New research from Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence suggests that people who are emotionally invested in their jobs are more susceptible to burnout than those employees who simply turn up to work and do the minimum. We all know that working too hard and putting in long hours at the office can lead to stress and anxiety. But the surprising result of this research is the inner turmoil felt by those employees who love their jobs and thrive on the challenges, but at the same time feel stressed and burnt out. In some of the participants, the turmoil is so great that they think more about leaving their jobs than their colleagues who aren’t engaged with their work at all.

Too much engagement

The research suggests that there is such a thing as too much engagement, where a staff member is too invested in their work and is, therefore, susceptible to stress and unable to switch off. So, what steps can a responsible employer take to minimise the possibility of their motivated and engaged employees suffering from burnout?

Less wellness and more balance

Many companies have gone down the route of providing employee wellness initiatives such as nutritional programmes or thirty minutes of daily meditation. While these sorts of initiatives certainly have a place and offer many benefits, according to the researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, they are not the total answer.

In fact, the researchers have determined that there are much bigger factors at play and these are having the tools and resources to do the job properly, plus the demands and expectations of the employer.

The importance of having the right resources

The researchers discovered that if a worker has tangible resources such as time, money and equipment at their disposal, as well as intangibles such as empathy and friendship from their team, then they’ll be better off and will be more able to cope with the stresses and demands of work. They will also respond better if the organisation has systems in place to formally recognise and reward the hard work that they do.

The importance of reasonable employer expectations

In addition, those employers that set clear, reasonable expectations for their more engaged and involved employees tend to get the best out of them. In this context, it’s essential to create an environment and company culture that doesn’t expect the earth from its staff members with impossible to achieve expectations.  It’s far better for employers to set the right example and foster a reasonable work-life balance.

And so, if you’re one of those employees that is super engaged and invested in your work, then recognise the warning signs and take steps to develop a better work/life balance with your employer.

And if you’re an employer, then take on board the lessons from the research and set challenging but attainable goals for your high achievers. Provide them with the necessary tools and resources and recognise and reward their achievements. An environment such as this will see your employees thriving rather than suffering from burn out.