Burnout is not happening to us overnight, and it is not the same as being overworked, depressed, or mentally broken down.
Burnout occurs when our energy, involvement and effectiveness erode into fatigue and inability to function productively.
Problems around us seem to be insurmountable, and we have completely lost interest and motivation. We feel physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, increasingly hopeless, powerless and resentful. As burnout is a gradual process, it is also an illness. It might take as long time to recover from it as the downward spiral of constant stress causing it.
You may be at risk if
The signs tend to be more mental than physical
You might be a candidate for burnout if you have answered yes to some of the questions above, but not necessarily – because it can also indicate certain health conditions. Therefore, it is best that you consult your doctor or a mental health provider about the symptoms.
Different as burnout is from stress it can be characterised by disengagement, while stress is characterized by over-engagement. You simply care too much when you are stressed, but when you are burned out; you cannot see any hope of improvement at all. Burnout produces helplessness and hopelessness, while stress produces urgency and hyperactivity. Burnout leads to detachment and depression, while stress leads to anxiety disorders. The primary damage of burnout is emotional, while the stress' primary damage is physical.
High stress jobs can lead to more burnout than normal ones. People who are very involved in their job are at greater risk of »meeting the wall« by a burnout. They are often also the people that add most value to a business, the ones with a strong sense of responsibility, and they seem to “always” be there for others to lean on for support. People working in customer service, social services, education, law enforcement, and emergency service seem to have the highest proportion of burnout. As burnout is work-related, it is in every company's interest to ensure that burnout does not occur. Occupational health and safety practise vary around the world. but in many European countries are stress and burnout included in occupational health and safety standards, which hold the company (at least partly) responsible for preventing burnout.
Ask for transfer to another department
Ask for other duties
Clarify their job description
There is a variety of ways employers and employees can prevent job burnout at the workplace. A demanding job should not affect the employees’ health negatively.
Consult a mentor for assistance to deal with a stressed working environment by starting a EAP - Employee Assistance Program, which can help you assess both your own and your employees interests, skills and passions. It can help you all to reduce the stress you experience, prevent burnout and perhaps consider alternative jobs, less demanding or better ones that matches their skills and interests.
All companies and organisations should have a stress policy as part of their overall Health and Safety Policy. To achieve the benefits for both the organisation and its employees a policy needs to involve and be supported by everyone for securing committment from all parties involved:
Stress Management Policy shall:
Stress Risk Assessment shall:
Stress Management Training, shall
It is essencially important that the stress management policy is carefully drafted, clearly understood, fully implemented and reviewed by all parties. This require skilful management and good communication lines.