Nicole van Hattem

The Cost of Burnout

The modern workplace is a complicated place. Fast paced. Hectic. Competitive.

These pressures can lead to burnout. A state of being overwhelmed by all that is going on around.  When the powers that be measure the cost of impact of burnout, they look at the impact on economies and the companies. The costs are high – productivity losses worldwide from absenteeism, presenteeism, and early retirement due to ill health average 6.5% of countries GDP and is projected to increase. (link to research noted at bottom of page)

However the impact economic cost at an individual’s level rarely gets a mention.

Yet, burnout has a ripple effect that goes beyond what you do for a living. It impacts your family, your social circle, your health and your emotional wellbeing. What about your economy?

I worked out that each of my burnouts (I have lived through three) cost me financially from lost income and lost opportunities over $100,000 every time. This had an impact on my financial security.

But it also cost me a lot more.

Lost friends

Figuratively and literally. When I returned from recuperating from my first burnout, my boss and mentor Charles, who also worked long crazy hours like me, died suddenly. He did not look after himself and was under a lot of pressure. He is one of the reasons I am on a mission to stop death by desk and help people before they burn out.

Also working long hours and suffering all the symptoms of burnout, I could be a little distant and cranky. Work came first and I had little time for anything else.

Marriage cracks

The man I loved had to put up with this workaholic who he rarely saw. It was a photo he took of me on a rare night I was home that really shook me up – I was fat, frumpy and frazzled. When he took that photo, I was so annoyed at him but looking back, that photo probably helped to save our marriage. Because I was absent – physically and often mentally, the closeness we once had was slowly disappearing and the photo was like holding up a mirror to my neglect.


My diet left a lot to be desired. Fast food. Coffee by the cup load. I did not move a lot; I was chained to my desk, frantically meeting deadlines. My health suffered. Frequently unwell. I was tired all the time and not enjoying life at all.


Even when I was working away at a hundred kilometres per hour, juggling projects, meeting deadlines and just getting on with doing what they were paying me for, my performance suffered. I succumbed to the multitasking myth, thinking if I did lots of things at once it would make me more productive, it had the opposite effect. Mistakes were made. I missed things and I would quite often fall behind on tasks because it would all just overwhelm me.

I thought I was Superwoman. As an intelligent, high achiever, I thought I could handle it. My body and mind had other ideas.

I wonder if you relate to my story and what burning out cost me. After doing it a couple more times, I realised things had to change. I now dedicate my life to working with women in the same boat I was.

So … for you, what is the cost of your burnout going to be?

Take a moment now to breathe. Take your eyes off the computer, move away from the desk, look in the mirror and notice the silent costs of your success.

Success should not cost you what is most important to you and especially not your health.

Book a complimentary Holistic Coaching call with me today.

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