What managers can do: Recognition reduces burnout risk

What managers can do: Recognition reduces burnout risk


The attitude of bosses towards the team plays a decisive role in determining whether the stress prevailing in many places leads to burnout. This is shown by researchers from several universities. […]

If employees feel rewarded according to their performance, the risk of work-related exhaustion is significantly lower. This is one of the key results of a study in which scientists from Goethe University Frankfurt, the Sigmund Freud Institute Frankfurt and the Chemnitz University of Technology were involved.

The scientists understand a performance-based reward as follows: “This means more than just adequate payment, the social recognition that people receive for their work is above all important,” explains Frankfurt social psychologist Professor Rolf Haubl.

For the study, almost 900 supervisors who advise profit and non-profit companies were asked about their assessment of the workload. These experts reported on stressful conditions: across all industries, the working conditions are such that many employees risk their mental health. In addition to their survey, the study authors also conducted 30 intensive interviews with supervisors. One reported on a company in which less than 100 accumulated overtime hours with top performers are seen as a sign that someone is not working properly.

The study results did not confirm a presumption repeatedly expressed in connection with overwork in the workplace. Employees do not react indifferently to their work if they feel overwhelmed at work, the study shows. The opposite is true.

“The vast majority of the respondents met employees in the organizations for whom work – still – has a meaningful function and who therefore suffer when they are forced to violate quality standards due to prevailing economic efficiency pressure,” says Chemnitz Professor Günther G. Voss. In most organizations, the intensity of work has clearly increased in recent years: work processes are being condensed and accelerated, and niches are being eliminated. In addition, the number of precarious and temporary employment relationships is increasing.

The surveyed supervisors also reported in the survey that employees are increasingly expected to do a lot today, for example, the balancing act between professionalism and cost reductions, for which they do not receive support from their employer. “And this either leads to risking one’s own health to the sighted eye in order to gain career advantages, or it demoralizes,” Haubl comments on the results.

If jobs are not health risks, as the World Health Organization demands in the Ottawa Charter, a change of attitude is needed, which is still a long way off in many places today, according to the professor.

The recommendation of the study initiators is: Employers should invest in the organizational culture in order to reduce the risk of burnout in the company. “In addition to performance-based reward as the most influential factor, it is particularly important to the behavior and attitude of superiors and colleagues,” says Professor Haubl.

Bosses who regarded their employees not only as cost factors, but as a workforce with productive skills that they sought to develop sustainably, protected against overwhelming working conditions as well as colleagues who behave reasonably in solidarity, according to the Frankfurt professor.

According to the study, things are still different at the moment: 62.7 percent of the respondents register that managers offer insufficient support and orientation. 53.3 Percent cannot see that the working atmosphere in the organizations is good.

Professors Rolf Haubl and Günter G. Voss have published the survey results under the title “Limits of professional Work – Risk factors for Work and Health”. For the study, 893 supervisors in profit and non-profit companies were asked how they currently perceive working conditions in the companies. Goethe University Frankfurt and Chemnitz University of Technology were involved in the survey. The study was funded by the German Society for Supervision.

*Andrea König has been writing for CIO.de . The focus of her work for the CIO editorial team are topics related to career, social networks, the future of work and book tips for managers. Working as a freelance writer for various editorial offices is no longer a full–time job – she works full-time as a PR consultant at a Hamburg communications agency.

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