The list is pretty obvious. Jobs with high burnout rates are workplaces that expect too much from their employees. For certain jobs it is even a requirement to always give more than is anticipated.
Burnout is on the rise and it is affecting a large part of the population. Yet, strangely, this condition is still not that well-known and it is often brushed off as “badly handled stress” and “come on, you’ll get over it”.
If you are not sure what burnout is, please check my article How to Heal from Burnout. Compare a human being to a candle. This candle’s flame has come to its end, and as much as you try to light it, it won’t light anymore. The candle has burnt out and is utterly useless. It cannot function as a candle anymore. It can no longer emit that bright shine, light up the room with that brilliant flame like it used to do.
The term burnout was first coined in the 1970s. It is rumored to come from “burn until fuel is exhausted”, which is an old phrase that was used in the 1590s (centuries before burnout even existed). The more direct link may be an expression that refers to electrical circuits that “cease to function with overload” (source: etymonline) The reference to mental exhaustion was finally created in 1975.
Jobs With High Burnout Rates
- Social Workers
- Animal rescuers
- School principals
- Police officers
- Public accounting
- Fast food
Doctors and Nurses
That goes without saying, especially now during times of covid-19, but even before this pandemic began the medical profession stood high in the list of jobs with burnout. Patient care with its high demand and stress, long hours, and administrative work has caused burnout for nearly 50% of doctors, according to the American Medical Association. Nurses are also at a high risk of burnout.
It is especially high in the areas of emergencies, family physicians, and internists.
Social workers handle a lot of terrible issues and heartbreaking realities on a nearly daily basis. Compassion fatigue is a preoccupation with absorbing trauma and emotional stress of others, and it is common among social workers. Compassion fatigue is not the same as burnout.
While symptoms are very similar, compassion fatigue is caused by the above mentioned causes and burnout is an emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that is caused by excessive stress over a long period of time.
Just because these volunteers deal with animals doesn’t mean that they do not suffer compassion fatigue. When you rescue animals; dogs, cats, birds, monkeys, horses, animals used for consumption, or any kind of animal that comes from abuse, you deal with a lot of cruelty. The cruelty is so intense at times that it causes serious traumas in the rescuer. I speak from personal experience, because I rescued and fostered animals for 20 years.
Saving and caring for animals also doesn’t stop when we decide to call it a day, it’s a 24/7 job, 365 days a year.
Not only cruelty and abuse, but also negligence, terrible diseases, and witnessing slow, agonizing deaths are all part of this hard work, and the only things that keep rescuers going are the happy endings we do achieve. Many years ago, for several months I dealt with an extraordinary amount of heartbreaking deaths, and it got so bad that I went to see a therapist. I could not handle it anymore.
Yes, that’s me too. I have been a teacher for 14 years, but you do not need to read about my experience to know that teaching is a high stress job.
According to THE Journal, teaching has the “highest burnout rate of any public service job”. The demands are high, superiors have many expectations; you do not have only one boss, you have a whole bunch of bosses who all have demands of you; and you have to constantly pay attention not to step on anyone’s toes (this last point applies more for private schools). Sorry, I do not mean this in a bad way, but this is our side of the story 😉
There are too many people to please and it takes the focus away of what we are here for: the children.
The only reason a teacher remains in his job is love. No one would do this kind of work if he or she did not love teaching. One can do many jobs without love, but teaching is not one of them. It is the reason why I have been doing it for so long.
Teaching is a very important profession – if you think about it, we are forming the adults of the future – but it seems constantly unappreciated and underpaid, combined with high workloads that demand our attention even when the working day is over and on weekends. According to THE Journal, the rate of burnout is higher among young teachers, and there is also a high job turnover, which is not good for the students either … So, nobody wins … 🙁
That does not come as a surprise. I often tell my boss that I do not envy him his job, because most of what he does is deal with complaints. Some are justified, but others are … just not. It’s a good thing that nothing ever fazes him, but even he who usually has a smile on his face often looks stressed and solemn.
School principals also have to deal with constant demands, an endless amount of meetings, and the point I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Most people know a good lawyer joke, but it is also a job that handles many problems. Moreover, there is high competition for clients among different law firms, many demands to meet, high expectations as well, deadlines, long hours, keeping up with changing laws, over-commitment, lack of help, chronic fatigue, etc.
In the movies, attorneys are always shown as either sleazy or rich or both, and they are usually portrayed as having thick skin and only caring about winning, disregarding their client’s guilt or innocence. I think that the movie industry has given lawyers a bad rep 😉 and it makes us forget how demanding their work can be and how it can lead to burnout.
Police officers also have a high stress job and deal with many difficult situations. They are exposed to extremely high risks and they often witness the worst of human nature. It must get to you at some point … Burnout happens to the officers who are the most committed to their jobs. Makes sense …
Lately, we have all seen the appalling images and videos of police brutality. I did not want to include current incidents in my post, and it is possible that because of recent events police officers may not get as much sympathy as they used to … However, there are good and bad apples everywhere, and right now, the good apples remain forgotten due to the bad ones that make it to the news …
This post is purely informational and it relates to burnout, which is why I am including police officers in this list.
Does this one come as a surprise? Well, burnout seems to be common in accounting, due to heavy client loads, impossible deadlines, crazy tax season schedules, and so on. All of this can lead to prolonged stress.
Have you noticed that most fast food places have a high employee turnover? You order a burger one day and a week later there is a different person with a new name tag. A high turnover has an effect on employees who are permanent, having to adapt to new colleagues all the time, having to train again and again, over and over the same thing … It can get to you.
The work in fast food joints is pretty monotonous, there is always someone looking over your shoulder (and that is very stressful) and the pay is known to be low. Job-related depression is also an indicator for burnout.
A quote from a fast food worker (source vox: fast food worker burnout): “Fast food is intense! And it’s stressful! You’re always feeling rushed, you’re on a time crunch for literally eight hours straight, you’re never allowed to have one moment just to chill.”
This area also has a high work turnover.
According to an article on Talking Retail, the factors that cause the most anxiety among employees are:
- pressure from the manager
- demanding customers
- long hours
- excessive workload
- tight deadlines
Workers have reported feeling undervalued and being treated as if they are expendable.
I have worked in retail for a while, to make extra cash, and although it was an interesting experience at first, after a while I began to feel similar things that were mentioned in the previous paragraph. I can certainly relate.
The jobs that I mentioned (animal rescue is actually voluntary work) are all high risk places for burnout. If you find yourself in one of these jobs or another one that is also causing you prolonged and severe stress, then please make sure that you have a balance in your life. Set limits.
For example, as a teacher, do not answer any more emails after 6pm (or the time that you deem adequate). Do not take work home during weekends.
For lawyers, I advise a similar method. Draw your lines. Until here and no further, you need time out.
Social workers, you can’t just stop caring, this is different … but you can do things for yourself, relax with some music, take yoga classes, meditation,
Animal rescuers, I recommend the same; yoga classes, meditation, moments for yourself, …
The bottom line is: we must keep a healthy balance in our lives. There is time for work, time for giving, and then there is time for us.
For any more tips on how to deal with burnout, please feel free to check out the following articles:
- How to keep stress under control
- How to prevent burnout at work
- Emotional burnout recovery
- Top 5 meditation apps to help you relax
I hope this helps. Thank you for reading!