The Influence of Burnout Symptoms on the Relationship between Work-Life Balance and Self-Rated Health
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The effects of stress at work are estimated to cost Canadian employers more than 20 billion dollars annually through absenteeism, sick leave and decreased productivity. Over the past two decades, Canadians have reported higher stress levels, increased work hours and more work performed outside of normal business hours. This work-life imbalance has far-reaching repercussions–affecting an employee’s performance as well as their health. Chronic exposure to these high levels of stress can also lead to burnout. The primary purpose of this study was to determine the magnitude in which burnout symptoms influence the relationship between work-life balance and self-rated health. The secondary purpose of this study was to determine if gender and age interactions exist in the relationship between burnout, work-life balance, and self-rated health. This cross-sectional study involved secondary analysis of 220 managers, workers and human service professionals who completed an Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers’ Mental Injury Toolkit (MIT) survey for the launch of the MIT. The MIT survey is a modified form of the short version of the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire and includes expanded questioning around burnout, stress, sleep troubles, cognitive, and somatic symptoms. There were no significant differences in self-rated health based on a respondent’s gender or age, indicating that no interaction of gender and age would be required. Respondents with low self-rated health reported significantly higher burnout and work-life imbalance compared to those with high self-rated health. The regression analysis demonstrated that the magnitude in which burnout mediates the relationship between work-life balance and self-rated health was 96%. These findings support previous studies that associate high levels of work-life imbalance or burnout with poor self-rated health or health outcomes. In this study, the shared variance between work-life balance and burnout also supports recent efforts to redefine the context and causes of burnout to include non-work factors. Based on our findings, the potential exists for the development of workplace health promotion strategies that address maintaining a balance between work and home as they may improve employee health and reduce burnout.