Burnout cases have been on the rise in recent years and there are multiple reasons why we’re seeing such an increase. Whilst causes for burnout used to be reserved to stressors at work, the last couple of years has seen this change somewhat. As more and more people took their work home with them, the lines between home and work life became blurred, creating more causes of burnout than ever before.
In this guide, we’ll go through some of the most common burnout causes that you might be at risk of both at work and at home.
Causes of Work Burnout
As burnout predominately stems from high levels of stress in the workplace, it’s understandable why some of the most common burnout causes start at work. Job stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to burnout and there are several reasons why this might be. Here are some common employee burnout causes:
High workload and/or unreasonable targets
If you’ve been given a higher than normal workload or management is setting unreasonable targets, then this could cause you to feel more stressed than normal. According to research, employees who say they are given enough time to complete all of their work are 70% less likely to experience burnout. If expectations from management are set too high, this can cause high amounts of job stress and eventually lead to employee burnout.
Lack of reward and/or appreciation
If you feel as though the rewards or appreciation don’t match the time or effort you put into your work, then this can be one of the causes of work burnout too. Feeling underappreciated can lead to us feeling unfulfilled in our roles or even trying to prove ourselves by trying to work longer hours.
Workplace relationships and bullying
If you don’t have supportive workplace relationships, or are even experiencing bullying, then this can lead to extremely high levels of stress. Community is so important for resilience, stress management, and burnout prevention. Not having the right, supportive community around you at work can lead to job burnout and poor mental health pretty quickly.
Unfair treatment in the workplace
Along similar lines to lack of reward and/or appreciation, feeling as though you’re not being treated fairly can also have an impact on stress levels. If your time or effort isn’t being recognised, but you see others getting praise, then it can make you feel worthless or unimportant. If you feel as though there are biases against you in the workplace, then this could exacerbate job burnout.
Lack of clarity and/or control
Do you have clarity over what your job role entails? Do you feel as though you have control over your days? If you’re lacking in clarity or autonomy at work, then it can feel like a real struggle to get through the day. According to research, only 60% of workers know exactly what is expected of them and this can lead to emotional exhaustion trying to work out what needs to be done.
Inability to leave work at work
Something that we have seen a real rise in over the years, and not just during the pandemic, is the inability to leave work at work. With modern technology, many of us are expected to be switched on at all times, perhaps answering work calls out of hours or responding to emails. As more and more people took their work home with them in the last few years, this has become an extremely common cause of employee burnout.
Common Burnout Causes in 2022
Research from Mental Health UK has identified nine key factors that are thought to have contributed to the rise in burnout over the last few years. These burnout causes are believed to be found both at work and at home, which lead to high levels of stress and worry. These are:
81% of people asked said that they agreed money worries could contribute to burnout, and with the recent cost of living crisis this is only expected to rise. Worrying about money can increase stress levels exponentially. Some may look for other work to try and bring in extra cash which can add even more stress to their plates.
Working from home
As mentioned above, we have seen a lot more people not being able to leave their work at work, or in the workplace, over the last few years. Working from home has made it harder than ever to shut off, especially if we want to prove that we are still productive outside of the office. This is a major factor in employee burnout.
Worries about job security
During the midst of the pandemic, around 11.4 million people were furloughed for at least one three-week period. Worries about whether there would be a job to come back to have contributed to the increase in stress levels for employees across the country.
Something that we’ve seen a lot at The Anti-Burnout Club has been the risk of loneliness and isolation. As building a strong social circle is so important for reducing stress and burnout, those who haven’t been able to socialise as much have really been suffering.
In the Mental Health UK study, 79% of people felt that poor physical health could contribute to burnout – and we have seen similar results here too. Not looking after our basic physical health needs can make it even harder for us to deal with day-to-day stressors. Experiencing burnout can also make it hard to deal with our physical health so it can be a catch-22.
Just like with physical health, another key burnout cause is not getting enough sleep. It can feel like a difficult cycle to break if you’re unable to sleep due to stress and then feeling stressed due to tiredness. We focus on sleep as part of Foundation 1 of our Five Foundations of Wellness as we know just how important it is!
Problems with relationships can contribute to stressors both at work and at home – this includes the relationship we have with ourselves! If you don’t feel supported then it can be harder to deal with stress or some of the symptoms that come with burnout (such as isolation).
Yet another one of the common burnout causes that rose during the pandemic was home-schooling children. However, we believe that any kind of ‘juggling’ of work and home life should be included on this list. Trying to manage everything at once can lead to feelings of overwhelm and high levels of stress.
Caring for others
Caregivers are some of the most at risk of burnout, whether it’s a paid caring role (eg, carers, social workers, NHS, etc) or unpaid caring responsibilities. Caring for others can also lead to compassion fatigue which generally goes hand-in-hand with burnout. Trying to care for ourselves when we care for others can sometimes feel almost impossible!
Can Certain Personality Traits Cause Burnout?
There may be certain aspects of our personalities that make us more susceptible to burnout too. These include:
- Perfectionism – Trying to make everything perfect all of the time can add to our levels of stress, especially in the workplace
- Lack of confidence in ourselves – If you don’t have belief in yourself and your abilities then you’re likely to experience higher levels of stress due to always doubting yourself.
- Pessimism – If you’re naturally a pessimistic person then you may find it harder to manage stress or keep on top of it.
- Inability to switch off – This may be due to a condition such as ADHD or may just be part of your personality type. However, those that do find it difficult to switch off and relax are more likely to suffer from burnout.
- People Pleasers – Those who struggle to set boundaries for themselves or who are constantly putting others first may start to find overwhelm taking over.
Whilst these personality traits or thought patterns may put you more at risk of burnout, it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily burn out simply due to having them. Usually, we’d expect to see some of the other burnout causes combined with these as opposed to these being standalone risk factors.
These are some of the most burnout causes and it’s important to note down any that might be a risk factor for you. Knowing if you’re at risk of too much life or job stress can help you put steps in place to try and prevent burnout.
You can watch this free burnout workshop and complete the workbook to help put your anti-burnout plan in place if this is something you’re worried about or if you’re already experiencing burnout. Understanding the signs and having a plan of action is key to helping prevent burnout before it creeps in.