Current Weather
The Spy FM

When Stress Takes Over, Employee Burnout Can Set In

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
September 1, 2013

As Labor Day honors American workers, stress weighs on many. A changing world — and therefore a changing workplace — has many employees on the job and staring at screens for hours upon hours. Some have reached a breaking point.

John Challenger, CEO of workplace consulting company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, diagnoses burnout. He tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden stress can manifest emotionally, mentally or physically. “It can be combined with doubts about your confidence or the value of the work you do,” he says.

Businesses can take a hit from burnout, too. At least one study indicates that U.S. businesses lose an estimated $300 billion a year to stress, according to the American Psychological Association.

The federal workforce is facing a particularly high turnover rate, according to Jeffrey Neal, who spent nearly 30 years working in human resources for the federal government.

“Federal employees have been beaten on pretty severely for the last several years. Federal employees haven’t gotten a pay raise in more than three years. They are constantly being used as a political football,” he says. “You’re hearing these constant attacks on the federal workforce, and people are reacting to that. You can only take so much of it before it breaks your spirit.”

Neal says federal retirements have increased every year for the last four years. Not only are older workers retiring more quickly, younger workers are also leaving.

“They’re coming in, taking a look around, and saying, ‘No, this isn’t really for me,’ ” Neal says. “So not only are we losing the most experienced people at the upper end of the age ranges, we’re losing a lot of the younger folks who really should be the future.”

Moreover, agencies like the Small Business Administration require a specific skill set that takes training and support. “You may find the agency’s ability to carry out its mission crippled by the lack of qualified personnel,” Neal says.

During his time with the government, Neal says he used words like “burnout” and “crush.”

“Because that’s what’s happening to folks. … You can crack down on a workforce, and they will perform, for a while,” he says. “And then the fatigue sets in. The frustration sets in. The anger sets in. And at some point, they just break. And then they leave.”

So what’s a company to do? Challenger says there may be some insight to gain from humans’ cyclical emotions.

“We stay in one place and grow to the point where, all of a sudden, things are just too much the same,” he says, “and there’s burnout and change has to occur.” [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

12AM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 6AM Living On Earth

Living On Earth

Living on Earth with Steve Curwood is the weekly environmental news and information program distributed by Public Radio International.

View the program guide!

6AM to 7AM On Being

On Being

On Being engages listeners across the spectrum of belief and non-belief in conversation about life's deepest questions. From autism to the ethics of torture, Krista and her guests reach beyond the headlines to probe faith and meaning, ethics and new ways of being, amidst the political, ecological, economic, cultural and technological shifts that define 21st century life.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center