The main causes of work pressure, is it responsible for burnout? : The causes of high work pressure are diverse. High work pressure leads to stress, anxiety, overload and burnout. The high workload is therefore often an important cause of long term absence. A solid burnout quickly costs €80,000

In this article, we show the main causes of work pressure. Likely you will already know what is written at the beginning of the article, although towards the end we will go into more detail of the depths of work pressure and burnout.

Relation work pressure and burnout (is work pressure responsible?)

Crowds, stress and deadlines, everyone has to deal with it in his or her career, right? These days, more and more employees are dropping out due to work burnout. This has a huge impact not only for the employee but also for the company and managers.

Always being pre occupied leads to stress

It can sometimes sound unbelievable that workload is the cause of the burnout. For example, you can perceive this very differently and you can get the feeling that the employee is getting involved. Nevertheless, it is important to correctly inform yourself before wrong conclusions are made.

Think that one of your employees is struggling with anxiety, stress or even burnout? This article can assist you.

Does hard work lead to burnout?

Work pressure the cause of burnout? Yes and no, work pressure and stress play the largest role in the development of a burnout, but there are many other factors that lend a hand. This way a burnout often occurs when there are problems both at work and at a personal level.

A stressful job in combination with a divorce can increase the pressure even more. Burnout is total exhaustion caused by a lack of autonomy. Life takes control of an employee so that he or she ultimately does everything to keep it up. The result is clear: loss and absenteeism.

When someone goes through a difficult time in his/her personal life and on top of that experiences stress at work, this can be the straw that breaks the camels back. In most cases, burnout is not only caused by work pressure; it is a combination of stressful factors. The cause can, therefore, be found in both private and work factors.


Read more >>Signs of burnout

Relation workload and burnout

Can you really not believe that the employee fails due to work pressure or stress? Burnout is always stress-related. In 9 out of 10 cases, stress at work has the greatest influence on the occurrence of burnout. Other factors also usually play a role that can influence the development of burnout.

Tragic personal events contribute to emergence. Has the employee recently lost a dear person, does he or she have problems at home or are there other personal problems? Then the burnout cannot be attributed 100% to the workload.

An article specifically for employers and managers who want to Increase employee resilience.

Is work pressure an illusion?

If the workload were so high, then more employees would have the same symptoms and issues? Why does one suffer burnout and the other not? This is a thought that plays a role with many employers. Work pressure and stress, that is part of it and is necessary for the best performance. However, the impact of work pressure should not just be brushed under the carpet. When someone has to deal with burnout, the workload is certainly too high. It is as if you would tell someone with food poisoning that the fish really wasn’t spoiled.

When an employee fails due to a burnout, a light should go on. As a supervisor, you may be asking too much from your people. The fact that someone who has the same function does not show any complaints does not mean that it is normal or healthy to work with so much stress. Do you want to prevent more employees from dropping out? Then it is important to pay more attention to the influence of work pressure and stress in the workplace.

That you as an employer do not experience the workload as drastically does not mean that it is not present. Burnout is always caused by a combination of factors, but stress is the main cause.

workload on employees

Struggling to understand why the majority of your workforce cope with the work pressure, yet that one individual just doesn’t seem strong enough for the task at hand? This article could be of use. >>> Prejudices from managers towards employees with burnout

Does the employee sometimes appoint himself?

The idea that an employee is only hiring or that the employee was too weak for the position is a smart escape route. Sick due to work pressure? No, that really is not possible, the employee was simply not suitable! It is important to establish that everyone can get burnout.

Whether the job seems stressful or not. Someone with a burnout certainly does not get involved. It must first be determined by a company doctor. It is difficult to manipulate this. They see employees who suffer from burnout on a daily basis and who would like nothing more than to work again.

>> Read also ..
Is one employee back in the workplace after a few weeks and another employee stay at home for months? How do you know if this employee is not simply taking advantage or genuinely absent? Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misunderstanding due to ignorance about burnouts by managers and employers. Does an employee with a burnout appoint himself? Or is something serious going on?

21 causes of high work pressure

Below is a list of causes of high workload that we regularly encounter when we give our stress prevention training at companies:

1 | Time pressure

Everyone in a team suffers from time pressure. The pressure to make everything for each other. Basically this pressure is not very bad. It becomes annoying when someone has no control over this pressure. Many things have to be finished, a customer or colleague is waiting or a lot of pressure is exerted from above to achieve targets or objectives.

> Read also … Do your employees experience this all too often? have a look at – Support employees to increase their personal effectiveness.

2 | Time management & prioritizing

An important cause of time pressure is that time is not properly classified, or that team members do not know how to use their time as effectively as possible. A lot of time is wasted on unimportant matters. Examples of this are a ‘ cc culture’, or meeting endlessly without clear agreements about time and agenda.

You can recognize a lack of time management by the fact that many unimportant tasks have an important place on the agenda. Main and side issues are governed by time. Unimportant matters are put forward because it seems that a customer or colleague is waiting for an answer. Important things are forgotten, or too little attention is paid to them.

time management

3 | Extinguish fire and be busy ad hoc

A major disadvantage of too much time pressure is the creation of a ‘fire fighting culture’. A method that is guided by the issues of the day, for example by resolving continuous questions or complaints from customers. Something is happening and it is being responded to instead of devising and implementing things strategically. The result is that team members are hard at work trying to solve everything, desperately trying to complete it and then being confronted with the following.

>> Read also … Constantly putting out fires can lead to your employee’s multitasking, this may seem ok, but for how long will the job be done effectively? Multitasking skill? or a bad habbit.

4 | Employees who work too many hours

The consequence of putting out fires is that employees start working too many (more than contractually agreed and more than good for them) to finish the work. Hours at the expense of a stable home situation, sports and mental recovery.

>> Read also … How well do your employees indicate their boundaries? You help them this way

5 | Not heard, seen and appreciated

Team members who work in an organization with a lot of work pressure often feel unheard of. Yet we all yearn for this appreciation (prof. James). The high workload ensures a ‘rat race’. Continuously fly on to get the job done and there is no time to realize the ‘now’ and stand still for a moment to get an overview. From the ‘now’, effective plans can again be made to continue working in a smart way.

employee appreciation

6 | No clear policy for telephone and mail

The telephone and mail often cause extra stress for employees. A clear policy can be traced back to the culture of a company. Is it desirable that employees are available day and night? Or is it good that a lot of attention is also being paid to reducing the workload? If reducing a high workload is an important priority, it is necessary to make clear agreements about this. Some companies, such as Samsung and Audi, switch off the mail servers after 6 p.m.

7 | Culture

Many organizations have a culture in which many hours of work are important. The number of hours shows how you are such a good employee. The more hours, the more involved you are, the overall view. The same also applies to the number of kilometres you drive.

Someone who works 60 to 70 hours a week is quickly seen as successful and involved. It is forgotten that the work/rest balance is then often hard to find, which means that people work less effectively.

How do you keep your employees healthy? This is how you promote health at work – An article worth reading to support a good work-life balance.

work culture

8 | No clear frameworks

A lot of stress in a team arises because there are no clear frameworks within which people can work. Clear frameworks in the sense of knowing where you stand as an employee, knowing what you can expect from your manager and what you can expect from yourself.

A clear framework gives peace to a team. They know where they stand and what is expected. First having to figure out a framework always leads to loss of time, stress and troubles.

A framework can be difficult to implement when there has been a lack of in the past. take a look at our article that covers the reasons why it is beneficial and how to get on track with establishing a clear framework Safety in The Workplace Reduces Absence. Why?

9 | Company culture and image do not match

When a company has a different image than the prevailing culture, there are employees who take on the ‘saviour role’ and try to rectify this. This often happens through misunderstandings of colleagues or managers. The consequences are clear: The saving employee suffers burnout or eventually leaves for a company where he can spend his time more effectively. In the current labour market shortage, this is not desirable in either case.

>> Read also … Prevent this from happening before it is too late  and learn to address a Bad working atmosphere: tips for managers

corporate culture

10 | Don’t use each other’s talents

Not everyone is good at everything. The one has qualities that the other does not. Fortunately, that forms a team. However: tasks are done anxiously themselves. Research shows that if everyone did what he/she is really good at, people would be up to nine times as effective. What would happen to a team if everyone was nine times as effective?

Not knowing and acknowledging each other’s skills and talents leads to a lot of wasted time. Moreover, the use of each other’s skills ensures unity and time saving because team members do what they are good at.

The use of each other’s talents means in concrete terms that you are relinquishing some things as a team member because someone else is much more useful at something. Visa Versa this of course also happens.

Here at Milltain, we are focused on providing you with the best training in order for you to get more from your employees whilst keeping them happy and healthy and maximising your businesses effectiveness. 

11 | Do things yourself and attract them

The distrust of each other in a team, a different vision of how things should be done, or a difference in commitment to certain things, often leads to team members ‘just doing things themselves’.

“If you want something done properly, do it yourself,” you often hear. The result: a number of team members lie in their (often critical) hammock where others wear out their shoes to get the work done.

Delegating matters always starts with proper training of the person to whom you delegate the tasks.

no team work

12 | Don’t cooperate

Team members who do not work together or do not work well, face a high workload. They not only want to do everything themselves but also because communication is deteriorating:

You often hear:

  • The team is put together like loose sand
  • The group of people work past each other
  • Together we are weak

13 | Unclear communication

Unclear communication is one of the important causes of high work pressure. Unclear communication often arises from misunderstanding. Misunderstanding often arises because people explain signals in their own way and do not have an overview of how someone else picks up such a signal. There is then communication with an enormous amount of ‘noise’ on the line. One talks, the other also receives, but the message is not transmitted.

A classic example of this is a group of people who have to tap a song on a window of an enclosed space where people on the other side of the window have to try and guess which song it is. NB: these are super simple songs such as ‘Jack and Jill’, ‘Twinkle-Twinkle little star’ etc.

The result? Only 4% of people guessed the right melody. This to the surprise of the ‘beaters’. They played the melody in their heads and beat to the beat, much to the surprise of the ‘listeners’. The message was not transmitted in whole.

A suitable communication, therefore, consists of understanding the other and attuning the way of speaking and listening. Understanding the other is crucial in this! We, therefore, see communication not so much as a skill, but rather as the development of additional social capabilities.

More on communication in the workplace here >>> Companies, common problems and how you can prevent them

work communication

14 | Gossip

Many teams are stressed by gossip. Gossip about anything and everything: the shoes of a colleague, the choices someone makes, the house in which someone lives, or the car in which a colleague drives. In fact, everything in which a colleague differs from the average of the team or the company can be gossip.

15 | Quarrels / unspoken frustrations.

Many quarrels in a team arise because many situations are hardly ever spoken. Here to understanding is a very important factor.

This is evident from the ‘talking stick’ by Stephen Covey. I deployed this during a conflict with two very different team members who did not like each other at all. The stick means that the person who has the stick (I used a petrol pen for lack of better) can talk and tell his/her story, while the other listens without interruptions. When the person with the stick has finished his story, the other person summarizes the story and when this summary is correct, the other person tells his story.

The result that both team members were allowed to tell their story and felt understood by the other led to clarity. A literal sentence was: “If I had known this in advance, I would never have reacted that way.”

Unspoken frustrations often lead to arguments. One thing is certain: arguments never contribute to the good performance of a team.

>> Read also:  
A bad working atmosphere? These are the causes and solutions.

communication at work

16 | Inability of a manager

The wrong management of a team can lead to a lot of stress. We have already described above the setting of unclear frameworks that make team members insecure or start to rebel.

Incorrect management is often due to:

  • A manager who wants to keep every team member a friend
  • The manager who is too dominant and imposes too many people his will.
  • A manager who wants to solve everything and does not lay the responsibility of the people themselves.
  • The manager who believes that team members cannot think for themselves and must solve everything
  • Managers who do not make choices and get bogged down in regulations.

17 | No team feeling

In a team that does not have a ‘we-feeling’, you have many islands that do not work together. Of course, a ‘we-feeling’ requires a clear vision and mission of an organization. However, a ‘we-feeling’ contributes to the (joint) desire to achieve objectives. The slogan ‘you go fast, together you get far’ applies to this.

18 | No employee control

Team members do not take control of their own (meaning: control over their own life and work) and allow themselves to be led by what the management or the customer wants. The result is that team members act reactively to events. A lack of self-direction is characterized by:

  • A lack of proactivity
  • Little input in meetings
  • Never think outside the box
  • Have little satisfaction with their own work
  • Too little fun

A lack of autonomy (self-management) is characterized by the fact that team members do not dare to make choices, do not want to make mistakes (do everything too safely), and do not want to take responsibility.

Self-steering (being the captain of one’s own ship) starts with determining ‘who am I’ (what does my ship look like?). This is followed by learning to know and understand how you can use this, without selling yourself (the ship) to someone else.

19 | Little authenticity of employees

When the team becomes a unity sausage, and everyone imitates each other, there are always team members who adapt too much to the other. Adjusting ensures that someone performs less than they actually could, or is on their toes to participate.

Every team member is unique. When someone uses their unique sides and can deploy them in a well-founded way, someone becomes authentic. Authentic people suffer little stress.

team diversity

20 | Too little personal development

Too little personal development of employees leads oddly enough to extra stress. Employees do not want to standstill. They want to develop. You can also say that employees who continue to develop, by definition, already have a large degree of autonomy. The employee cannot develop another, namely. Intrinsic motivation is therefore always involved with personal development.

21 | Too little mobility

Too little mobility creates an extra high workload. Employees like to move through an organization both horizontally and vertically. This presents a challenge and lowers the high workload. Facilitating this often lies with the manager or a mobility agency.

Workload during reintegration

When the employee wants to get back to work after a long period of illness, a reintegration process is started. It is important to discuss matters well from the start. Make the topic of work pressure properly negotiable and ensure an open attitude as a manager. The fact that you may not experience the workload as extreme, does not mean that the employee cannot experience this in this way.

It is important to make adjustments that can reduce the workload. This can mean that you divide tasks or provide working from home as a possibility. When the burnout is largely caused by work pressure, it is important that you tackle it better this time. By reducing the workload, you prevent the risk of a relapse. Make sure that the subject can be discussed in the workplace. Everyone can contribute to reducing the workload and stress in the workplace.

>> Read also: 
Properly reintegrate an employee with burnout – practical tips.

Conclusion: Excessive workload

Burnout cannot be fully attributed to work pressure. Burnout is the result of a combination of factors. Of these, stress and work pressure are certainly the main players, but the effect of negative personal circumstances must also be considered.

Do you want the employee to be able to successfully return to the work floor and do you want to prevent more employees from dropping out due to excessive work pressure? Then make sure you make the necessary adjustments and make sure that this theme does not become a taboo in the workplace.

Conquer burnout and stress

Reducing stress and recovering from burnout can be quite the challenge. With the help of our professional coaches, we are convinced that a full recovery is within reach. Our years of experience has taught us what stepping stones will help you reach your goal more effectively and how to make sure the changes you make will be of help to you for the rest of your life. Let’s turn your burnout or stress into your best life ever.

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