What is Burnout? Who is at Risk?


Burnout can strike anyone with practically no warning. For decades, burnout wasn’t even regarded as a real disease or condition. It was nothing more than an office buzzword. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has given it its own medical classification. It now finds its own entry in the International Classification of Diseases, the official handbook used by medical providers for the purpose of diagnosing diseases.


Today, burnout is recognized as a medical condition which can strike anyone with practically no warning. Waiters, teachers, bus drivers and nurses, burnout can strike us all leaving the body feeling completely powerless and low energy.


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According to a study carried out in 2018, 40 percent of 2,000 employees questioned said they were considering quitting their jobs because of burnout. Additionally, a similar study found that around 60 percent of work absenteeism was as a result of stress induced burnout.


Who is at Risk for Burnout?


According to many reports, burnout strikes perfectionist types more than other personality types. It seems to strike particularly idealistic people who also have strong sympathetic natures and those who work in professions focused on helping others such as doctors, nurses, social workers and teachers.


Contributing Factors to burnout in nursing


Contributing Factors


Feeling increasingly hassled without an accompanying support system seems to add a significant risk. A study involving a group of nurses revealed several factors leading to burnout:


• Working long hours


• Irregular lifestyle


• The burden of carrying a huge responsibility for patients


• Having to keep up to speed with ever changing medical equipment


• Lack of resources and support


Interestingly, studies found that, while there is a high percentage of nurses who succumb to burnout, obstetricians aren’t so equally prone. Although the latter also work long hours and encounter stress at work, it seems the appreciation they receive as a result of helping bring a new life into the world offsets the negative effects of the stress. Hence, it isn’t just stress per se that may trigger an episode of burnout, but rather stress combined with feelings of lack of appreciation and support that may leave one vulnerable.


What are the Symptoms of Burnout?


Signs of burnout may include persistent feeling of worry about going to work, along with chronic stress, fatigue and sleep problems. Someone experiencing burnout may find it practically impossible to leave the house or even the bedroom growing more and more cynical and perhaps even distant with friends and colleagues, while worrying unreasonably about work when physically away from work. They may find themselves irritated by minor things that usually wouldn’t even get a reaction.


Additionally, the far-reaching consequences can negatively impact other areas of life. In an effort to cope and reach out for some relief, someone might even become increasingly at risk for substance abuse creating a spiral of self-destruction.


Getting Priorities Right: A Path to Recovery


What is most important to you?


Is it the work you do or is it the relationship with your loved ones?


Avoid letting others make you feel that your priorities have to be the same as theirs. Not everyone is obligated to feel 150 percent devoted to their career. There are other paths to follow that are equally if not more rewarding. On the matter of getting your priorities in order, you were most likely exposed to an idea that income and possessions are keys to success from a very young age simply by the virtue of living in a consumer driven society. These messages are powerful and reinforced daily. Moreover, many people seemingly allow themselves to believe these messages with few questions asked.


However, many studies have found happiness and success are less likely to be associated with income and possessions than is commonly taught and believed by this highly materialistic culture. It is quite the contrary in fact. Many possessions may contribute to well-being. However, well-being levels don’t rise exponentially with an increase in wealth and possessions, but tend to level off regardless of what we come to have once we get over the threshold of simply having enough.


How to Say NO Respectfully?


Learning to say no doesn’t mean you should never go that extra mile. But, when you have a consistent tendency to never say no and find yourself going the extra hundred miles, you could be storing up a large amount of stress just waiting to burn you out at some point. If saying no involves speaking with your manager, you can do so respectfully and assure him or her that this doesn’t diminish your commitment, but that you feel you are at risk. You may need to rehearse and think deeply about how you can express what you want to say to make the most impact rather than leave it to a chance.


Of course, you must be realistic about what to expect from your employer. You can’t expect the same remuneration from your employer if you work less, but you must take control and determine how much less you can live on. No one can decide for you that your health, well-being and sanity are more important than your income. It is up to you.


Separate Yourself from Your Job


Move away from the deeply ingrained notion that your job is who you really are. If in your mind you have convinced yourself that you are identified with your job, you will struggle to put your work into perspective.


The notion that we are what we do is extremely deep-seated in certain cultures and in many parts of the world. It manifests itself in the language we use when we say: “I’m a nurse”, or when we innocently ask: “What do you do?”, giving an indication that your job is what you do and nothing else. Whereas, in reality, we do many, many things. We are and can infinitely be more than what we happen to do for a living.


