Is raising this topic just a fashion or the actual result of a growing phenomenon? Undoubtedly, burnout syndrome affects employees, and not only those who professionally deal with helping others (teachers, nurses, psychologists, priests, etc.). It affects employees of all industries, regardless of their position and place in the organizational hierarchy. In numerous publications we find descriptions of burnout among managers, salespeople, service employees and officials.
Burnout is defined as one of the individual's possible responses to chronic work-related stress. It is a set of symptoms that makes up the state of physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. At the same time, burnout is described as a process when an employee fully engaged in and enthusiastic about work gradually loses energy, enthusiasm and health, up to a complete lack of motivation and strength to do this work. In the extreme case, it may lead to a sudden breakdown, mental illness (depression, schizophrenia). According to Christina Maslach's burn-in theory, the syndrome consists of three groups of symptoms that occur simultaneously and at every stage of the process. As burnout develops, their severity and frequency increase. Symptoms initially relate to functioning at work, but gradually embrace other areas of life. Those are:
- psychophysical exhaustion - tiredness, trouble sleeping, headaches, colds, gastric disorders, other diseases,
- depersonalization - schematic treatment of others, distance from the emotions and needs of others, cynicism, withdrawal from social life,
- reduced self-esteem - loss of a sense of control over work and own life, lack of satisfaction with results at work, feelings of harm and guilt, fear of the future.
There are many factors that increase stress at work. Their specific systems can cause burnout. They are usually divided into three groups:
- Personal factors, i.e. a person's individual predispositions - perfectionism, lack of ability to cope with stress and emotions, idealization of work, lack of distance to official duties, inability to refuse, taking on too many tasks, bad time and priority management, setting unrealistic goals and requirements, a tendency to sacrifice.
- Organizational factors, i.e. the nature of the work performed - inadequate time and resources for tasks, overloading with duties, excessive bureaucratization, inability to participate in making decisions, monotonous, boring work, lack of promotion and development prospects, too low earnings in relation to the work performed.
- Interpersonal factors, i.e. interpersonal relationships - the nature of contacts with clients characterized by a high emotional load, conflicts in the team, lack of support, lack of significant feedback and appreciation from superiors, increased competition, mobbing.
Faced with the phenomenon of occupational burnout, the manager is facing several tasks. It should minimize the factors that can potentially cause burnout. Caring for burnout prevention is a hundred times more effective way of dealing with this phenomenon than eliminating the symptoms that are already developing. The manager must be able to see the symptoms of burnout in the employee, and when he recognizes them he can not hide his head in the sand and wait for the problem to solve itself. The sooner remedial action is taken, the better the prognosis and the lower the costs for people and the organization.
Then the supervisor must take action to help the employee deal with burnout symptoms.
An employee's diagnosis of developing burnout syndrome may not be easy, especially in the early stages of the process. The symptoms may not be too severe and visible, and the employee who feels burned out, rather does not talk about them or even masks them. In fear of losing his job or reducing his earnings, he tries to hide the facts from his colleagues and family, forcing himself to work beyond force. He often deceives himself by belittling his symptoms. He works less efficiently, so to meet the tasks, he works longer and more, but less efficiently. This vicious circle mechanism deepens overwork and leads to further burnout. Unfortunately, it often happens that employers also do not want to see the problem and are happy to blame the difficult nature of the employee, laziness or lack of predisposition. Organizations are interested in motivated, committed and active people. Paradoxically, such workers are the most vulnerable to the burnout syndrome: ambitious, conscientious, identifying with work, workaholics. After all, "you can't burn out if you have never burned," wrote Jeff Schmidt. Therefore, if a problem arises, do not "sweep it under the rug," expect the employee to handle himself or eventually make a pronouncement. You can and must actively take action to help regenerate.
Effectiveness of actions
If we want to help an employee overcome burnout, it is necessary to act not only on the symptoms, but also on the causes that led to exhaustion. Why did burnout occur? What are the most important sources of stress for a given employee? We seek answers and solutions during an honest conversation with an employee regarding his problems and professional future. Most likely, we find the reasons in the three areas described above: individual, organizational and relational. If we determine the causes and symptoms, we can take appropriate countermeasures. Occupational burnout requires a manager's emotional maturity and the ability to look at the environment, subordinates and himself from a distance. It may prove to be a factor encouraging changes in the field of work organization, people management competences, motivating and finally taking care of your own strength and energy resources.