What is burnout?

Burnout is the progressive loss of idealism, energy and purpose experienced by those in the helping professions as a result of conditions of their work.

Christina Maslach – social psychologist and specialist in occupational burnout


6 things that lead to burnout – Christina Maslach

  1. Excessive workload
  2. Perceived lack of control in work environment – asked to do things outside of skill set, not having back-up, lack of co-operation from others, unclear about responsibilities, insufficient training etc
  3. Insufficient sense of reward for work that is done
  4. Perceived sense of unfairness in systems (assignments, hours, favouritism, poor pay etc)
  5. Not feeling as if part of a community at work
  6. Sense that work is not congruent with personal or stated institutional value systems


How is burnout different from compassion fatigue?

  • People with compassion fatigue generally still like their jobs
  • People with compassion fatigue try to carry on providing care even though their personal reserves are depleted, while those with burnout tend to disengage from work
  • Recovery from burnout usually requires making substantial changes, such as taking a break, or finding new challenges. This may involve changing work location or working with different people
  • Self-care is compromised by compassion fatigue