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Employee Burnout And Sick Leave - What's The Connection?

What is the connection between employee burnout and sick leave in the workplace?

Burnout has been linked to several adverse outcomes, including absenteeism, job dissatisfaction, and turnover. One of the most significant outcomes of burnout is sick leave. This evidence based article will explore the connection between employee burnout and sick leave and examine the factors that contribute to the relationship.


Studies have consistently shown that burnout is strongly associated with sick leave. In a study conducted by Virtanen et al. (2015), researchers examined the association between burnout and long-term sickness absence among a sample of 18,681 employees in the Finnish public sector. The study found that employees who reported high levels of burnout were more likely to take long-term sick leave than those who reported low levels of burnout. The association between burnout and sick leave was particularly strong for mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.


Similarly, a study by Shirom et al. (2011) found that burnout was a significant predictor of sick leave among a sample of Israeli employees. The study followed 820 employees over a period of six years and found that burnout was a consistent predictor of sick leave. The study also found that burnout was more strongly associated with sick leave for mental health problems than for physical health problems.


Several factors contribute to the relationship between burnout and sick leave. One of the most important factors is the impact of burnout on physical and mental health. Burnout is associated with several physical health problems, including cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and gastrointestinal problems (Shirom, 2011).


Burnout can also lead to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, which can result in sick leave. Another factor that contributes to the relationship between burnout and sick leave is job demands. High job demands, such as excessive workload and time pressure, are strong predictors of burnout (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017). When employees experience high job demands, they may become overwhelmed and exhausted, leading to burnout and sick leave.


Job resources, such as social support and autonomy, can help mitigate the negative effects of job demands on burnout and sick leave (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017). Social support from colleagues and supervisors can help employees cope with stress and prevent burnout. Autonomy, or the ability to control one's work environment, can also help employees manage job demands and prevent burnout.


Organisational factors also play a role in the relationship between burnout and sick leave. Organisational culture and leadership can influence employee well-being and prevent burnout. A positive organisational culture that values employee well-being and provides support for work-life balance can help prevent burnout and reduce sick leave (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017). Leadership that promotes employee well-being and models healthy work practices can also prevent burnout and sick leave.


Burnout is a significant predictor of sick leave among employees. Burnout is associated with several adverse outcomes, including absenteeism, job dissatisfaction, and turnover. The relationship between burnout and sick leave is influenced by several factors, including the impact of burnout on physical and mental health, job demands, job resources, and organisational factors.


To prevent burnout and reduce sick leave, organisations can promote a positive organisational culture that values employee well-being and provides support for work-life balance.

Employee Burnout And Sick Leave - What's The Connection?


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