So, don’t limit your perception of who you are by what you do. Don’t frame your identity around the way you make money for a living. Having an awareness that you are more than your job makes it easier to control your work, rather than letting it to control you.


Share Your Feelings


If you feel you may be at risk for burnout, talk to someone who can help. Take time to think about your priorities and how to reduce the hours you work. Be prepared to make changes. If necessary, find another job. Based on the most recent research findings, burnout is well-known as a condition. However, more support and counseling are needed for those feeling the energy sapping effects of what has, up until recently, been a largely invisible disease.

If you are looking for the Best Nursing Agency in London Ontario, our healthcare professionals can help.

How a Positive Physical Environment Improves Employee Well-being

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Employee well-being is a key aspect to creating a productive healthcare workplace.


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Improving employee well-being creates happier and healthier employees who are more likely to want to remain with the company. If you want to save your business money, it makes sense to focus on employee well-being. One important aspect of employee well-being is a physical environment. Studies have shown that the physical environment of the healthcare facility, as well as the employee’s own workspace, can directly affect employee well-being. If the physical environment is uncomfortable, cramped, or difficult to move around in, employee well-being will be impacted.


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On the other hand, if the physical environment is inviting, spacious and easy to move around in, employee well-being will improve. Healthcare managers who focus on improving the physical environment of the healthcare unit space report that employee well-being can dramatically shift for the better.


Here are the four most important factors to consider when planning a healthy physical environment to improve employee well-being.


Fresh Air


Employee well-being suffers when employees have to breathe stale air all day long. Many healthcare environments do not allow windows to be opened. While this makes sense from one point of view, it also means that healthcare providers are not being exposed to fresh air on a regular basis. Make sure that you encourage your employees to stand up and walk outside to get some fresh air. Paradoxically, smokers in the healthcare facility may actually suffer from lack of fresh air less, since they periodically go outside to smoke. Non-smokers should remind themselves to get fresh air, either by setting an alarm or by rewarding themselves after finishing a specific task.


Natural Light


While it may not be possible to assign every healthcare provider across from or next to the window, all employees should at least have a view of a window. They should be able to see natural daylight and preferably a pleasant view (although this depends on the healthcare facility’s location). Employee well-being can plummet when employees work in artificial light with no access to windows. It gets even worse when the employees have to strain their eyes to complete a certain task due to inadequate lighting.




Nobody likes to be watched all the time. Employees who sit too close to others in the workstations complain that they feel cramped. Healthcare providers should be able to have a conversation in a normal tone of voice without getting a feeling that everyone is listening to them. They should also be able to work on their computer charting in privacy. A sense of privacy helps healthcare providers maintain their dignity and feel respected. This is extremely important to employee well-being.


Personal Control


Many healthcare facilities have stringent rules regarding the types of items employees may or may not place on their workstations. While employees should be discouraged from cluttering up their workspace or placing inappropriate items in public view, complete lack of control over the environment can have a negative effect on employee well-being. People who are not allowed to personalize their workspace tend to feel less relaxed and to express less loyalty to their employer.


These four factors all contribute to employee well-being. If you are in charge of implementing physical changes in your workplace, start by focusing on what you can change right away. For example, if your workplace is dark and cramped, you can at least put up attractive dividers in the workstations to allow privacy, and you can use full-spectrum light bulbs to simulate natural light. You can also put some potted plants around the unit.


Make sure that you track employee well-being before and after you make any changes. Sometimes, healthcare managers are reluctant to set aside funding for physical changes in the workstation if they are unconvinced that employee well-being will actually be improved. By tracking the improvements in employee well-being, you can lay the ground for costlier improvements in the future.


If you address all of the four factors mentioned above, you should see concrete evidence of improved employee well-being in the following six areas:


1. Greater overall job satisfaction.

2. Fewer sick calls.

3. Less on-the-job stress.

4. A boost in productivity.

5. A reduction in staff turnover.

6. Higher commitment to the company.


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Employee well-being is not just another buzzword. Improving the physical environment where your employees work is a smart business move that will benefit your bottom line. If you want happy, healthy employees who are loyal to the company and are consistently productive, focus on improving employee well-being through a positive physical environment.

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