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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-4


General Manager-Medical & OHS, Siemens Ltd. Kalwa Works, Thane Belapur Road, Thane-400601, India

Correspondence Address:
G K Kulkarni
General Manager-Medical & OHS, Siemens Ltd. Kalwa Works, Thane Belapur Road, Thane-400601
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.22887

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How to cite this article:
Kulkarni G K. Burnout. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2006;10:3-4

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni G K. Burnout. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2006 [cited 2021 Jul 26];10:3-4. Available from:

Burnout is not a new syndrome, its existence can be traced back to collection of poems attributed to William Shakespeare and published 1599 as "The passionate Pilgrim". The problem of Burnout has come to the forefront during last 30years. In1974 Freudenberger described "Staff Burnout " as syndrome of exhaustion, disillusionment and withdrawal in voluntary health workers. There is no generally accepted definition of Burnout to date however most authors agree that Burnout syndrome includes following three dimensions, i.e., Emotional exhaustion, Depersonalization and reduced Personal accomplishments. Burnout is persistent, negative, work-related state of mind in "normal" individuals that is primarily characterized by exhaustion, which is accompanied by distress, a sense of reduced effectiveness, decreased motivation, and development of dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors at work. This psychological condition develops gradually but may remain unnoticed for long time by the individual involved. It results from misfit between intentions and reality in the job. Often Burnout is self-perpetuating because of inadequate coping strategies that are associated with the syndrome.

Why now that burnout has become more important issue for discussion? It is important to look at what changes are taking place world over. About 45% of populations over 10 years of age belong to global workforce. Their work sustains the economic development of the society that is critically dependant on their working capacity. Approximately 30 to 50% of workforce is exposed to psychological over load at work resulting in occupational stress or Burnout. Rapid change of the modern working life is associated with increasing demands of learning new skills, need to adopt to new types of work, pressure of higher productivity and quality of work, time pressure and hectic jobs are increasing stress among the workforce. In our own country liberalization, privatization and globalization has ignited mergers, acquisitions, and precarious employment has critically affected the domestic industry. The effect is closures, voluntary retirements, uncertainty in employment, reduced employment opportunities that has resulted in increased psycho - social stress in the working community. The increasing rush and tear of working life produces money: however it costs society both harmony and health. The increasing difficulty in integrating working life with family life globally has caused imbalance in financial capital, social capital and Health capital.

After considering the work environment factors let us examine what could be organizational impact of Burnout. To my mind the outcome shall be decreased productivity, poor quality of products, low morale, increased staff turnover rates, increased absenteeism rates, increased workers compensation claims, increased injury frequency rates and increased demand on Occupational health, Safety and Counseling services. Burnout population can become addicted to alcohol and Drugs, least to say about other stress related illnesses, which affects this population. Burnout affects people in helping profession but in today's global village no profession is truly spared from burnout. European member states have reported Burnout prevalence of 29% as compared to 38% and in UK. and 75% of US workers admit that their jobs are stressful and pressure of work is steadily increasing.

Hence the third factor that merits dealing with Burnout is the Cost factor to the organization. It is estimated that in US occupational stress costs employers in excess of US $200 billion per year. Indian scenario firstly we must introspect how serious is Burnout problem in our workforce? Our conservative estimate is that in India the Burnout prevalence could be 23% to 30%. Workforce affected with Burnout can present with physical, affective, cognitive behavioral and motivational symptoms in varied combinations. Burnout syndrome that has immense economic and psychosocial impact on the organization and the wok force need to be prevented. But the question is how one does that? One needs to focus on individual, individual / organization and the organization itself. Interventions could be in the form of stress audit, promoting healthy life style, Rational emotive therapy, and relaxation techniques. At interphase level one can attend to Time management, Inter personal skill training, Balancing work life and Family life, Peer support, and professional counseling. The most important strategy is aimed at the organization level by initiating organizational development, process that shall address issues of career, job content, conflict management, decision making retraining and institutionalization of Occupational Health. It is beyond the scope of this editorial to list out all the strategies to combat Burnout and as such there is no general recipe. The attempt is to make people and organizations aware of Burnout as an important organizational Health issue to be kept on the top agenda. The focus must be on the organizational development and Occupational health service must play major role as facilitator, listening and help center for Burnout group.

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