Burnout at the workplace

We often associate career burnout with being over-challenged or neglectful to self-care —not taking enough trips, me time, or adequate moments with friends and family. While those are all important to a healthy lifestyle pattern, it isn’t a root cause. Burnout if not correctly identified can be misinterpreted with a superficial remedy holding little long term relief.

Moreover, while burnout can result from the long term inability to say NO or greater demand of work without the human bandwidth to keep up, burnout can just as much manifest due to the repetition of tasks that its operator has outgrown and now, just not enough.

According to the US National Library Of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Burnout is a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. The three key dimensions of this response are overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. The significance of this three‐dimensional model is that it clearly places the individual stress experience within a social context and involves the person’s conception of both self and others.

Many companies today from Google in San Francisco to WIX in Israel incorporate a strong sense of wellness to the daily experience and mental state of mind their employees operate. From outdoor / indoor recreational areas, breathable open concept workspaces, bringing your dog to work and daycare for your kids. These are all meaningful conditions to boost brand morale and a solid attempt at reducing employee stress levels, but it does not eradicate the likelihood for a burnout.

What it essentially serves; is the purpose of alleviating an employees’ stress level with the convenience of momentary breaks to recoup, refresh and return with greater concentration and energy in hopes of boosting productivity. However, if an employee is not being challenged enough with why they’re there and in the right ways, all of the bean bags in the world won’t boost productivity.

As a matter of fact, in 1957, McGill University psychology professor Donald Hebb paid college students to lie on a bed in a room the size of a cubicle, day and night. They wore fogged glasses, cotton gloves, and a U-shaped pillow around their heads to muffle sounds.

The subjects intended to study became restless, distractible, and irritable. Nearly all of them reported an inability to think clearly for any length of time. One participant explained that “something seemed to be sucking my mind out through my eyes.” Indeed, the subjects’ performance on simple cognitive tests was worse than a control group’s. Hebb planned for the experiment to run six weeks, but no one lasted longer than a week.

Sustained boredom, Hebb found, is bad for us and as it turns out, boredom and burnout are correlated. Modern psychology agrees: When we’re bored, sums a recent study, our judgment, goal-directed planning, risk assessment, focus, and control over our emotions suffer.

When we’re bored our judgement, goal-directed planning, risk assessment, focus and control over our emotions suffer.

It is essential to recognise, burnout is a lonely place since it prohibits an employee from operating at his or her fullest potential with the integrity, intelligence and energy that defines contribution and self-worth. The lack to any part of this fuels frustration, resentment, under-appreciated feelings and depleted mental tolerance even when giving it all we’ve got; even after taking trips and having spa days. 

Here are some proactive questions to ask yourself in reducing the risk of a burnout:



Is this as good as it’s going to get from here on out? Has the work I’ve done reached its maturity and now require a transition of daily repetition? Am I the person for this?


Here you’ll take a strategic and insightful look at your lifestyle and determine if you need to make significant lifestyle changes to develop a mindset that is more focused and disciplined. Working with a Career Councillor or Mentor is a good source to lean on. Not being able to align your thoughts can create unnecessary mental burdens that have the power to derail the best of intentions.


If you’ve reached a point where you are comfortable with the level of efficiency and understanding of your current role and believe without a doubt you and the company can benefit from the expansion of growth in skills and mindset, then speak up. It may be time to have the talk with your boss and share your openness to promotion, learning and taking on more significant challenges.


This is one most people tend to consider first but should be the last. Test the waters and see what’s happening. Look up internal company openings and new developments that may better meet your growth needs. Call your recruiter to find out about, up and coming opportunities or learn about new trends to prepare your outreach strategy. Reach out to your mentors for advice. Take control of the situation head-on and do not wait for it to burn you out into a dangerous place or desperate decision.

Thank you for reading, Remember, you cannot fix what’s broken with fillers, but you can try to identify the root of your situation. Experiencing a burnout is a tough place to land and requires significant mental and physical therapy to recoup and recalibrate your focus and energy. It also requires the support of the people close to you as well as those of your company.

Share your career questions with me!

Thank You for reading!


  • Nerissa J. Persaud

    Founder and CEO

    Ignite The Human Spark

    Nerissa J. Persaud is a Guyanese-Canadian Entrepreneur, Writer, Personal Development Coach, Mental Health Advocate and Mother to two. For over ten years, she has been at the forefront of building relations, leading talent acquisition strategies, unlocking and aligning potential. Nerissa is committed to improving mental well-being, productivity and resilience in the workplace and beyond.

    Described as “a challenger to how we ordinarily think,” Nerissa has dedicated her professional life with the firm belief we all have something meaningful to contribute; further supporting the ideas and conversations to bridge the gaps.