The Rise of Employee Burnout: What Is It and How It's Caused

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, reputable businesses like Cirque du Soleil, CMX Cinemas, Hertz, and Airbnb have declared the end of their services. With that, thousands of employees don't have jobs anymore.

Some businesses are still trying to hold on. To stabilize their business, mass layoffs are done, and employees in the payroll are spread thin. This is why employee burnout is happening and is abruptly rising.


Burnout, as defined in the ICD-11, is "a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that hasn't been managed successfully."

Burnout is identified as having three aspects:

  1. Feeling depleted or exhausted
  2. Feeling distant, negative, or cynical about one's work
  3. Reduced efficiency in work

Employee burnout can be healthcare burnout, industrial burnout, or any work setting. In early May 2020, American professionals reported how they were experiencing employee burnout. 73% of 7,000 professionals were interviewed about this.


Employee burnout is a global experience. The pandemic doesn't only affect you physically; it's also affecting your economic state.

Business owners are pressured to adapt to pandemic safety protocols and the financial strain the pandemic's causing. Employees are also pressured to maintain a job even with a doubled workload to be financially stable. Everyone is affected.

Here are common factors that lead to burnout during these tough times:

Difficulty to Distinguish or Separate Work and Home

Working from home can be a blur. It may come to a point where you're confused if you're working from home or you're living at work. Adjusting with this 'new normal' can be a problem.

When you merge work and home, there can be conflict. Working from home parents primarily suffer employee burnout since they juggle parenting and working in one place.

Related: Mastering Working From Home As A Parent

Inability to Manage Workload

One cause of employee burnout is because of the unrealistic workload. Healthcare burnout is prominent because of the unrealistic workload. Apart from wearing PPEs for an extensive amount of time, healthcare workers have unrealistic work shifts. Some stay for weeks in the hospital.

Those who are unable to manage their workload suffer from employee burnout. That's because if they can't make it work, they think they've failed and are at risk of being fired.

Anxiety Due To Uncertainty In Maintaining A Job

Some employees are holding on despite the unrealistic workload and the risk of infection. Why? It's so they can put food on their table, and they could pay their rent.

Having a job is so important because it may be the only source of income. You pair that with the reality that there is a pandemic, and you see how a job is a blessing in these tough times. Employee burnout can be caused by the anxiety you have towards having a job in these uncertain times.

Businesses are closing down unexpectedly. This is a common reason why some are anxious about their work. If you're continuously anxious about your job and its security, it can develop to chronic stress.

Related: The Common Types of Stress

If you think you're experiencing employee burnout or healthcare burnout, it's important to find ways to destress. Employee burnout can be proactively prevented by managing your thoughts, responses, environment, and work setting.

Today is a challenging time. It's a time where burnouts are increasing because of the stressful events and baggage thrown at you. But, it's important to see that you're still here. You are resilient enough to overcome this.

You are capable of overcoming employee burnout. You only have to engage in conquering it actively.

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