Hand reaching out from papers TheWHO handbook states that burnout should only be regarded in thecontext of work, and should not be applied to describe experiencesin other areas of life. (Image: Shutterstock)

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Employers may want to consider reducing unhealthy andunproductive workplace stressors that can lead to employee burnout, now that the World HealthOrganization has officially deemed it a medical condition.

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“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronicworkplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” WHO writes in the 11th revision of itshandbook, the International Statistical Classification of Diseasesand Related Health Problems.

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Related: 4 ways to prevent employee burnout

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Workers who experience burnout exhibit feelings of energydepletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's jobor feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; andreduced professional efficacy, according to the WHO.

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These characteristics should prompt employers to address burnout“head-on,” according to Quartz.

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“While personal exhaustion may be the first and perhaps mostacknowledged symptom of burnout, the other two suggest thatburned-out employees simply can't work as effectively,” Quartzwrites.

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The WHO handbook states that burnout should only be regarded inthe context of work, and should not be applied to describeexperiences in other areas of life. Exclusions include adjustmentdisorder; disorders specifically associated with stress anxiety orfear-related disorders; and mood disorders. The WHO's ICD-11, theinternational standard for reporting diseases and health conditionsthat member states typically adopt, is slated to come into effecton January 1, 2022.

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While employers can help workers combat burnout by providingstress management classes within wellness programs, they may alsowant to consider assessing conditions within their workplace todetermine if certain things are causing undue stress, according tothe Korn Ferry Institute.

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Like bad bosses. A 2018 Korn Ferry survey of 2,000 professionalsfound that the largest source of stress comes from bosses. Othersources of stress come from dealing with changes in technology,increased workloads and interpersonal conflict.

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“Organizations can take steps to help reduce stress, such asoffering training on new technologies and development for managerson how best to lead,” Korn Ferry writes. “Leaders can restructurefirms to dismantle anxiety-causing top-down corporate structuresand eliminate authoritarian leadership styles.”

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