In Japanese, the word “karoshi” translates to “death by overwork.” As reports of workplace burnout have skyrocketed since the pandemic, it’s a phrase that aptly encapsulates a feeling that hundreds of thousands of workers have experienced over the past year. But the issue is neither temporary nor solely catalyzed by the pandemic; instead, we face a long-term health risk with rippling impacts.
This is the argument put forth by Jennifer Moss, a journalist and author of the forthcoming book “The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It.” Moss notes that while burnout has been experienced for centuries, there is something distinct about the current wave of workplace stress plaguing our offices. Technology, a pandemic and a productivity-oriented work culture have combined to create the perfect storm, she says. “Crisis exacerbates an existing problem. Then what happens is, it explodes,” Moss explains. What’s more, she says, it is not something that can be addressed simply by “downstream” efforts like office yoga sessions or even a paid week off. Rather, Moss argues, it requires fundamental, institutional change that prioritizes stress prevention over management.
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