The Burnout Challenge: Managing People’s Relationships with Their Jobs

Harvard Univ. Nov. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780674251014. $27.95. BUS
Psychologists Maslach and Leiter follow up their book The Truth About Burnout with this guide to the causes of burnout and how organizations and employees can make changes to prevent it. The reality is that only a mere 20 percent of workers are fully engaged with their jobs, and the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. Organizational pressures such as cutting costs, downsizing, and overwork lead to burnout, defined as a combination of exhaustion, cynicism, and a feeling of ineffectiveness. Many view burnout as a problem with the individual, or even a mental health issue; the authors point out, however, that in 2019, the World Health Organization defined burnout as an occupational phenomenon, not a medical one. The authors propose that the way to prevent or ameliorate burnout is by addressing the mismatches between the workplace and the worker, which can fall into six areas: work overload, lack of control, insufficient rewards, breakdown of community, absence of fairness, and value conflicts. They apply their research alongside real-life examples to provide insightful strategies for both individuals and organizations to avoid burnout.
VERDICT This book proposes a thoughtful approach to tackling a common and serious workplace problem.
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