Employee Dissatisfaction Leads to Burnout


Marshidha C K
Soft Skills Trainer
ICFAI National College


Burn out is the psychological condition of an employee brought about by the unrevieled work stress. Burnout happens due to several reasons some of them are work load, lack of control, unfairness, value conflict and insufficient reward. It is said that burnout is the loss of meaning in one's world. Due to prolonged stress and frustration the employees feel that their physical and emotional strengths are exhausted. This exhaustion will lead to low productivity, high employee turnover cost, and poor employee morale in an organization.. This burnout should not be treated lightly because this will burn the entire organization. Measures should be taken to overcome employee's burnout.


Can one realize what is the biggest difference between an employee who continues to work for an organization or for an employer and those who decide to leave voluntarily? The reason for their voluntary leave may not be the dissatisfaction with their immediate supervisor or even with their pay, but the reason may be because of what they feel in an organization or dissatisfaction with the job they are working on. The term, "employee dissatisfaction" is one of the hot topics discussed in all organizations. The reason for this might be that in the old days people stuck on to one job for their whole life. Now a day everything has changed, if the work atmosphere does not suit the mindset of the employee, he at once takes the decision and that will be resign the job and goes in search of more suitable work atmosphere. But the reason for this kind of exit from an organization should be evaluated.

Reasons for employee burnout

What are the main reasons for employee's dissatisfaction or frustration in an organization? This is not a new problem. It is an age-old situation in which no one took this matter as a serious issue because the employees were not much ambitious and they were happy with what they had. But things have changed. New employees are not happy with what they have and what they get; they are in search of new achievements and are more ambitious. One of the most important reasons highlighted for employee burnout is job stress. The nature of work is changing at whirlwind speed. Therefore, the employees are stressed and with the workload and this job stress poses threat to the health of workers and in turn the organization suffers. Job stress leads to physical illness like loss of appetite, restless sleep, and a complete sense of exhaustion. At the same time, he will also undergo emotional depression.  This state occurs when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resource and needs of the worker.

The Stress Factor

It is usual that we confuse with the concept of "job stress" with that of "challenge". These concepts are entirely different from each other. Challenges energize us physically and mentally and it motivates the employee to learn new skills and thus he masters his job. It is true that when we take up challenges we might be under stress but it is like what we say, 'a little bit of stress is good for health'. But the situation has changed and it is different when challenges are turned into job demands and when these demands are not met then relaxation becomes exhaustion and the sense of satisfaction turns into feelings of stress and thus the stage is set for illness, task failure and burnout.

The Appraisal Syndrome

A company's success mostly depends on the performance of the employee, and performance appraisal of employee should be conducted regularly which will lead to improvement of work quality. Inappropriately performed appraisals can also lead to employee burnout, which pave way to decline of work performance. A company's reluctance to give the right pay for the job also ends up in employee dissatisfaction. Employer should know what his employee is performing and he should be recognized according to his all-round performance.

The Lack of Respect

One of the complaints employees have is that they are not recognized by their organization for the work they do and they also feel that the organization does not respect and value their feelings, thoughts and emotions. This leads to higher level burnout. It is not just the job stress and workload that leads to employee depression and frustration but lack of respect can also cause burnout that will sap employee's motivation.  " I am recognized and valued for the job I do," says an employee who has been working in an organization for the last three years. Though she has a workload, which is cumbersome, she never feels frustrated or depressed because whatever efforts she puts to complete her job is recognized and she is been respected by the organization and this makes her feel more confident and happy. Once an employee is respected and recognized by the organization, the confidence inside him/her is doubled and is able to perform better. And this results in profitable outcome of the organization. When an organization breaches the trust employees place in it by treating them unfairly or without respect it causes disillusionment, dissatisfaction and rapid loss for the organization.

There is another side of the coin; the road truly travels both ways. Respect is a two way street. Employee should ensure that they have respect for the organization for which they are working for, and then the organization should reciprocate the same to its employees.

Signs for burnout

The employees sent out some signals to express their discontent and the organization shouldn't take it lightly:

1) Excessive absenteeism- when a regular employee suddenly begins to take leave or is late to work, it could indicate either his personal problems or job dissatisfaction.

2) Lack of interest- when an employee who stays at work until his job is done, now begins to leave at sharp 5 pm no matter his job is done or not.

