The World Health Organization has recognized burnout syndrome as an occupational health problem. Since January 1, 2022, it has been included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Lack of fulfilment, frustration, or lack of interest in work are just some of the causes of a problem that is becoming more and more notorious on a global scale. In the United States alone, between March and July 2021, 12 million people left their jobs in what is known as ‘ The Great Resignation.’ And this is a phenomenon that is expanding after the pandemic and the increase in teleworking.
What is burnout syndrome?
The WHO defines burnout syndrome as a disease resulting from chronic work stress. Exhaustion, mental distance from work, negative thoughts, and feelings of frustration and ineffectiveness characterize it. It is a gradual process that leads to psychological alteration and is exclusively linked to the work environment. We can divide burnout syndrome into two types:
- Active burnout is the first stage of the disease, in which the employee still maintains assertive behaviour and tries to get out of the situation. He can show a positive attitude, control anger, accept criticism and not lose control.
- Passive Burnout: This is where feelings of apathy kick in. The employee has already abandoned the positive attitude and makes no effort to try to reverse the situation.
Exhaustion, mental distance from work, negative thoughts, and feelings of frustration and ineffectiveness characterize burnout syndrome.
Burnout syndrome: symptoms. How do you know if you’re ‘burned’ with work?
Are you irritable at work? Do you have trouble concentrating or finding the motivation to get things done? Do you have a feeling of exhaustion? Burnout syndrome appears as a response to work stress; two of the most common symptoms are depression and anxiety. But there are many more:
- I am feeling failure and helplessness
- Emotional exhaustion
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of concentration
- Little personal fulfillment
- Low performance
- A permanent state of nervousness
- Aggressive behaviors
- Headache, tachycardia, or insomnia
- Work absenteeism
- Impatience and irritability
- Poor communication
Five causes of burnout syndrome
The main trigger for burnout syndrome is poor working conditions. High levels of chronic stress, work overload, little autonomy, lack of recognition, poor personal relationships, or lack of support are some risk factors that can lead a worker to suffer burnout syndrome or burnout syndrome. Professional burnout.
Bad organization in the company and lack of control
The fact that there is an excessive workload and the worker never leaves on time, that they have to take work home, or that there is no real digital disconnection can considerably increase stress levels.
Dysfunctional work dynamics (poor leadership styles, little support, attention from superiors, excessive bureaucracy, or deficiencies in job definition) negatively influence workers’ moods.
Personal characteristics of the worker
A poor job adjustment, either because the job does not suit your interests or because you do not have the necessary skills, is another reason that can affect the emotional state of a worker. The expectations in a specific job are also important since sometimes they do not coincide with reality and cause there needs to be a better adaptation to the work environment. That is when the first symptoms of anxiety or apathy, for example, may begin to appear.
Similarly, personal characteristics can make people more prone to the syndrome. People who are conformist, insecure, overly perfectionist, or have low self-esteem are more likely to suffer from anxiety when subjected to high-stress levels.
Another cause that generates high levels of work stress is not knowing what your superiors expect of you or not being sure of your authority. When expectations are not clear, it is highly unlikely that you will be comfortable at work.
The imbalance between personal and work life
An excess workload will cause a lack of time to enjoy free or family time. That is why it is important that there can be a good balance between work and personal life and that no imbalance leads to excessive stress. Although the advent of teleworking may have alleviated this problem greatly, it is essential to know how to maintain motivation while teleworking and thus avoid falling into bad habits that prevent separating work from personal life.
A bad work environment or mobbing
You will likely end up suffering from burnout syndrome when there is a bad work environment or when you suffer from mobbing situations. Whether it is a case of ascending, horizontal or descending mobbing, this type of situation indisputably affects work performance. It ends up having personal, family, and social consequences for the person who suffers it.
Can it be prevented?
The first measure a company can take to prevent burnout syndrome from appearing in its workers is to evaluate the situations generating stress and do everything possible to reduce it. This involves improving the organization and providing the necessary tools so that people can perform their tasks properly without suffering an excessive workload. In addition, having a company psychologist is essential to detect those workers ‘burned out with the company in time.
On the part of the worker, it is important to have an assertive attitude, try to have good personal relationships in the work environment, and adapt to professional expectations. It is not so much a question of giving up ambitions and adjusting expectations to reality. You can also work on self-knowledge, combat work stress, improve self-esteem, acquire healthy habits and work on assertiveness and resilience.
One of the characteristics of burnout syndrome is that if the necessary measures are not taken, it can grow and become a growing problem. For the affected worker, it will be increasingly difficult to solve problems or perform seemingly simple tasks, which will impact his performance. Companies and employees must, therefore, become aware of the problem and apply the necessary measures to prevent it.