Transcript of Video #3 – The Scope of Job Related Burnout and Why It Matters

In this third video in the series on Job Related Burnout, I’ll discuss the scope of the problem and why it matters.

There is a detectable job burnout rate for any profession you can name. Some professions have very low rates of burnout such as hair stylist, audiologist, university professor, medical records technician, jeweler, medical laboratory technician, seamstress, dietician, librarian or forklift operator.

Some of the most stressful jobs with the highest burnout rates include retail, fast food, public accounting, police officer, attorney, school principal, teacher, social worker, nurse and the #1 most stressful job in the country – physician. Just listen to some of the statistics on burnout rates among physicians, an arena in which I am very familiar.

  • In 1987, an AMA survey showed that 44% of physician respondents over the age of 40 would not choose medicine as a career if they had it to do all over again. That number is now closer to 90%.
  • A 2011 survey of 2,069 physicians by Physician Wellness Services, a Minneapolis based company, found 87% of respondents felt moderately or severely stressed or burned out daily. The median age was 45 with an average of 13 years in practice.
  • In a survey that was presented to 13,000 physicians in 2012, 6 out of 10 physicians would quit today if financially able to do so. That’s 60%!
  • A 2012 study of 7288 physicians published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that 46% reported at least one symptom of burnout.
  • Burnout rates approach 70% in some specialties. Specialties with higher than average rates of burnout were Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, and Neurology.
  • The burnout rate among female physicians at 60% is higher than the male physician burnout rate of 52%.

One thing is certain, if any individual can identify the hallmarks of burnout they are either burning out or burned out. I don’t have to tell you the costs of job related burnout are devastatingly high, not only for the individual employee but the organizations who employ them.

I should know, I became burned out as a family physician. About six years ago I had hit all three hallmarks of burnout which I reviewed in the previous video, Defining Job Related Burnout. I felt horrible. I even felt guilty for feeling the way I felt. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong at the time. I just knew some things had to change.

I would later discover I was suffering from job related burnout and I began to study it in depth. I discovered individuals who become burned out are at risk for poor job performance, chronic unhappiness, increased irritability, depression, anxiety and mood swings. Even suicidal thoughts, suicidal actions, alcoholism and drug abuse are documented consequences of job burnout.

Bottom line, if you are burned out you will never feel you are living a life of purpose with passion. Besides the obvious consequences of these, there is also a potential for a great loss of knowledge, expertise and creativity.

A person’s vitality and creative force will be stymied or destroyed by burnout. Someone’s passion and sense of purpose can be completely subverted. Physicians have quit medicine, CEO’s have left the corporate world and experts in every profession have abandoned their chosen fields of endeavor over job burnout, all of which are tragedies.

For organizations, failure to address burnout in the workplace can result in a dysfunctional workforce, high staff turnover and inferior products or services. The result is a type of internal rot, not to mention the financial devastation this can bring. Replacement costs for workforce talent can carry a huge price tag for any business. In my profession, medicine, it can cost $100,000.00 to 1 million dollars just to replace a single physician.

The great news about burnout is it’s 100% reversible, treatable and preventable. When I realized I was suffering from job burnout I made some very simple changes right away which made all the difference in the way I felt toward myself, my patients and my profession.

I was able to attain the state opposite of burnout – Engagement.

To create a more engaged, productive and stable workforce, organizations can make some very simple changes to eliminate or prevent the six major causes of employee burnout.

In the next video in this series I’ll be discussing the 6 Job Mismatches Which Cause Employee Burnout. Follow the link to this video, The Scope of Job Related Burnout and Why It Matters, and thanks for watching.

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