Is job burnout inevitable?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

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Are you destined for job burnout?

Job burnout is taking a huge toll. Despite not being a recognized mental illness, work-related burnout is a major reason people go out on disability. We have tried various approaches to this problem. Sometimes we blame the employer, too much work, too much stress, not enough staff to meet the challenges. Other times we blame the employee. If you have worked anywhere with a significant number of employees, you know some people arrive at work already stressed out before the workday begins. Maybe they have relationship problems, sick children or financial stress, whatever the reason some people arrive at work already stressed out.

At some work sites, everyone is stressed out.

In some occupations, people are burning out faster than new employees can be hired. Some interesting research has been done recently in China. As they moved to modernize their economy, burnout has been a significant issue. In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, bank workers were under significant work stress. It’s not customary to think of bank employees as likely to burn out, but in 2008 the burnout rate among Chinese bank employees reach seventy percent.

Repeatedly studies of social workers have reported burnout rates of more than fifty percent. One of the consequences of employee burnout is that the social worker becomes emotionally exhausted and tries to protect themselves by withdrawing emotionally from their clients. As the number of burned out employees increase, client satisfaction declines. One consequence of so many burned out human service employees is poor recovery rates among the clients they serve.

Why burnout doesn’t always result in high employee turnover.

Many of the professions with high burnout rates are highly paid but require advanced education. Doctors go through an incredible ordeal and accumulate a large amount of student loan debt. Social workers, counselors, and therapists, often have master’s degrees are Ph.D.’s. The process of continuing in school for six or eight years past high school can result in large student loan debt.

Careers that require long training periods and a large financial investment can trap burned out employees who must work for years to pay off financial debt. They may also be unable to move to a new occupation without taking a huge pay cut, resulting in additional financial and family stress. Burned-out workers who feel trapped and unable to change their employment become less productive, less cooperative with other staff, and are more likely to become detached from, and cynical about, the clients they work with.

High burnout rates may result in everyone being inexperienced.

In some occupations burnout results in higher than normal turn over. One survey of drug and alcohol counselors revealed that more than half of the counselors had been on the job for less than a year. Many public mental health facilities have a high number of recently graduated clinicians compared to the number of senior staff available to oversee their work.

Many clients experience multiple changes in the person providing their service. It’s hard to develop a good relationship between therapist and client when the therapist keeps changing.

Don’t let yourself become a victim of burnout.

High systemic rates of burnout suggest that there is not much an employer can do to prevent burnout among employees. Certainly, anything the employer can do to reduce employee burnout will benefit that employer. Employee assistance programs can be very helpful in letting employees resolve stressful issues. But keeping yourself from burning out is something everyone needs to make a priority for themselves. Don’t make the mistake of pushing so hard in the early stages of your career, that you burn out and don’t have a career.

In future posts let’s explore some ways you can prevent burnout from taking control of your life.

More posts about – Burnout.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at


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