Burnout at Work: How to Spot and Address It

Available for Interviews: Dr. Pete Loper

Dr. Pete Loper, MD, MSEd, FAAP, is a triple board-certified physician in pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry. He is also a professor and executive coach and is dedicated to mental health and wellness advocacy.

What Dr. Loper could say on
Workplace Burnout:

By definition, burnout consists of three specific symptoms that occur together and strictly in the professional environment: cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and loss of professional efficacy.  To meet the criteria for “burnout,” you have to be experiencing all three symptoms.  If you are only experiencing one or two of these symptoms, it may be something else.

1) Burnout

  1.  “This job is awful, the people I work with are awful, and the company I work for is the worst.” Cynicism is apparent in consistent, ongoing negative thoughts and feelings about aspects of a job or a professional experience.
  2.  “I am wiped out.” Emotional exhaustion is defined as stress and overwhelm that results in physical and emotional depletion.
  3.  “I can’t get anything done. I’m so unproductive.” Loss of professional efficacy is a feeling of lack of accomplishment or productivity, or even a general feeling of incompetence, in responsibilities or tasks related to work.

2) How to spot it

You can spot burnout by looking for avoidance, withdrawal, or acting out behaviors.  These behaviors may include tardiness to work, missing important meetings or deadlines, or frequent absences from work.  Those suffering from burnout may often present as disengaged or unmotivated. They may frequently complain about their work, their clients or customers, their coworkers, their boss, or their organization.  They often present as irritable, frustrated, or angry, and they often struggle with relating to others in a professional manner.

3) How to take action

Engage in self-care. Person-centered burnout interventions include the following:
    1. Get a development coach to support adaptive problem solving
    2. Get communication training to improve verbal and nonverbal communication
    3. Seek counseling or psychotherapy
    4. Practice good sleep hygiene
    5. Limit alcohol use
    6. Engage in meditation and mindfulness practices
    7. Exercise regularly
Stop the spread. Organization-centered burnout interventions:
    1. While self-care is important, burnout is not simply due to a deficiency in individual self-care; it is an organizational issue and is due to a deficiency or dysfunction in the system or work environment.  Therefore, burnout is contagious and spreads quickly through a unit, department, division, or organization.
Hold your organization accountable for these organizational interventions. This includes:
    1. Task restructuring and decreased work demands
    2. Increased employee autonomy and decision-making power
    3. Clarification of roles and expectations
    4. Cultivating supportive work relationships
    5. Committing to improving work climate (and culture)
    6. Implementing performance-based incentives


Interview: Dr. Pete Loper

Dr. Pete Loper began his undergraduate studies in English at Kenyon College prior to completing his premedical coursework and Bachelor of Arts at the University of South Carolina (U of SC).  He earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, and his Master of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.  Following medical school, Dr. Loper completed a residency in pediatrics. He then worked as a pediatrician in a private practice setting while completing a second residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry.  He has also completed the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Psychoanalytic Fellowship Program and the Teleos Leadership Institute’s Coach Development Program.

Dr. Loper has been featured in numerous academic publications and media outlets and it is through these channels that he can dedicate his time to being an advocate for mental health and wellness.

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

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