3) Lack of quality and quantity in work- when an employee is dissatisfied in his job then automatically his mental state is reflected in his quality of his work.

4) Complaints by employee - many complaints are put forward by the employee regarding salary, benefits, working hours, working conditions etc.

5) Off the job work - misusing the company facility for his personal use during working hours.

6) Misbehavior- an employee may express anger, frequent argument with association and team member, which come out due to frustration.

Effects of burnout

Recognizing the dissatisfaction is only half the battle. The company should consider the reason for the burnout and should try to solve those problems because it will affect other employees also. Otherwise it will affect the company in many ways like

* Low productivity
* High employee turnover cost
* Poor employee morale

There may be some costs associated with employee turnover, which is unavoidable and occur in the normal course of business. When the employee's performance is below average and he doesn't contribute much for the organization because of his mental state, it may led to high loss of employee turnover. When the employee doesn't work up to the mark then the organization fails to meet the goal, thus the organization faces low productivity. When the employees are not recognized and valued by the organization then the employees morale becomes low or poor because he thinks that there is no use for him in working in that organization which will never recognize or value his job and thoughts. Thus, they automatically think that their working hard to meet the goals amounts to nothing, as the organization is not creating an atmosphere to work. So for low employee turnover cost, high productivity and to increase employee morale the organization should provide an environment that is conducive to employee growth and development. Employee burnout is not always a private matter. The employer should remember that employee tends to take up negative practices which would lead to low creativity and lower productivity far more quickly than they respond to positive reaffirmations. For a safer side the organization should provide an environment that is high on positive values. There should be a mutual understanding between employer and employee, who creates an environment with high level of trust and this will encourage a greater level of creativity and productivity. An organization is like a family. If there is an understanding and trust between the family members then automatically their family atmosphere will become peaceful and happy to live, but once the egos clash then everything is scattered like wise in the organization where employer and employee work as the members of a family should lead a life with cooperation and understanding between each other and once ego comes in between then arises problem in the organization which lead to organizational loss.

Measures to overcome burnout

Organization should treat employees with respect and consideration regardless of his status in the firm. The employer should take into consideration the employees feeling and thoughts and should try to have an open communication with employees, which helps in building trust between them. This trust would bridge the gap between the needs of the employee and the understanding of the employer.

The companies must know, what are the important drivers in a working environment that will motivate the potential employee to work for a company?, and what motivates the current employees to stay and perform their best for the organization? An employee joins an organization with great expectation and the company should try the level best to fulfill at least a portion of their expectations. Employees should be given a positive and supportive workplace. It is also important to recognize the contributions of the employee to the organization and it is not enough to tell him that he is appreciated for his input, but an environment should be created to encourage employees to develop and experiment their new ideas.

The organization may come across many problems, employer should try to seek the involvement of the employee in helping to solve the problems, and then they will feel that they are the decision makers in the organization. This will also help the employee to build confidence in him and should feel that his ideas are recognized and valued by the organization for which they are working. Money isn't the only factor that determines employee's job satisfaction, but it plays a key role. So companies should offer a fair and competitive salary and they should also be given the performance appraisal according to their work.

Organizations should also give importance to work-life balance. The employer should have a good interaction with the employee and they must work together to create beneficial work-life options. Organizational justice is one of the least understood and the most under utilized too for creating better workplace. The key word of organizational justice is fairness and equity. When the atmosphere of equity and integrity is created then the employee will be committed emotionally and they become workers who are less stressed and more willing to go the miles. Treat the employees with respect and appreciate their hard work. Once they are aware that the organization is truly interested in them, they will be far more committed to their work and would work sincerely for the success of the organization.


There are many reasons that lead to employee dissatisfaction as we discussed earlier but the question is why this dissatisfaction arises and how does this may lead to burn out. It is clear that the burnout happens due to unsatisfied employee environment. The organization should consider this as a serious matter and must take up measures to overcome these problems. If at all the organization fails to do so, then it will face many problems. Employees are the back bone of the organization and if it is broken onto pieces then the organization cannot stand erect, so the employees should be considered as the key players in an the organization.


* www.hinduonnet.com
* www.onrec.com
* www.maximizepossibility.com

Marshidha C K
Soft Skills Trainer
ICFAI National College

Source: E-mail March 17, 2008


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