Burnout: How to approach it and its importance in the workplace

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‘Burnout’ is literally “being burned”, that is, an inadequate response to chronic emotional stress whose main symptoms are the following:

  1. Physical and / or psychological exhaustion: Chronic tiredness and / or emotional exhaustion, the feeling of not being able to give more of oneself. In addition, energy loss and fatigue appear physically and mentally.
  2. Despersonalization: to alleviate this feeling of negativity, a cold attitude is developed towards the team and people working around it, so that the person avoids the relationship with other people. This is how the individual tries to adapt to the situation, without forgetting that there is an increase in irritability and loss of employee motivation
  3. Decrease in job performance: This symptom can develop in two ways. On the one hand, it can be a linear job performance, that is, when the individual has the feeling that the demands exceed their own capacity. On the other hand, it can be a paradoxical decrease in job performance, this occurs when the employee has all the resources to meet his goal, but feels that he cannot achieve it.

The characteristics of the phases in which it is presented:

  1. Labor demands that exceed material and human resources: When there is an excess of labor requests, a stress situation occurs. For example, sometimes there are aspects of leadership, situations of coercive supervision, criticism, quick and important changes in the calendar or the overload of many demands. With all this, a perception of incompetence can appear that can lead to a feeling of inefficiency and low self-esteem.
  2. Overexertion: When the subject tries to overcompensate for their feelings or their perception of incompetence, they accept more work than necessary, focus more attention and planning. Consequently, secondary symptoms appear such as anxiety, fatigue, irritability, tiredness, which affects the decline of work goals and is when the person can initiate avoidance behavior in front of the other team members.
  3. Change of attitudes and behaviors: in order to defend against those feelings of negativity that were previously mentioned as emotional distancing, rigidity and the beginning of depersonalization as one of the main symptoms.

How to approach this problem in the work environment?

  1. Social Support: The availability of help from other people contributes to the reduction of feelings of loneliness and emotional exhaustion. In addition, the development of the team to effectively deal with problems, and in some way encourage and train both the team and the supervisors to give feedback on how we perceive, understand and live the behaviors with others.
  2. Anticipatory socialization programs: Create constructive strategies so the worker can be able to face real life situations, and adjust expectations in case they are far from real. In addition, feedback processes on the performance of the professional role should be developed along with group and interpersonal feedback.
  3. Organizational development: It is a long-term educational program, aimed at improving problem-solving processes and for the renewal of organizational culture. It helps and encourages collaboration, and also stimulates emotions and creativity to find solutions.

Other actions could involve: Redesigning the performance of tasks, clarifying decision-making process, improving supervision, establishing clear objectives for professional roles, establishing clear lines of authority, improving organizational communication networks, facilitating professionals to change activities, the improvement of rewards in the promotion, promoting multidisciplinary meetings, among others.

Why should team managers and employers care about it?

Employees affected by this condition can translate into significant business costs, as they are more likely to take sick days off, delay or completely fail their assigned projects, and even foster a negative work environment.

It is important to learn to recognize these signs in your workforce, since many times the poor job performance caused by burnout could be confused with a low performance caused by lack of commitment; If this results in a layoff that could have been avoided by prevention, then the direct costs can be very high.

At Erudit we want to help you taking care of your workers in these challenging times, monitoring their levels of motivation, burn out, stress and anxiety (without the need of applying a single survey) and finding ways to maintain a healthy and productive team of collaborators.

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