Studies show upwards of 90% of job related burnout (JRB) is caused by toxic and dysfunctional work environments. Yet, so many times the efforts to reduced or eliminate burnout are directed toward the individual and their symptoms rather than the underlying causes, those being Work Overload, Lack of Control, Insufficient Reward, Breakdown of Community, Absence of Fairness and Conflicting Values.
Common individual strategies at reducing burnout have included stress reduction, yoga classes, work/life balance instruction, efficiency training, meditation and mindfulness. While these approaches are not without benefit, they are a lot like alcohol relief drinking — the effects are only temporary and new problems are often created in the process.
Whenever physicians or other professionals are subjected to individual approaches to JRB there is a subtle, if not overt, message that they are the cause of their symptoms. It is implied that they lack sufficient skill training to properly handle their stress, that if they only knew how to handle stress better they would naturally feel better.
Approaching JRB in this way alone doesn’t correct the underlying issues. It merely delays proper interventions which work, frustrates employees, causes resentment and wastes resources.
As I have pointed out in previous posts, stress and burnout are not the same. Stress rarely causes burnout but burnout can and does cause a great deal of stress. Eliminating burnout will eliminate the stress it causes and some other workplace stressors.
To eliminate both from the workplace you must treat both separately. The key to identifying, mitigating or eliminating burnout is to identify the underlying causes and attempt to reduce or eliminate them form the work environment.