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Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) are working on a tool to detect individuals at risk of burnout, a widespread condition characterized by severe mental and physical fatigue stemming from work-related stress. This preventive measure aims to identify potential burnout cases before they escalate, offering hope for proactive intervention.

Burnout causes cardiovascular issues

Burnout manifests through mental fatigue, diminished work enthusiasm, concentration challenges, and unusual workplace reactions. It adversely affects health, causing problems like cardiovascular issues, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbances, and depression. Additionally, it reduces organizational productivity due to heightened absenteeism and skilled worker attrition.

The importance of addressing burnout is highlighted due to its significant impact on individuals and workplaces.  According to Leon De Beer, work and organizational psychology associate professor at NTNU’s Department of Psychology, neglecting to address employee burnout promptly can lead to enduring consequences.

De Beer and his Healthy Workplaces research group have created the Burnout Assessment Tool (BAT) to detect burnout risk early. Tested on 500 Norwegian workers, BAT showed promising results in identifying early signs of burnout. It focuses on four key risk factors: exhaustion, mental distancing, emotional impairment, and cognitive impairment. Unlike previous methods, BAT offers a detailed measure suitable for practical and research use, filling a gap as there is no international standard for assessing burnout.

Burnout impacts work-life balance

Burnout also involves struggles with work-life balance. Its effects extend beyond work hours and can lead to prolonged stress and exhaustion. Experts emphasize the importance of addressing burnout not only at the individual level but also through organizational changes to prevent excessive work demands from overwhelming employees.

Individual treatment for burnout is ineffective if employees return to high-demand workplaces lacking resources, says Marit Christensen, NTNU Psychology Professor. To prevent recurrence, she emphasizes the necessity of establishing conducive work environments and supportive structures for employee well-being. The BAT tool is a culturally independent online assessment for evaluating burnout risk, effective for both genders. It is important to note that it is offered for educational and entertainment purposes only and is not a replacement for professional diagnosis or medical advice.