Job burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. It can be considered a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is deﬁned by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency. Burnout can be caused by being overworked, understaffed, and misguided by management. There is an abundance of research on the topic of burnout and how it relates to employee engagement and work life balance. Like many things in an organization, it can have a dramatic impact on one’s mental and physical health.
Personality plays a key role in how well we manage our time and responsibilities. This suggests that a positive mindset and attitude can help reduce stress when under pressure. One study found that all five personality traits from the Big Five model were highly correlated with job burnout and turnover. The traits were found to be predictors of job burnout where individuals who were higher in neuroticism and lower in extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness were more prone to experience job burnout. It seems that communication and collaboration with other team members can dramatically decrease the effects of burnout.
When an individual is overworked for a long period of time, they can experience chronic burnout. It has three components: emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment. It’s different from short term burnout due to the fact that it can result in serious health issues. Long term stress on a person’s body can affect mood, heart health, and more. On top of that, it can weaken the feelings of fulfillment from job rewards (i.e. paycheck), employee engagement, and job creativity. This would mean that there are virtually no motivators either external or internal that would drive an employee to continue the job. This is how high turnover occurs.
Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce burnout. Although personality cannot be changed, specific behaviors and habits can. Next time you feel stressed about a project, try reaching out to a coworker. Talking it out with someone can be beneficial for both problem solving and mental stability. We are all human, and sometimes we need a break. It’s important for organizations to schedule consistent breaks for their employees so that productivity can be maximized. It’s also crucial that employees’ personal lives be considered so that everyone can have a good work life balance. If a team member is not performing as well as they should, try to first consider what’s going on in their lives. They could be going through a personal issue and need some time off. All employees need to be able to feel that they have control over their careers. Without it, they can feel helpless, overworked and burnt out.
Sexual harassment is any behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other social situation. Although it affects both males and females, women are extremely more likely to experience sexual harassment at work by male employees. There is extensive research on this subject as well as the psychological effects of sexual harassment on one’s personal and professional life. One article specifically states that women who have been harassed are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders, and will also face consequences in their career. They are either forced to withstand the harassment without reporting it or are asked to leave their jobs if they do report it. Unfortunately, because of this, many instances are not reported. It’s important for organizations to continually bring up this topic so that employees can be aware of the signs.
Power can be seen as the core of sexual harassment. Popular characterizations portray male supervisors harassing female subordinates, but power-threat theories suggest that women in authority may be more frequent targets. One article analyzed longitudinal survey data and qualitative interviews to test why and how supervisory authority, gender nonconformity, and workplace sex ratios affect harassment. Researchers found that female supervisors are more likely to report harassing behaviors and to define their experiences as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can serve as an equalizer against women in power, motivated more by control and domination than by sexual desire. Interviews point to social isolation as a mechanism linking harassment to gender nonconformity and women’s authority, particularly in male-dominated work settings. This suggests that sexual harassment is both physically and emotionally damaging.
It’s important to clarify the distinction between sexual harassment and workplace violence. Workplace violence involves making harmful statements about internal personal attributes while sexual harassment deals with external and gender attributes. They both have significant negative consequences for employees’ job attitudes, performance, and psychological and physical well-being. However, research shows that victims of workplace violence may experience stronger adverse outcomes than victims of sexual harassment. This is due to the fact that victims of workplace aggression are more likely than victims of sexual harassment to personalize the mistreatment and make internal attributions. In other words, negative outcomes of workplace aggression were stronger in magnitude than those of sexual harassment. Not to say that the effects of sexual harassment are minimized in this comparison, but this just highlights how damaging an unhealthy work environment can be for one’s personal and professional life.
If you or anyone you know has or is currently being harassed at work, there are resources available to help you recognize the signs and how to effectively report it.
Herschcovis, M. S. & Barling, J. (2010). Comparing victim attributions and outcomes for workplace aggression and sexual harassment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5), 874-888. doi: 10.1037/a0020070
McDonald, P. (2012). Workplace sexual harassment 30 years on: A review of the literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 14(1), 1-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2011.00300.x
McLaughlin, H., Uggen, C., & Blackstone, A. (2012). Sexual harassment, workplace authority, and the paradox of power. American Sociological Review, 77(4), 625-647. doi: 10.1177/0003122412451728
I wanted to share with you one of my favorite books this year so far -- The Self-Care Solution. When I went to Canada early on this year, I was at Indigo (a bookstore) looking for new books to read. I set a goal for myself that this year, I want to be able to read at least 3 books. For many of you, that is probably an easy task, but for me, a full-time working student, I struggle with finding the time to be able to sit down and read a book. I’m always working on something – school or work-related that when it comes to downtime, I just want to close my eyes (I’m usually in front of a monitor 8 hours or more a day).
Anyway, I found this self-care book and was curious of the content as it is different from all the other self-care books I have skimmed through at the bookstore. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but I must say that I highly recommend reading it because it is relatable and easy to apply in your daily life. I mentioned having not finished the book and the reason is because each chapter consists of a different month where the author, Dr. Ashton, changes one thing in her lifestyle. For example, January for her was dry month. Each month, she shares her story of how certain habits she changed were either difficult to stop or push herself to maintain. And at the end of each chapter, she gives you a summary of things that you can do on your own and some suggestions that are not that difficult to do. She also highlights the benefits of each lifestyle change using science and she shares her own observations of how these small changes have positively affected her physical and mental well-being.
If you are interested in checking out her book, I've included the link below. Let me know what you think and what you have decided to incorporate in your life!