The discussion of preventing or alleviating burnout has two major themes: improving the workplace or improving resiliency.
Strategies for improving resiliency work from the idea that people can increase their capacity to tolerate difficult circumstances. They can learn even to thrive in situations that were previously hard to bear.
The complementary strategy is improving the situation. By enriching the balance of resources to demands in a worksetting, an organization can evolve from aggravating burnout to actively promoting engagement.
The strategies help one another: enriched environments contribute to employees’ resiliency that in turn increases employees’ capacity to enrich their work environment. Strains arise when the balance between these strategies becomes lopsided.
Without initiative from employees, efforts to enrich a work environment have a limited impact. Effective interventions require active participation from employees. Also, programs to increase employee resiliency are more effective when the organization is actively working to improve the work context. Otherwise employees are simply developing their capacity to tolerate bad conditions.
Unilateral is not enough. Preventing burnout only works as a shared effort.