Image of woman with burnt out candle for a head representing workplace burnout

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that it now recognises “burn-out” as a medical diagnosis for the first time.

As specialist lawyers acting exclusively for claimants who have contracted an occupationally induced industrial disease we are always interested in any new disorder being recognised as diagnosable.

Therefore, we were very interested to hear the significant news that The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that it now recognises “burn-out” as a medical diagnosis for the first time.

Listed in the agency’s handbook of medical diagnoses, which guides health professionals around the world, the WHO clarifies that burnout isn’t a synonym for stress and is actually the result of long-term chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed by the sufferer or their employer.

We believe that the classification of ‘burnout’ as a medical diagnosis represents an important step for employees’ health and mental health.

Recognising and taking seriously the associated health risks of burnout and prioritising the observation of employees for signs of ‘burnout’ is imperative as there is always a reason for ‘burnout’ and there is more than likely a stage where it can be prevented.

So, what is ‘Burnout’?

Many see ‘burnout’ as epidemic in an age where everything has become about productivity and people feel overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. Where there is no security in the workplace and the cost of living is soaring, never mind the constant demand in our culture to be available 24/7.

It’s not that surprising that more and more people are experiencing feels of exhaustion, reduced professional worth and disillusionment with their job.

Burnout is diagnosed if someone is experiencing feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from, or feelings of, negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; or reduced professional efficiency.

As well as stifling professional lives ‘burnout’ can impact our lives outside of the workplace causing a multitude of physical ailments, anxiety and insomnia.

Thankfully over recent years there has been a change in how employers prioritise their employees’ health and wellness.

And that’s certainly good news as those employers who chose to prioritise and tackle ‘burn out’ will reap the benefits. The consequences of ignoring employees’ health and wellness can be wide reaching impacting a businesses’ productivity, business performance, employee engagement and absence rates.

Even if an employee isn’t absent they will be less productive, and their behaviour will impact their colleagues.

And if they are absent it could lead to a period of extended sick leave or the employee even resigning, both of which can seriously impact on a business, their clients and all their employees and can even give the business a reputation as an employer with a high employee turnover making it unlikely to appear as an employer of choice.