Stress and burnout are increasingly common in the workplace. Nearly half of all American workers say that their jobs are very or extremely stressful. Job expectations that suddenly change, demands for greater productivity, and fear of losing one's job during a period of recession are adding to these already high stress levels. Though not a precisely defined medical condition, burnout has recognizable symptoms and is a result of prolonged stress.

Workers report feeling lethargic, empty, and no longer able to take satisfaction in their jobs. They also begin to question the value of the tasks they perform. In everyday parlance, they hate to go to work, not just on an occasional morning but on most mornings. This will hurt business. In fact, 50 percent of employees said job stress reduces their productivity, and those who report high stress are three times more likely to suffer from frequent illness.

Reducing stress in the workplace takes a committed management and may take a financial investment. Spending money up front, however, is likely to save money in the long run.

Ways to Reduce Burnout

  • Allow employees to talk freely with one another.
  • Reduce personal conflicts on the job.
  • Give employees adequate control over how they do their work.
  • Ensure that staffing and expense budgets are adequate.
  • Talk openly with employees.
  • Support employees' efforts.
  • Provide competitive personal leave and vacation benefits.
  • Maintain current levels of employees benefits.
  • Recognize and reward employees for their accomplishments and contributions.

More information can be obtained from the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) 1640 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22313. Phone (703) 683-8100.