Study identifies two reasons for burnout

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A new study conducted at the University of Zurich shows job burnout may be caused by a disconnect between an employee’s needs and the characteristics of his or her job.

This mismatch between personality and work environment makes people more prone to burnout. In other words, if you’re an outgoing person and your job inhibits your ability to socialise you’re more likely to suffer, according to the Swiss study.

Researchers defined burnout as an extended response to chronic stress. They found that a match between two of a person’s key needs and their work environment is more likely to prevent burnout.

One key aspect is affiliation, or the level of closeness in the job’s social relationships. The other is power, of the ability the employee has to influence and take responsibility for other staff members.

People who feel the need for affiliation should seek a job that allows them to interact with others, while people motivated by power should look for a role that gives them the opportunity to take on leadership responsibility.

The researchers also found that the study participants weren’t fully aware of the stress caused by a mismatch. They concluded that it is therefore a ‘hidden’ stressor that causes burnout. This stressor may also influence a number of physical symptoms reported by employees, such as headaches, stomach pain, dizziness, or sore throats.

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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson