Mental Health: Is Job Burnout Connected to Physical Health?

The Huffington Post runs a report that examines two studies that aim to address workplace stress and the impact it has on employees and, potentially, their health. The piece points out: “If people can’t return to baseline levels of calm and/or feelings of fulfillment, chronic heightened emotions could lead to physical symptoms like pain, fatigue and an increased heart rate.”

One study “proposes that a fundamental mismatch between unconscious needs and workplace duties may be causing workers undue stress.”

That study, titled “Motivational Incongruence and Well-Being at the Workplace: Person-Job Fit, Job Burnout, and Physical Symptoms” and published in Frontiers in Psychology “investigated to what extent a misfit between motivational needs and supplies at the workplace affects two key health outcomes: burnout and physical symptoms.”

The study states: “Results reveal that motivational incongruence with respect to the affiliation motive was related to high job burnout, while motivational incongruence concerning the power motive predicted increased physical symptoms. This was true for both those with a strong affiliation or power motive and low corresponding job characteristics and those with a weak affiliation or power motive and job characteristics demanding the respective motive. Results hint at potential interventions toward preventing or remedying a lack of needs-supply fit and reducing the risk of impairments of well-being.”

The Huffington Post quotes co-author Beate Schulze, a senior researcher at the Department of Social and Occupational Medicine of the University of Leipzig: “Matching employees’ motivational needs to their daily activities at work might be the way forward. This may also help to address growing concerns about employee mental health, since burnout is essentially an erosion of motivation.”

Or, as the study concludes: “These findings may contribute to throwing more light on the mechanisms behind the contribution of new sources of stress typical in today’s globalized, highly competitive, dynamic and efficiency-driven economy such as a lack of reciprocity in the organizational exchange relationship (Sanz, 2008Piccoli and De Witte, 2015) or illegitimate tasks infringing one’s professional self-image (Semmer et al., 2015) to a growing concern about mental health in the workplace.”