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Exhaustion, Cynicism, and Inefficiency, Oh My! Avoiding Burnout at Work

I’ve blogged about the importance of increasing employee engagement, but I haven't yet written about one potential problem associated with low employee engagement--burnout. I want to explore burnout more today. You’re likely already familiar with the concept, because it’s becoming prevalent in today’s society.

The original definition of burnout is credited to Herbert J. Freudengers, but recent conceptualizations of job burnout define it as “a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job…defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency” (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001, p. 397).

There is a wealth of information out there about burnout, and I’d like to share some of my top resources here.

Burnout can be avoided, and research indicates that organizational factors can play a role. Autonomy, or employees' ability to do their jobs with their own discretion, has been shown to reduce burnout. And, supervisor and coworker support can buffer employees from burnout.

For me, having autonomy in my job helps keep burnout at bay. And, I'm getting a little better at delegating and outsourcing, and that's helped me reduce my stress lately. But for me, and perhaps for you, keeping engaged and energized is a constant work in progress.

What are your strategies for avoiding burnout? What can you do to help someone in your life today who might be headed toward burnout?

If you want to learn more about employee development, check out the services we offer or email me at


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