Most managers are, by definition, focused on factors outside of themselves. Managing a team of employees and running an organization requires a ton of outward attention, and an ability to prioritize others’ needs before addressing ones’ own. This perspective, however, can come at a high price: managers may neglect to notice or address their own stress and physical health.
For the past few decades, psychological researchers have been aware of a phenomenon called ego depletion: the wearing down of willpower and self-control. The most common understanding of the subject holds that willpower is a finite resource, which can be used up or exhausted over the course of a single day (Baumeister et al, 1998). This has been supported by research showing that when a person is asked to exert a ton of willpower (for example, by ignoring loud noises to complete a difficult task), they make more impulsive decisions afterward.
Burnout is the enemy of productivity, collaboration, and morale. When an employee is experiencing burnout, they report low motivation, low investment in their organization’s goals, and an outlook that is pessimistic and grim. Burned out employees are more likely to be absent, waste time at the workplace, make avoidable errors in their work duties, and generate conflict among their co-workers.