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Engaged Employees are Experiencing Burnout

By Michele Hellebuyck, MHA Program Manager

Can too much engagement affect job performance?

Findings from a recent study conducted by Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, in collaboration with the Faas Foundation, found that employers are overlooking the health of their most valued employees.

Almost 1 of 5 of employees in the study were “highly engaged” but were experiencing exhaustion. A third of employees were moderately engaged and exhausted. Despite feeling dedicated to their work, these individuals experienced frustration, stress, and indifference. They also consider leaving their workplace.

For employers, this data is alarming. It shows that they are at risk of losing some of their most skilled and hardworking employees. The study also highlights the need to look at how work demands and office resources impact engagement. Fifty percent of employees who profiled as completely “engaged” worked at jobs with high resources (supervisor support, reward and recognition, and self-efficacy), and low demands (workload, bureaucracy), while 84 perecent of “burned-out” employees worked in low resource, low demand jobs.

In MHA’s 2017 Mind the Workplace report, we found that employees in healthy workplaces were significantly more likely to feel like they were recognized and rewarded for performing their job well, received the support of their supervisors, and were not hindered by trivial activities. As a result, employees experienced lower levels of workplace stress, held more positive views about their workplaces and had less of a desire to leave their jobs. In other words, having recognition and supervisor support helped to buffer against workplace stress and burnout.

Employers can increase engagement by providing employees with encouragement and support. To ensure that engagement does not lead to exhaustion, workers should have adequate tools and the independence to do their job without disrupting workflow. When resources are lacking and/or demand is too high employees will experience higher levels of stress and decreased productivity. Improving workplace health by increasing support and employee capacity can improve work culture, engagement, productivity, and ultimately innovation.

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