How the Fear of Failure Increases Employee Burnout

It may be true that individuals are responsible for their own personal happiness; however, people often spend a great deal of time at work. For this reason, companies should strive to create a positive work environment.
With that in mind, creating an upbeat, productive atmosphere is no easy task. For one thing, a toxic individual can reverse the effects of two positive employees. Indeed, negativity is insidious, and easily spread. Whether it’s through gossip, a lack of motivation, or bullying, there are myriad ways that it prevents growth.
A company needs a strong sense of employee morale to prevent negativity in the workplace. Surprisingly, some of the ways employers use to prevent it actually backfire and make matters worse.

The Fear of Failure

Leaders usually encourage their staff not to make errors, and doing so is important. That being said, most people don’t actually need to be told not to make a mistake. In fact, doing so may actually enhance anxiety about performing a task.
An employee may feel added pressure when their superior highlights the importance avoiding mistakes. In addition, doing so actually underscores the negative aspects of a project. Instead, focusing on something positive, like the end goal, is much more productive.


Not only will employees feel added stress from avoiding failure, but they may become obsessed with it. Perfectionism runs rampant in today’s society. From unrealistic beauty standards, to an unrealistically high standard of living, people view value as it relates to perfection.
Of course, setting goals this high can have dire costs. A person’s mental health may suffer as a result of being unable to reach unattainable standards. Although not every employee will feel this way, some feel extreme pressure to excel.

Striking a Balance

Companies need to enforce policy, and they must have expectations of their employees. With that being the case, they must invest time in finding out exactly what they need from their employees. Specially, they should find out what is most important, and how to achieve that.
Ultimately, employers should focus on the integral parts of projects; they shouldn’t split hairs over small matters. While it would be wonderful if no one ever made a mistake, this expectation is unrealistic. Allowing employees the opportunity to know what projects are most important gives them an idea of where to invest most of their time and energy.
In addition, companies should perform a career personality assessment during pre-employment screening to determine a candidate’s suitability. This will allow them to determine how stressed the office will make them, and if they’ll have the psychological stamina for the role.