Preventing Burnout

A wealth of research on job burnout has confirmed that many things contribute to that syndrome of exhaustion, cynicism, and discouragement. Many of those factors lie beyond the control of individual employees. However, individuals can take action that can make a difference.

Monitoring. The core dimensions underlying burnout are energy (exhaustion), involvement (cynicism), and efficacy. Reflecting on those three qualities on an ongoing basis provides a useful reference point. It would be great to have a chart on which to register your subjective assessments at the beginning, middle, and end of the workday.

Pacing. There is a limit to what one can do. Frist there is a limit to how much can be accomplished in day. Second, there is a limit to what a person can sustain day in and day out. Some jobs push people to the first limit of intense performance. Most jobs push people on what they can sustain on an ongoing basis.

Job Crafting. Despite limits to an individual’s control over the major parameters of a job, people always have some latitude. Actually, people often under-use the latitude that they have available to shape their jobs in a more compatible, sustainable way. Exploring those possibilities can be a fascinating experience.

Relationships. People can be the greatest resource to one’s work and also the greatest source of demands. Cultivating constructive, supportive relationships are essential to a fulfilling worklife. A practical strategy is to bring others into your plans for preventing burnout. There are no good reasons for going it alone and lots of good reasons for bringing others into the conversation.

Future posts will expand on these themes.

What works for you? Are there strategies that you have found effective in maintaining your engagement with work?


  1. Dear Dr. Leiter:

    For me, all issues you have mentioned are important, and I notice at work. In our culture, monitoring is not easy to apply, because people have the impression that monitoring is a matter of ¿How bad I’m doing my work? and not in the sense of ¿which progresses I’m doing today?. However, I think there’s no other way to enhace our selfsteem but monitoring.

    Heriberto Valdez

    1. Heriberto

      I agree that people so often focus on the negative side of monitoring even when monitoring themselves. It is so important to have a positive goal and to think of the project from that point of view.

      Thank you for your insight

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