn leads to a worsened work situation or even job loss and increased stress on the individual.

See also: work-life balance, micromanagement, mindfulness training, employee advocacy

See Shawn Achor's TED talk, "Stop working hard. Start working happy."

This was last updated in November 2014

Continue Reading About burnout

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

SearchSecurity

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

  • GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

    GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an OS that allows a computer to compensate for physical memory shortages by ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close