Burnout… It’s Everywhere… It’s Everywhere


Everywhere one turns today burnout is being pushed in our faces. It seems that everyone is suffering from burnout. If there was such a thing as a hospital burnout unit, it would be as crowded as what we have seen with the use of ICUs related to their being filled with COVID-19 patients.

But is burnout really that bad? I’ve been arguing that it is not. I have been arguing that most people who say they are burned out probably fail to meet the three criteria necessary to establish burnout syndrome.

This does not mean that people and employees (employees are, of course, people) today aren’t really feeling what they are feeling. It is not just in their head.

People today are exhausted, frustrated, angry, anxious and so forth. People aren’t burned out though. They are part of the exhausted majority. The majority used to be silent and called the silent majority. Today I would guess that the majority are still silent, so I would call the majority both silent and exhausted.

Employees are tired of doing more for less and people are tired of the political rancor, the failure to address long-standing societal issues, being told that someone else can run their life better than they can and so on.

Many of the silent and exhausted majority are suffering from ED — not erectile dysfunction, but rather Exhaustion Disorder. There was only one criteria for ED. Yep, you guessed it — experiencing physical and/or mental exhaustion.

I find it very interesting and enlightening to note that ED has been in the Swedish ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases — 10th Edition) since 2005 and has been the subject of nearly 90 research studies to date. But we never hear about it in the press or in business/ workplace information circle. Why is that?

All we hear about is burnout. In my view, burnout has become an overused, over saturated buzzword.

The solution to ED is simple and it doesn’t require a small blue pill. All we need to do is focus on and eliminate exhaustion.

We need to stop the messaging which says that we can have, be and do it all because we can’t. It is neither humanly or humanely possible.

We need to stop overloading people with too many things to do. We need to stop overloading employees through the application of the Do More With Less business philosophy of today. Over loading people/employees leads to feelings of overwhelm which is a huge depletion of mental energy and mental fatigue.

The challenge of course lies in how to operationalize or implement the solution to ED. The What is the easy part. The How is the challenge.

ED needs to become the focus in and out of the workplace. And who knows, if we can effectively and successfully address ED, we might even be able to reduce our dependence on the little blue pill, though Big Pharma might not be too happy with the result.




Bill McPeck has been involved as a leader and practitioner in employee health, safety, wellness and wellbeing for close to 30 years.

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William McPeck

William McPeck

Bill McPeck has been involved as a leader and practitioner in employee health, safety, wellness and wellbeing for close to 30 years.

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