Beating burnout

Identifying bad jobs and improving job quality

2021 – While European-wide information on burnout is scarce, national statistics show that stress related absenteeism is on the rise, generating significant costs for firms and welfare states,

while reducing worker wellbeing. Although manifested at the individual level, burnout is an

occupational phenomenon, predicted most clearly by imbalances in job content (high workloads

and low autonomy) and the social environment at work – two under-explored aspects of job



While the economy and society as a whole would benefit from a healthier workforce, market

failures drive job quality below an optimal level, necessitating attention from policymakers.

Measuring and intervening in job content is not straightforward, however, and has not been a

main policy domain in Europe. Policy frameworks and interventions therefore tend to focus on

other areas of job quality, such as the physical and contractual working conditions.


To manage the burnout epidemic and mitigate the impact of the changing nature of work, job quality

policy needs to focus on the job-content aspects as well. Wellbeing outcomes of low job

quality, such as burnout, need to be monitored at European level and can serve to evaluate the

effectiveness of policy interventions in job quality.



Nurski, L. and M. Hoffmann (2022) ‘Beating burnout: identifying bad jobs and improving

job quality’, Policy Contribution 07/2022, Bruegel

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