Burnout, or professional exhaustion syndrome, is a specific chronic stress related to work. It is an emotional malaise that leads to job dissatisfaction, intense fatigue and a loss of sense of personal happiness. Burnout in the workplace usually sets in in a subtle way, over time, affecting the worker in such a way that they hardly notice it. Whatever the cause, burnout at work can affect the physical and mental health of employees. In this article, you will find out how to know if you are suffering from a burnout syndrome and what you can do, as an employer, to remedy it.
The 3 types of burnout at work
The burnout syndrome is an occupational disease caused by suffering at work. As such, there are three types of burnout at work.
Burnout due to overwork
This is probably the most well-known type of professional burnout. When work is intense, it can lead to stress overload, strained relationships with colleagues, health problems and reduced performance.
Burnout due to lack of work
Unlike the burnout syndrome due to overload, burnout due to lack of stimulation is caused by an environment that does not push you to develop yourself. Monotonous work leads to disengagement and demotivation.
Burnout caused by a feeling of helplessness at work
Have you ever felt that despite your best efforts, your work still isn't up to par? Jobs that are too demanding can lead to a burnout generally characterized by a feeling of uselessness, a feeling of exhaustion and inadequacy.
Symptoms of burnout at work
As mentioned, professional burnout refers to a long-term exhaustion with a decrease in general interest in the context of work. Burnout is more than just stress.
- State of physical exhaustion at the end of the working day.
- Cynicism, irritability and detachment towards colleagues and clients.
- Feeling of emotional exhaustion.
- Extreme dissatisfaction with your work.
- Uncertainty about how to improve and progress.
These are classic symptoms of burnout at work. It is important to know how to identify the first signs of this syndrome in order to better circumvent it. To do this, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Do you find it difficult to get to work?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with your colleagues or customers?
- Do you lack the energy to be productive enough at work?
- Do you have trouble concentrating at work?
- Have your sleeping habits changed?
- Do you suffer from unexplained headaches, stomach or intestinal problems, or other physical ailments?
If you answered yes to several of these questions, you may be experiencing work-related burnout. It is important to be accompanied by your attending physician.
What are the causes of burnout at work?
Burnout at work can result from various factors. Let's take a closer look at some of them.
The lack of control
It may be a feeling of lack of control over tasks, decisions or time. This impression not only undermines employee motivation, but also their overall well-being.
Poor ergonomics in the workplace
Imagine you're an employee, sitting in a cheap office chair with little or no lumbar support. Your keyboard, mouse, and work screen are all on a flat surface. It is heavy for physical and moral health. Having office equipment that is not ergonomic can have serious repercussions not only on the productivity and quality of work of employees, but also on mental health and well-being.
Acoustic discomfort in the workplace
Acoustic comfort is one of the factors that most affects the well-being and performance of workers. Noise is one of the most frequent pollutants in workplaces and it can cause effects such as physiological or psychological alterations.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), environmental noise is the second leading cause of illness worldwide, after air pollution.
Imbalance between work and private life
If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you can't spend time with loved ones, you may burn out quickly. Also, your productivity could drop.
Unclear professional expectations
If you're not sure how much authority you have or what your managers expect of you, you're unlikely to feel comfortable at work.
Unfair treatment at work
Healthy professional relationships have an impact on your overall well-being. Thus, feeling isolated from your colleagues or having to deal with mobbing in the workplace can lead to a burnout syndrome. Having a manager who makes preferences, not being recognized for your accomplishments, or seeing that the reward you receive isn't worth the effort you put in can also be extremely demotivating.
8 effective ways to fight burnout at work
As mentioned, different factors can contribute to burnout at work. A review at the position, team or organization level is often necessary to address the causes. However, there are steps you could take. Here are a few that have proven effective:
Recognize that you are in a situation of burnout
When you are exhausted from work, it is important to apply yourself to find a balance. By acknowledging that you are exhausted, you give yourself a reason to make the necessary changes in your lifestyle. Don't be afraid to ask for social support from co-workers, family and friends. Focus on the physical first by getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and eating healthy. Instead of thinking about working 24/7, limit yourself to office hours and relearn how to relax in the evenings and on weekends.
