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How to prevent burnout

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By Ross Walker

In my opinion, the greatest psychiatrist to have ever lived, Carl Jung, was possibly best known for his introduction of the concept of archetypes. These have been modernised and incorporated into the Myers-Briggs personality types.

There are 16 broad groups in total and include varying categories such as “the mechanic”, who is described as quiet and reserved and interested in how and why things work. They are risk takers who live for the moment, and are usually interested in and talented at extreme sports.

Another example is “the nurturer” who is quiet, kind and conscientious. They usually put the needs of others above their own needs. They are stable, practical and value security and traditions. A third example is “the scientist,” who is independent, original, analytical and determined. Scientists highly value knowledge, competence, and structure.

Then there is “the performer” who is people-oriented and fun-loving. They enjoy being the centre of attention and have a well-developed common sense and practical ability.

These are just a few examples of the many different possible archetypes, and googling Myers-Briggs can give you a more comprehensive overview of all 16 types.

The reason I am mentioning these is because of a recent article on the concept of burnout.

Burnout is defined as the state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion from work.

This can lead to a lack of motivation, low efficiency and a feeling of helplessness. The health effects of burnout can include chronic anxiety, cardiovascular disease, lower immunity, insomnia, and even depression. There is also an enormous financial cost to the community as a result of burnout.

It can lead to absenteeism (or even presenteeism, which is reduced productivity whilst at work), employee turnover, and medical, legal and insurance expenses.

Burnout and general work-related stress accounts for $300b a year in costs in the US alone. A recent study published in the Journal “Frontiers in Psychology” on burnout has suggested that mismatching a person's unconscious needs and personality characteristics for a particular job is a major factor in Burnout.

They raised the important and new concept of power motive versus affiliation motive.

  • The power motive includes the need to take responsibility for other people, along with maintaining discipline at work and engaging in arguments or negotiation.
  • The affiliation motive involves the need for positive relationships and to feel trust, warmth and belonging in the work place.

The study clearly shows that people who have a need for closeness in social relationships and are outgoing should not perform jobs which bind them to a desk or a computer. Equally, they describe a person who does not enjoy the centre stage or a leadership role should not be thrust into management.

The old, hackneyed method of constructing your own CV and obtaining references from people you know will talk and write in your favour clearly is not the best way to seek engaging, rewarding employment. It seems logical to me that this process should commence during the school years, where possibly something along the lines of the Myer-Briggs personality testing should be clearly performed to determine what type of person would suit a particular type of job. This is clearly a case of "one size does not fit all".

Published: Thursday, August 25, 2016


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