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.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • compliance framework

    A compliance framework is a structured set of guidelines that details an organization's processes for maintaining accordance with...

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • privacy compliance

    Privacy compliance is a company's accordance with established personal information protection guidelines, specifications or ...

SearchSecurity

SearchHealthIT

  • telemedicine (telehealth)

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the ...

  • Project Nightingale

    Project Nightingale is a controversial partnership between Google and Ascension, the second largest health system in the United ...

  • medical practice management (MPM) software

    Medical practice management (MPM) software is a collection of computerized services used by healthcare professionals and ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • crisis management plan (CMP)

    A crisis management plan (CMP) outlines how to respond to a critical situation that would negatively affect an organization's ...

  • disaster recovery (DR) test

    A disaster recovery test (DR test) is the examination of each step in a disaster recovery plan as outlined in an organization's ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

SearchStorage

  • kilobyte (KB or Kbyte)

    A kilobyte (KB or Kbyte) is a unit of measurement for computer memory or data storage used by mathematics and computer science ...

  • megabytes per second (MBps)

    Megabytes per second (MBps) is a unit of measurement for data transfer speed to and from a computer storage device.

  • zettabyte

    A zettabyte is a unit of measurement used by technology professionals and the general public to describe a computer or other ...

Close