Boss plays crucial role in burn-out, say researchers


Researchers at Ghent University have discovered that bosses play a crucial role in the development of burn-out among workers

“Take this seriously”

According to a study carried out by researchers at Ghent University, workplace bosses and supervisors play a major role in the development of burn-out among employees.

Labour economist Stijn Baert and organisational psychologist Eva Derous surveyed more than 1,000 former and current burn-out patients earlier this year as part of a large-scale study into the development of the condition.

The reasons most frequently cited that lead to burn-out included insufficient feedback from supervisors, a fast-paced work environment and the pressure to remain available at all times – all factors that supervisors can to a large extent control.

“Employers should take this problem seriously,” Baert told De Morgen. “Burn-out is real and it’s not a euphemism for laziness.”

According to the paper, 7% of workers are currently experiencing problems that often lead to burn-out, while 9% are fully at risk of developing a burn-out. “Employers should invest in their people, even if those investments only pay off later,” he said.

Measures that may help prevent burn-out include flexible working hours and the right to disconnect from email outside of working hours, Derous added. But she also advised more out-of-the-box solutions.

“One interesting avenue for further research is more tailored HR policies that allow employees to take time out in accordance with their personal needs,” she said.

Although burn-out has become a growing problem in many developed nations, there are no diagnostic criteria to objectively determine it. Frequently cited symptoms, however, include exhaustion, loss of cognitive control, loss of emotional control, depression-related complaints as well as distancing oneself from work.

Photo: Siska Gremmelprez/BELGA



Health-care system

The health-care system is federally organised in Belgium. Competing health insurance providers and a proportional contribution-based system ensure that healthcare is accessible to virtually all citizens and costs remain relatively low.
Law - From the age of 25, Belgian citizens and residents – both employees and those self-employed – are legally obliged to have health insurance.
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percent of salary employees contribute to social security


to 75% of healthcare costs reimbursed by mutuality