Adjust your perspective
While rest and relaxation can alleviate burnout, they don't fully address the root causes of burnout syndrome. Back in the office, you may still be dealing with the same work overload and the same conflicts. So now you need to take a close look at your state of mind and your situation. Which aspects are really fixed, and which ones can you change? Are there ways to reshape your work so you have more control? By changing perspective, you can lessen the negative impact felt.
Reduce exposure to workplace stressors
You will need to identify the activities and relationships that trigger office stress. To do this, you will need to review the expectations of your colleagues and customers regarding your tasks. Your connections will understand that you are making these changes to improve your long-term productivity and protect your health.
Find the right contacts and talk about them
The best antidote to work burnout, especially when triggered by feelings of inefficiency, is to seek out interpersonal interactions. Find mentors who can help you identify and activate positive relationships and work-related training opportunities. Volunteering to advise and help colleagues is another effective way to break out of the negative cycle.
Set your limits
Before working overtime or taking on more responsibilities, ask yourself if you have enough time. Learning to listen to your needs and say "no" will give you a sense of control while preventing you from burning out at work.
Celebrate your small victories
As mentioned, the feeling of incompetence is one of the first signs of burnout at work. Thus, you may begin to doubt your ability to perform any task. This is exactly why you should try to list all of your accomplishments, no matter how small. It is an effective method for learning to put things into perspective at work.
Don't take your work home
Take care in planning your work organization so as not to interfere with your personal life. For example, make it a rule not to respond to work emails after hours. If you work remotely, stick to a fixed work schedule. Working from a dedicated space instead of using your dining table, sofa, or bed can help you make the difference and increase your productivity.
Deal with professional causes
If you could easily avoid burnout syndrome, you would. Unfortunately, it often occurs due to unrealistic expectations at work, a strained relationship with a manager, a dead-end job, or harassment. Burnout is often caused by factors that we cannot control. This makes prevention tricky but not impossible. As with any problem, to be sure to treat burnout syndrome, it is important to work on the root causes.
Ask yourself what brought you to this situation:
- Unsatisfying job?
- A degrading manager?
- Too much work load?
Whatever the cause, finding and treating it will allow you to get rid of burnout once and for all. Getting to the bottom of the matter takes a lot of introspection, so don't hesitate to consult an occupational mental health professional or an occupational medicine specialist if you can't do it on your own.
If you are in a situation of burnout (syndrome of professional exhaustion), you must speak to a doctor quickly. Depending on your symptoms and the severity of your burnout, he may prescribe a work stoppage. This is not systematic, but may be necessary to allow you to rest and put in place the necessary measures to improve your situation. © Qare
How can employers help prevent employee burnout?
As an employer, you can help prevent burnout among your employees by giving them more frequent tasks they love. Find ways to leverage your team's strengths and interests. Here are 2 concrete cases:
Case 1: If an employee works as a salesperson but enjoys leading teams, arrange for them to attend a few leadership development conferences.
Case 2: You learn that a marketer in your company is interested in graphic design. Allow him to spend a few hours a week taking online graphic design classes. This can reduce the risk of him burning out while allowing him to indulge in a passion.
The employer has an obligation to ensure the health and safety of employees. He has an obligation of result which stems from article 4121-1 of the labor code: “the employer takes the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protect the physical and mental health of the workers. » © Hays
A few hours of career development will not destabilize your organization. They will make your employees happier and help them cope better with pressure. It is important for managers to learn the work preferences of their team members. As far as possible, their collaborators can work on the activities that are the most interesting and stimulating for them. Also, get into the habit of acknowledging the work of your employees and their results. The feeling of usefulness corroborates the feeling of belonging and well-being at work.