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Disengaged, burned-out workers cost the United States and Canada upwards of $550 billion a year says Brad Stulberg in his recent article called “The United States of Burnout” for Thrive Global. The article discusses how the advent of mobile devices has made it difficult for people to disconnect from work and also points to how this has perpetuated a “costly epidemic of burnout” 1. Throughout his piece, Stulberg consults various studies and polls in order to show that 27% of Americans and Canadians work too long, at all hours of the day, and on weekends and that this leaves 40% of office workers in the U.S. and Canada feeling burned out.

Burnout is when you experience chronic fatigue which can then lead to “an inability to focus, irritability, anxiety, and sleep disturbances” and it can even lead to psychosis like clinical depression 1. The irony is that people are forcing themselves into a state of burnout in order to keep productivity flowing but, as Stulberg reveals, this is actually counter-productive. “Burnout and underperformance go hand-in-hand,” in other words, constant connectivity to work is actually costing workplaces productivity, an estimated $300 billion in sick time, replacement of 50% of burned-out workers, and this doesn’t include the whopping $450-550 billion in lost productivity, annually 1. And, of course, burnout’s true cost is to workers who are endangering their own mental and physical health. Stress, according to Mayo Clinic can lead to a plethora of side effects including chest pains, anxiety, sleep problems, and social withdrawal. If you are feeling burned out and the effects of stress then it’s time for a change.

Stulberg’s piece is a call to action, but not an easy one to implement. Reducing burnout will require reducing work hours, reducing connection via wireless devices, and reducing commitments. Change of this kind will require a paradigm shift in the way we perceive the work/life balance where “life” will have to precede “work” and we’ll all have to learn to unplug for a little while.

For more information you can read the original article here:

1. Brad Stulberg’s “The United States of Burn-out” [return]