Addressing Burnout: Surplus Powerlessness In the Workplace

January 26, 2024

Stress is detrimental to the mental and physical state of health care workers, so why is management not doing more to change the workplace to make it less stressful? It is undeniable that a healthier workforce can result in more productivity. Unfortunately, many health care professionals seem to blame themselves for their stress, which, in turns, benefits management.

In his book, Surplus Powerlessness: The Psychodynamics of Everyday Life and the Psychology of Individual and Social Transformation, Dr. Michael Lerner explains: “Even though workers may have higher rates of absenteeism and lower levels of productivity, it may still be more efficient for management to have workers feel bad about themselves…that worker may then feel powerless to change the stressful work conditions and powerless to change the way things are organized in the larger society—may actually be valuable resultant from the standpoint of management efficiency.”

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