Executives under Fire: The Burnout Syndrome

by Morley Glicken, Katherine Janka



Worker burnout is suddenly a major concern in American industry and government. It may seem ironic at a time of layoffs, early retirement incentives, and other payroll cut measures, but the psychological condition of workers is a significant issue. Decreased productivity, shoddy work, high turnover, industrial sabotage, and high-level theft are compelling reasons to examine the causes and potential treatment of worker burnout. Because burn-out at managerial levels is likely to affect workers at lower levels, this article considers burnout at the executive and managerial levels. Burned-out executives may superficially appear to function adequately, but a careful look at their work-related behavior suggests that quality, quantity, creativity, enthusiasm, and true contribution to the organization are in jeopardy. Often, burned-out executives demonstrate a combination of the following predictable behaviors: a tendency to blame others in the organization for their burnout, to complain bitterly about aspects of work which in the past were not areas of concern, to miss work because of nonspecific and increasingly prevalent illness, to daydream or sleep on the job, to be the last to come to work and the first to leave, to bicker with coworkers or appear uncooperative, and to become increasingly isolated from others.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

Learn more
Follow Us