Are Your Leaders Burning Out Your Employees?

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization classified Burn-Out as an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress. The phenomenon is characterized by the following symptoms[1]:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance, negativity or cynicism toward one’s job; and
  • Reduced professional efficacy

This has detrimental effects on both the employee’s mental wellbeing and the organization’s bottom line. Each burnt-out employee has been estimated to cost the organization 34% of their respective annual salary. In total, burnout costs the economy $300 billion per year in absenteeism, accounts for an estimated 20-50% of turnover, and represents between $125-$190 billion each year in healthcare costs in the US alone![2]

Any forward-looking organization will realize the costs posed to the business from burn-out far outweigh the costs of addressing it. The difficult part is identifying what causes burnout and knowing what actions to take before it develops into a pressing and expensive issue.

This article focuses on bad leadership, which has been identified as one of the causal factors of burnout in organizations. Put simply, poor leaders are far more likely to cause stress than reduce it during difficult and stressful times – whether due to incompetence, poor management skills, questionable ethics or even abusive practices[3]. This facilitates the development of burnout symptoms in employees regardless of industry or context[4][5][6].

Developing effective leaders should therefore be a priority in any workplace, whether they are suffering from employee burnout or not. Prioritizing leadership development will not only reduce burnout symptoms in existing sufferers, but also prevent said symptoms from emerging in employees in the first place.

The good news is this doesn’t have to be difficult, or even expensive. MultiRater Survey platform provides a cost effective, streamlined way to conduct 360-degree leadership surveys which can identify strengths and developing areas in leaders from all perspectives within the organization. This feedback can be used to develop leaders consistent with employee and business requirements – at less than the price of a coffee per day.

Psychometric Assessments are another scientifically valid, cost-effective method of selecting and developing effective leaders. High-performance benchmarks identify the critical success attributes required of successful leaders, and candidates can have their assessment results compared to these benchmarks to identify their fit to the leadership position in succession planning contexts. These comparisons can also be used to identify areas to be developed.

The science is clear – bad leaders lead to burnout. The benefits of developing leaders far outweigh the cost of inaction, and modern People Analytics make it easier and more cost effective than ever to achieve this. Start today to nip burnout in the bud!

[1] World Health Organisation. (2019). Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. Retrieved from

[2] Borysenko, K. (2019). Burnout Is Not An Officially Diagnosable Condition: Here’s What You Need To Know About It. Forbes. Retrieved from

[3] Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2019). To Prevent Burnout, Hire Better Bosses. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

[4] Shanafelt, T.D., Gorringe, G., Menaker, R., Storz, K.A., Reeves, D., Buskirk, S.J., Sloan, J.A., & Swensen, S.J. (2015). Impact of Organizational Leadership on Physician Burnout and Satisfaction. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 90(4), 432-440. Retrieved from ClinicalKey.

[5] Mo, S., & Shi, J. (2017). Linking Ethical Leadership to Employee Burnout, Workplace Deviance and Performance: Testing the Mediating Roles of Trust in Leader and Surface Acting. Journal of Business Ethics, 144(2), 293-303. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-015-2821-z

[6] De Hoogh, A., & Den Hartog, D. (2009). Neuroticism and Locus of Control as Moderators of the Relationships of Charismatic and Autocratic Leadership with Burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(4), 1058-1067. DOI: 10.1037/a0016253