Posted by: healingtheworkplace | September 7, 2008

When Work Causes Burnout

While there are many situations in life that can cause you to burn out (caring for elderly parents while holding down a full-time job might do it). Burnout is commonly associated with unrelenting stress caused by the type of work you do or by the type of environment you work in.

Burnout sneaks up on you. It’s like the story of the frog in the jar…if the frog is in the jar before the water is introduced s/he might not notice as the water heats up slowly…until it is too late and s/he finds him/herself in a jar of boiling water.

Of course if you put the frog into the boiling water s/he would jump out immediately…we hope.

It is the same at work. We often keep working under pressure long after it is healthy for us to do so.

Burnout can happen to anyone. It was originally thought to occur in people such as fire fighters and social workers but now…it is understood that burnout can occur to anyone…given the right (wrong?) conditions.

Burnout is characterized by:

  • fatique
  • frustration
  • feelings of inadequacy
  • anger
  • despair
  • etc. etc.

Of course not everyone in a high stress job will experience burnout.

What causes it?

  • too mand demands and not enough time
  • not being qualified (lacking the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to do the job)
  • not being recognized for your efforts
  • negative boss, co-workers, clients

The signs of burnout include…irritability, problems sleeping, increased alcohol and/or drug use, tearfulness, snappiness and feeling helpless.

There are a few things you can do if you are noticing any of these signs.  The first thing you could do is take a quiz and if it looks as if you are burned out or on your way you might want to seek the help of a counsellor or a coach.

Good luck!


PS Lance Secretan has a lot of cool resources on his site…check them out!



  1. Burnout is not caused by high stress; it is caused by “uncontrollability”- Powerlessness, damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t situations – so that people feel that no matter what they do they cannot succeed. When the pressure to perform on the job is high then the possibility of burnout is even greater. Burnout is a motivational problem. A person struggling with burnout is demotivated, dispirited, depressed – down.

    While burnout is not caused by stress; it is stressful. Stress is the “fever” of burnout. As with pneumonia. A high fever must be reduced or there is a risk of brain damage – BUT once reduced the pneumonia is still there. Similarly with burnout – the stress must be reduced but reducing stress does not deal with the job situations rendering the person helpless. The person must develop a feeling of controllability.

    Burnout is prevented and turned around by developing feelings of control over the job, or a sense of personal power. There are many paths to personal power, including self-management, managing stress, developing a strong social support system, managing one’s thinking, altering the job, changing jobs, developing skill, and developing detached concern.

    For considerable information on job burnout, the symptoms, burnout quizzes, and what to do to prevent it or turn it around – go to my site at

  2. Hello webmaster
    I would like to share with you a link to your site
    write me here

  3. I’ve write about how managers can deal with the situation where their employees burned-out. If the situation is not being handled properly, it could cause harm to the business or organization. Hope this post could prove to be beneficial to your readers as well:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: