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You Can Beat Burnout AND Build Your Bottom Line

Written by: Paul DeChant, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


We all experience burnout to one degree or another. Most people have a number of misconceptions about burnout. Once you understand what burnout actually is and what drives it, you can create lasting change in your workplace that empowers your people to design a workplace they love while actively supporting enterprise-wide success.

What’s it like where you work?

Do you:

  • leave work each day with an empty inbox, all your “to-do’s” done, looking forward to an evening devoted to family, friends, and activities that fill your spirit;

  • then arrive the next morning to be greeted by smiling co-workers who are refreshed and ready to do their part to be sure all team members have a great day,

  • knowing you have the people, supplies, and equipment you need to confidently manage the day’s assignments?

Or is your experience more like this?

  • You arrive at work already tired (from doing email till the wee hours just trying to catch up),

  • open your inbox to find it’s overflowing with new demands on your already overbooked schedule,

  • your co-workers equally stressed out,

  • needed supplies on backorder, and

  • the printer is jammed once again.

How can anyone succeed in a workplace like that?

And yet, what do you do? If you’re like me, you may blame yourself, thinking if only:

  • I was smarter (reading a book a week)

  • I took better care of myself (got eight hours of sleep and 45 minutes of exercise, spent 20 minutes meditating, and ate the proper vegan-paleo-fat burning diet)

  • I didn’t procrastinate on games or social media

If only I did all that, then I could handle the challenges, and I wouldn’t be so burned out.

The thing is, it’s not you. BURNOUT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!

The Problem With Burnout Is the Workplace, Not the Worker

Over the past 20 years, the challenges in the workplace have increased relentlessly. Who doesn’t face demands to improve productivity? To do more with less? To deal with the strategic challenge of competitors who are developing a better mousetrap or killer app? All while dealing with rapid changes in workplace design, software platforms, reporting relationships, and corporate ownership.

Burnout, according to the World Health Organization, is classified as an occupational phenomenon and defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job, and

  • reduced professional efficacy.

Christina Maslach, PhD, one of the world’s leading experts on burnout, has defined six workplace drivers of burnout:

  • Work overload – most of us work in time-pressured, chaotic environments that are further impacted by information overload

  • Lack of control – when we are overloaded, it’s harder to maintain a sense of control in our work environment. As knowledge workers, control is an intangible reward we look for when we enter our profession.

  • Insufficient reward – in addition to control, other rewards we look for include fair financial compensation, recognition for a job well-done, and collegiality with our co-workers.

  • Breakdown of community – collegiality and community are harder to achieve in a fast-paced remote work environment. When we are stressed and disconnected, we wonder if everyone has it this tough, or if we are being treated unfairly.

  • Absence of fairness – as the workforce is changing, many of us deal with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Compensation and promotion should be based solely on merit, not on attributes that we have no control over such as gender, race, or nation of origin. Fairness issues raise questions of values.

  • Conflicting values – when your company’s values conflict with your own, the disconnect may feel subtle, but over time can become a significant personal and moral challenge.

Linking Burnout’s Drivers and Manifestations to Guide Change

Dr. Maslach has also demonstrated that the drivers of burnout directly connect with the manifestations of burnout.

Work overload drives exhaustion. No surprise here. But most people think that’s basically all there is to understanding burnout. You’re working too hard, and you’re exhausted.

What many people don’t yet understand is that the other five drivers of burnout drive depersonalization, which manifests as cynicism and disengagement. Often, burnout is not due to overwork, but due to a lack of empowerment and alignment. These five drivers underpin organizational culture.

Once you understand this, you can apply these basic concepts to design an approach to reducing burnout and enhancing empowerment, alignment, and well-being for your team or your entire organization.

Over the next year, I’ll be sharing a five-step process that any organization can use to reduce burnout by identifying and addressing the drivers of burnout in your organization.

Every organization is unique, so this is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. It starts by diagnosing the drivers of burnout in your organization, developing a plan that specifically addresses those drivers, including personal well-being support, workflow improvement, and management system and culture change.

Done with intention, you can beat burnout and build your bottom line. I know. I’ve done it as the CEO of a 300-physician medical group. And you can do it too.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Paul DeChant, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Paul DeChant, MD, MBA is passionate about making workplaces better places to work. He is uniquely positioned to support your organization’s efforts to reduce team member burnout and enhance professional fulfillment while creating a culture of organizational well-being and resilience.

Dr. DeChant is an experienced CEO, leadership coach, keynote speaker, author, and recognized expert on management system and culture improvement, with a proven five-step process to identify, treat, and prevent burnout for your team members and your organization.

He is a knowledgeable and dynamic presenter who engages audiences all over the world with his unique perspective on addressing burnout’s root causes, providing you with new insights and opportunities to address one of the most significant challenges in business today.

Always prepared with relevant content, he also brings humor and a contagious passion for making a difference in the work lives of all people, from the front-line production or service worker to the most seasoned C-suite executive.



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