Burnout in the workplace
Eurofound analyses existing data and policy responses to burnout
SW – 10/2018
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) has published a report on ‘Burnout in the workplace’. The review of available data and policy responses shows that there is strong public interest in the topic. This can be seen in the large number of studies on the topic; however, these differ in approach with regard to definitions and results.
The report is based on national research on the prevalence, work-related factors and the effects of burnout. The report looks at whether burnout in each Member State is considered to be a syndrome or an occupational disease. It also examines the work factors associated with burnout, including psychosocial and physical work factors, work intensity and work organisation. The report also reviews national strategies to deal with the issue, the involvement of the social partners in the current debate, and preventive measures that have been adopted.
The report concludes that there is clearly public interest in burnout, but further research should be undertaken to assess whether the data collected so far and the policy responses to it are successfully addressing the topic. A number of questions are unclear, such as how the specific characteristics of burnout can be identified and whether the work factors that lead to burnout are the same ones that cause work-related stress. Further research needs to determine if emotional exhaustion is different from fatigue and exhaustion, and if burnout is another form of fatigue that requires specific recovery mechanisms. It is also unclear how long it takes for someone to become burnt out and what could be done to prevent his.
In order to gain an EU-wide perspective on this issue, Eurofound asked its Network of Correspondents in the EU Member States and Norway to review the main national research results and policy debates on burnout. The report was particularly interested in determining whether it is a disease or a syndrome, what its work-related factors are and how the problem is addressed by the social partners and in public policy in each country. The report was prepared on the basis of answers given by the correspondents to a standardised questionnaire.