How to prevent burnout in the workplace ?

A burnout, also known as a professional exhaustion syndrome, affects nearly 3 in 10 employees in Ireland each year. These employees are suffering from a burnout and stress more often than those in other European countries. This figures constant increase worries authorities, health professionals and employers. In this article, you will discover how to spot the first signs of a burnout in order to limit its consequences.

What is burnout?

A burnout is a set of reactions to situations from chronic professional stress. Generally speaking, a burnout is directly linked to an inability to meet the demands placed on an employee by himself or by the hierarchy.

The World Health Organisation defines burnouts as “a feeling of intense fatigue, loss of control and inability to achieve concrete results at work”. It develops mainly in professions that require a high level of personal and emotional investment. Exposure to the risk of burnout mainly affects professionals working in assistance, care, teaching, etc., but is increasingly spreading to other sectors. In particular, professionals whose relationship with others is central to the activity (patient, client, suppliers, etc.) and constitutes a crucial, sometimes vital issue.

Burnout is characterised by 3 dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation or cynicism and a feeling of personal non-fulfilment at work. Burnout can manifest itself by :

  • sleep disorders, muscle tension, sudden weight gain or loss, headaches and nausea.
  • hypersensitivity, high tension, great irritability or, on the contrary, emotional numbness.
  • a drop in morale and professional commitment
  • social withdrawal, aggressive and addictive behaviour
  • anxiety attacks, tetany, even loss of immediate memory

What causes a burnout?

Many factors can cause a feeling of burnout, but stress is always a trigger. Burnouts usually occur as a result of prolonged exposure to stress, which can last for months or even years.

Even if burnouts mainly affect professions that require intense personal commitment, they are also the result of the rapid transformations taking place in the professional environment: globalisation of markets, competitiveness, development of information technologies, job insecurity…

The exact causes of a burnout can be numerous and often depend on the experience of the individual. However, there are several universal factors that can contribute to the feeling of a burnout:

  • Work overload, time pressure
  • Low control over one’s work
  • Lack of recognition
  • Lack of fairness
  • Value conflicts, conflicting demands
  • Lack of clarity in objectives, means

3 tips for preventing burnout in the workplace

As individuals, the employer, the management, those involved in prevention within the company and the occupational health service must be alert to a series of signals. Appropriate preventive measures must be put in place. The aim is to reduce the demands on employees and increase the resources available to them.


Optimising the company

The most important thing is to ensure that work organisation and its constraints generated do not overburden employees in their working lives. The company should make decisions that are logical, feasible and precise. More flexible working arrangements can also help employees to develop.


Strengthening cohesion

It is also important to foster teamwork within the company: promote collaboration through participative management. Promote stimulating values to foster communication between employees. Build a solid foundation for lasting moral support between teams. Listening to your staff allows you to notice possible signs of burnout or high stress, to know the difficulties they are facing, but also to develop a trusting and caring relationship between staff members.


Raising employee awareness

It is recommended that a collective prevention approach be put in place. Training and awareness-raising on stress management enables employees to identify burnout situations, whether at a personal or collective level. Making employees aware of the early signs of a burnout helps them develop strategies to better identify and manage them.

When an employee is suffering from burnout, management can offer him or her a meeting to discuss the difficulties. The main objective of this meeting is to identify the reasons for the burnout. In parallel, it may be necessary to contact the occupational physician. The latter will decide whether or not it is necessary to refer the patient for specialised treatment, rest, relaxation or sports activities. By understanding the symptoms and causes and implementing these strategies, you can recover and build a road map for prevention. EazySAFE consultants can help you identify the most appropriate measures to prevent burn-out within your company. Discover our Workplace well-being training on our website.

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